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Statistically Speaking

Quicktrip 500 Stats

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

This week’s race: Folds of Honor Quicktrip 500
Traditional Name: Atlanta 500
Other Notable Names: Motorcraft Quality Parts 500, Kobalt Tools 500, Golden Corral 500, MBNA 500, Cracker Barrel 500, Primestar 500, Purolator 500, Coca-Cola 500

Atlanta is the heart of the Southeast.

NASCAR’s history in and around this city has been great, but with so many other races hours away from the track, Atlanta Motor Speedway had difficulty filling the stands twice per year. In 2011, they lost one of their dates.

For a while, Atlanta ran its single race during fall in early September or late August. Last year, it moved to spring. The track is still difficult to manage, however, no matter what time of year its run. It was reconfigured from a true oval to the more standard doglegged version in the mid-1990s and the surface is getting old and abrasive. It’s a tricky track to navigate, and winning on this circuit is still counted among a driver’s greatest accomplishments.

There has not been a repeat winner on this track in the past seven tries. Two of the victors are not in the field this week with Jeff Gordon’s retirement and Tony Stewart’s injury, so that streak could easily be extended with Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano winless. In addition, six drivers scored their first Cup win on this track including Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick. Could this be the year Kyle Larson or Austin Dillon break into Victory Lane? It’s worth watching to find out.

10 best drivers at Atlanta

Over the past three races, these drivers have the best average finish on this track.

1. Matt Kenseth
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 6.33
Career avg. finish: 12.0 in 27 attempts

Kenseth enters the weekend with back-to-back top-fives, but that is not his greatest achievement at Atlanta. In his last 16 starts on this track he has finished on the lead lap and in the top 15. Kenseth is the model of consistency and deserves the top spot this week. He has not yet won on this track and could extend the streak of seven unique winners.

2. Joey Logano
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 6.67
Career avg. finish: 19.6 in 9 attempts

Logano and Kenseth nose to tail seems eerily familiar. The driver of the No. 22 was not all that great when he was in the 20, but since joining Penske Racing he has not finished worse than 14th. Like Kenseth, he has not yet won at Atlanta and could also extend the unique winner’s streak.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (tied with Newman)
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 7.33
Career avg. finish: 12.0 in 28 attempts

Earnhardt enters the weekend with a four-race streak of results 11th or better, but with only one top-five to his credit he cannot surpass Kenseth and Logano. The good news is that his strongest run came in this race last year when he finished third behind winner Jimmie Johnson and second-place Harvick.

3. Ryan Newman (tied with Earnhardt)
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 7.33
Career avg. finish: 16.9 in 23 attempts

Newman enters the weekend with a three-race streak of top-10s, but that is not what stands out the most in his stats. In 23 previous attempts he has finished worse than he started 20 times. Of course, part of that is because he qualified on the front row 10 times during his career.

5. Kyle Busch (tied with Ku Busch)
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 8.50 (2 starts)
Career avg. finish: 15.9 in 17 attempts

It’s fitting that the Busch brothers are tied in terms of their last two starts. The younger brother has been more erratic, however, with a victory in 2013 and a 16th in 2014. Like Kurt, he missed last year. Unlike his brother, he sat out because of an injury and not a suspension.

5. Kurt Busch (tied with Ky Busch)
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 8.50 (2 starts)
Career avg. finish: 16.5 in 24 attempts

Busch missed last year because of a NASCAR suspension, but he makes up for that with a current six-race, top-15 streak. He is one of the most recent drivers to win a pair of races—along with Kasey Kahne. Busch’s last victory came in 2010 with Roger Penske, but his fourth with Barney Visser in 2013 is probably more impressive because of the quality of his equipment that year.

7. Kevin Harvick
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 10.00
Career avg. finish: 18.1 in 25 attempts

Harvick’s victory in 2001 was among the most dramatic ever seen in NASCAR. Only a few weeks after the passing of legendary Dale Earnhardt Sr., Harvick took a car he was unprepared to drive and beat Jeff Gordon to the finish line. It was his first win in a great rookie season. He finished third later than fall and then had to wait 13 more races before scoring another top-10.

8. Martin Truex Jr.
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 10.67
Career avg. finish: 19.6 in 17 attempts

Truex’s three-year average would be much better if he had not lost a lap because of an accident in 2014. That contributed to a 23rd-place finish, which was even more disappointing because it came on the heels of back-to-back top-fives in 2012/2013. He almost earned another last year, but fell one spot short in sixth.

9. Jimmie Johnson
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 11.00
Career avg. finish: 11.1 in 24 attempts

Johnson has rarely struggled at Atlanta. That is obvious by his career-average finish of 11.1, but two of his worst results came in the past four years. He sustained crash damage in back-to-back races in 2012/2013, but one of those ages out of this formula next year he should spring to the top. Johnson finished fourth in 2014 and won last year’s Quicktrip 500.

10. Carl Edwards
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 11.67
Career avg. finish: 14.5 in 18 attempts

Edwards began his career with two victories and another top-five in his first three races. Unfortunately, NASCAR is about what a driver has done recently and he has only one top-10 in the past four attempts. That was a fifth in 2014, which contributes to his ranking of 10th.

Others of Note

14. Kyle Larson
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 17.00 (2 starts)
Career avg. finish: 17.0 in 2 attempts

Larson has two starts at Atlanta. One of them was strong; the other was weak. There is a reason to feel good about his odds, however, and that is because he has been solid so far in Atlanta’s prelims.

22. Denny Hamlin
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 26.33
Career avg. finish: 18.1 in 16 attempts

One simply doesn’t get much more erratic than Hamlin in recent seasons at Atlanta. He won in 2012 and then blew an engine in 2013. He finished third in 2014 and then sustained significant crash damage last year. Fantasy owners have to wonder which Hamlin is going to show up this week.

23. Austin Dillon
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 27.33
Career avg. finish: 27.33 in 3 attempts

Dillon has a few more laps around this track that his third-year rival Larson, but he has not made the most of those opportunities. He has never finished on the lead lap and has a best result of 19th. That came in his first attempt in 2013 and he has gotten worse with each passing race. 

 

Rank

Driver

Avg.

Attempts

1.

Matt Kenseth

6.33

3

2.

Joey Logano

6.67

3

3.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

7.33

3

3.

Ryan Newman

7.33

3

5.

Kurt Busch

8.50

2

5.

Kyle Busch

8.50

2

7.

Kevin Harvick

10.00

3

8.

Martin Truex Jr.

10.67

3

9.

Jimmie Johnson

11.00

3

10.

Carl Edwards

11.67

3

 

11.

Aric Almirola

13.33

3

12.

Danica Patrick

14.33

3

13.

Greg Biffle

16.67

3

14.

Kasey Kahne

17.00

3

14.

Kyle Larson

17.00

2

16.

Paul Menard

18.33

3

17.

Casey Mears

19.67

3

18.

AJ Allmendinger

20.33

3

19.

Jamie McMurray

21.00

3

20.

David Ragan

22.67

3

21.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

24.00

3

22.

Denny Hamlin

26.33

3

23.

Austin Dillon

27.33

3

24.

Brad Keselowski

27.67

3

25.

Michael Annett

31.33

3

26.

Cole Whitt

33.50

2

27.

Clint Bowyer

33.67

3

28.

Josh Wise

35.33

3

29.

Reed Sorenson

36.50

2

30.

Landon Cassill

37.00

3

31.

Michael McDowell

37.67

3

Drivers with only one start

 

Regan Smith

17.00

1

 

Trevor Bayne

19.00

1

 

Ty Dillon

29.00

1

 

Exercise Caution

Most caution flags: 14, 2007 Pep Boys Auto 500
Fewest caution flags: 1 (2 times), 1970 Dixie 500, 1961 Festival 250
Average number of caution flags per race: 6.1

Final Caution, last five races:
March 2015: Lap 306 of 325: 6-car accident in turn 3 with a 9:01 red flag (Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Joe Nemechek, and Kyle Larson)
August 2014: Lap 330 of 335, to set up second green-white-checker attempt; 4-car accident on frontstretch (Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, and Jimmie Johnson)
September 2013: Lap 299 of 325: 2-car accident in turn 4 (Jeff Burton and Austin Dillon)
September 2012: Lap 321 of 327 (green-white-checkered): 1-car accident on frontstretch (Jamie McMurray)
September 2011: Lap 251 of 325: 2-car accident on backstretch (Mark Martin and Regan Smith)

Most caution laps: 99, 1977 Dixie 500
Fewest caution laps: 7, 1986 Atlanta Journal 500
Average number of caution laps per race: 40.9

Leading the way

Most leaders: 17, 2000 Cracker Barrel 500
Fewest leaders: 3, 1977 Atlanta 500
Average number of leaders: 8.7

Most lead changes: 45, 1982 Atlanta Journal 500
Fewest lead changes: 7 (2 times), 1961 Dixie 400, 1960 Atlanta 500
Average number of lead changes: 21.6

Victory Lane

Last five winners at Atlanta (starting position):
March 2015: Jimmie Johnson (37th)
August 2014: Kasey Kahne (10)
September 2013: Kyle Busch (9)
September 2012: Denny Hamlin (7)
September 2011: Jeff Gordon (5)

Worst starting position for race winner: 39th, Bobby Labonte 2001 NAPA 500

A race at Atlanta has been won by the pole sitter 14 times and from the front row 26 times in 108 races.

Recent races won from the pole:
Kasey Kahne, 2006 Golden Corral 500
Bobby Labonte, 1996 NAPA 500
Dale Earnhardt Sr., 1990 Motorcraft Quality Parts 500*
Rusty Wallace, 1988 Atlanta Journal 500

* Set by NASCAR’s rule book.

Active winners at Atlanta:
Jimmie Johnson: 4
Kurt Busch: 3
Carl Edwards:    3
Tony Stewart: 3
Kasey Kahne: 3
Kyle Busch: 2
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 1
Denny Hamlin: 1
Kevin Harvick: 1

First time winners at Atlanta:
2005: Carl Edwards, Golden Corral 500
2001: Kevin Harvick, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500
2000: Jerry Nadeau, NAPA 500
1966: Jim Hurtubise, Atlanta 500
1961: Bob Burdick, Atlanta 500
1960: Bobby Johns, Atlanta 500

All-time Winners at Atlanta:
Top 10

Dale Earnhardt: 9
Cale Yarborough: 7
Bobby Labonte: 6
Richard Petty: 6
Bill Elliott: 5
Bobby Allison: 5
Jeff Gordon: 5
Fred Lorenzen: 4
David Pearson: 4
Jimmie Johnson: 4

All-time winners
Similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks (Atlanta, Charlotte, Texas, Las Vegas, Kansas, Chicagoland, and Kentucky)
Top 10

Jimmie Johnson: 24
Jeff Gordon: 16
Dale Earnhardt: 14
Tony Stewart: 12
Matt Kenseth: 11
Richard Petty: 11
Bobby Allison: 11
Cale Yarborough: 10
Mark Martin: 10
Darrell Waltrip: 9
Carl Edwards: 9

Running at the End

The following active drivers have been running at the end of every Atlanta race they started:
Joey Logano (9)
Regan Smith (7)
Aric Almirola (5)
Danica Patrick (4)
Austin Dillon (3)
Michael Annett (2)
Trevor Bayne (2)
Kyle Larson (2)
Ty Dillon (1)

Kyle Busch failed to finish in his first attempt in 2004, but has been running at the end of all 16 since then.
Josh Wise failed to finish in his first attempt, but has been running at the end of the last two.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had been running at the end of his first two races, but failed to finish last year because of an accident.

Great Starts

Active drivers with top-10s in their first start on this track:
Kevin Harvick: first (2001)
Carl Edwards: third (2004), and then won his next two
Kasey Kahne: third (2004)
Paul Menard: seventh (2006)
Jamie McMurray: seventh (2002)
Kyle Larson: eighth (2014)
Ryan Newman: 10th (both 2002 races and spring 2003)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the pole in his first start (2013)

Current Streaks

At Atlanta
Ryan Newman, three top-10s
Matt Kenseth, two top-fives
Jimmie Johnson, two top-fives

On Similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks
Brad Keselowski, 11 top-10s
Kurt Busch, seven top-10s
Carl Edwards, six top-10s
Jimmie Johnson, two top-fives
Kyle Busch, two top-fives

Joey Logano snapped a four-race, top-six streak at Texas. He won the two races on this track type immediately preceding that event.

In 2015/2016
Kyle Busch, five top-fives
Kevin Harvick, five top-10s
Kurt Busch, four top-10s
Joey Logano, three top-10s
Denny Hamlin, three top-10s
Kyle Larson, two top-10s

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.