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Statistically Speaking

Quik Trip 500 Stats

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

This week’s race: Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500
Traditional Name: Atlanta 500
Other Notable Names: AdvoCare 500, Kobalt Tools 500, Golden Corral 500 Purolator 500, Motorcraft Quality Parts 500, Coca-Cola 500

Atlanta Motor Speedway has gone through a couple of transitions during its history with the most significant of these being the conversion from a true oval to its current doglegged-configuration. The renovation came in 1997, so nearly all of the active drivers are familiar with only this version and that makes their statistics meaningful.

The next biggest change for Atlanta came in 2011. After fifty years of hosting two races each season—three in 1961—the course lost one of its dates to a sister track. For the past four years, drivers have had only one opportunity to perfect their setup on this track—because despite comparisons to other similarly-configured, 1.5-mile courses, each is unique. In 2015, Atlanta has the distinction of being the first of back-to-back races on this track type with the following event coming on another single-race track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Changes continue into this season. For the past four years, Atlanta has hosted their single event in late August or September. The temperatures are probably not much different this early in the spring than at that point in the fall, but the agendas for drivers and teams will be much changed. Kasey Kahne’s dramatic win in last year’s Oral-B USA 500 was a last-ditch effort to get into the Chase. After this weekend’s race, drivers still have 24 more opportunities, so the sense of urgency will be lessened somewhat.

Atlanta has developed into a democratic track in recent years. Before Kahne backed up a 2009 victory with his win last year, five other drivers won the intervening five races. Two of those drivers—Kurt and Kyle Busch—will not be competing this week, so the odds are strong that a seventh different driver could win in the past seven races. Keep an eye out for dark horses while setting the fantasy lineup and the favorites will take care of themselves.

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: 7.67
Career avg. finish: 12.3 in 26 attempts

Players who do not think that a driver’s position in the standings and the time of year have an impact on results need only look to last year’s Oral-B USA 500. Secure in his place among the top points’ contenders, Kenseth settled for second behind Kahne and that denied him his first-ever victory on this track. His second-place finish was good enough to elevate him to the best three-year average, however, and after going winless for all of 2014, Kenseth is hungrier than ever.

2. Jeff Gordon
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 8.33
Career avg. finish: 11.9 in 41 attempts

Gordon cut a tire early in last year’s Atlanta race and slapped the wall. The team took their time making repairs and lost two laps in the process, but it was well worth the effort because he was as fast as the leaders when he returned to the track. Getting one lap back in NASCAR’s age of Free Passes and Wave Arounds is not difficult, but two can be problematic. Gordon was forced to settle for 17th, which was the first time in four races he failed to crack the top six.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 8.67
Career avg. finish: 12.3 in 27 attempts

Earnhardt owes his spot on the list to consistency. In his last three attempts, he has finished in a narrow band from seventh through 11th; his previous three efforts were all 15th or worse. Despite stumbling a few times in the last decade, he has finished on the lead lap in all but one of his races and that single result was because of crash damage during a green-white-checkered attempt.

4. Martin Truex Jr.
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 10.00
Career avg. finish: 20.4 in 16 attempts

Truex could be one of the dark horses that help fantasy players extend their salary cap at Atlanta. He has a knack for running well on this 1.5-mile doglegged oval with two top-fives in his last three attempts. Those came while driving for Michael Waltrip Racing, however, and last year he slipped to 23rd with crash damage. After a strong Daytona 500 run, the Quik Trip 500 will be a test of how well momentum impacts a driver.

5. Kevin Harvick
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 11.00
Career avg. finish: 18.8 in 24 attempts

Like Gordon, Harvick’s three-year record was much stronger entering last year’s Oral-B 500 than when leaving it. He dominated the top five, but was knocked back to 19th during a green-white-checkered accident. Seven of his last 10 Atlanta starts ended in top-10 finishes and while most of those came with Richard Childress Racing, he brought a good set of notes with him to Stewart-Haas.

6. Joey Logano
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 11.33
Career avg. finish: 21.5 in 8 attempts

Logano’s Atlanta results improved as soon as he joined Penske Racing. Prior to that, his best effort netted an 18th-place finish, which came in his last attempt with Gibbs. That also marked the first time in his career that he finished on the lead lap there. His first race in the No. 22 almost ended in victory, but he finished second to his former teammate Kyle Busch.

7. Greg Biffle
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 13.33
Career avg. finish: 17.1 in 21 attempts

Biffle’s last top-five on this track came 10 races ago in the 2008 Kobalt Tools 500. Since then, he has made up in consistency what he lacks in raw power by earning top-15s in all but two races, both of which were marred by crash damage. His best result in the past three years was a 10th scored in 2014. He could be a good value so long as players manage their expectations.

8. Denny Hamlin
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 14.00
Career avg. finish: 16.8 in 15 attempts

Hamlin’s position among the top 10 is incredible when one considers that he sustained crash damage and later blew an engine in the 2013 Atlanta AdvoCare 500. He finished 38th that afternoon, but that poor finish is bracketed by a victory in 2012 and a third last year. The entire Joe Gibbs Racing organization is motivated to run well for Kyle this week, and Hamlin should retain his station among the top 10.

9. Ryan Newman (tied with McMurray)
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 15.67
Career avg. finish: 17.2 in 22 attempts

Like Hamlin, Newman has one terrible finish in his last three attempts. He crashed out of the 2012 Atlanta AdvoCare 500 and finished 35th, but he does not have a victory to offset that result. What he has done is post back-to-back top-10s in his last two starts and that makes him fantasy relevant this week.

9. Jamie McMurray (tied with Newman)
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 15.67
Career avg. finish: 19.6 in 21 attempts

McMurray ties Newman in three-year average finishes, but he lacks the highs and lows. That does not equal consistency, however, because the No. 1 finished 24th in 2012 and was 11th and 12th in his latest two efforts. McMurray’s worst finish was also caused by crash damage, and the fact that he survived means he has been a little luckier in recent years than Neman or Hamlin. That could be important on Sunday.

Others of Note

14. Carl Edwards
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 19.67
Career avg. finish: 14.6 in 17 attempts

Atlanta has been the site of some of Edwards’ best finishes and worst fortune. He finished third there in his first start, won the next two races, and finished 40th in his fourth attempt with crash damage. Atlanta is also the track where he and Brad Keselowski got into a huge shoving match in 2010 and he was black flagged for intentionally wrecking the No. 2 in retaliation.

18. Jimmie Johnson
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 22.00
Career avg. finish: 11.5 in 23 attempts

It seems odd to see Johnson this far down the list. After all, he was once the king of this track type and has four victories there. Three of his last five attempts have resulted in top-fives, but two of the last three have been marred by crash damage. That just goes to show no one is immune to trouble all the time.

20. Brad Keselowski
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 25.67
Career avg. finish: 24.0 in 6 attempts

Keselowski’s results resemble a bell curve and a pair of top-10s in 2011/2012 is bracketed by misfortune. He sustained crash damage in his first two starts and has failed to finish his last two with a blown engine in 2013 and a crash last year. If the pattern repeats, however, he should be due a top-five this week.

22. David Ragan
Last three races average finish at Atlanta: 26.0
Career avg. finish: 26.5 in 12 attempts

Ragan’s handicap in the next few races should be made with his Roush-Fenway Racing results in mind instead of Front Row Motorsports. Unfortunately, his last three starts with that organization would be even worse at Atlanta, with a three-race average of 30.3. He should fare much better this week because he has excitement on his side; the added horsepower from Toyota Racing Development will not hurt either.

 

Three-year average finish

Rank

Driver

3-Year Avg. Finish

Attempts

1.

Matt Kenseth

7.67

3

2.

Jeff Gordon

8.33

3

3.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

8.67

3

4.

Martin Truex Jr.

10.00

3

5.

Kevin Harvick

11.00

3

6.

Joey Logano

11.33

3

7.

Greg Biffle

13.33

3

8.

Denny Hamlin

14.00

3

9.

Ryan Newman

15.67

3

9.

Jamie McMurray

15.67

3

 

 

 

 

11.

Paul Menard

16.67

3

12.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

18.00

2

13.

Danica Patrick

18.67

3

14.

Carl Edwards

19.67

3

15.

Kasey Kahne

20.00

3

16.

Aric Almirola

20.33

3

17.

Austin Dillon

21.50

2

18.

Jimmie Johnson

22.00

3

19.

David Gilliland

25.33

3

20.

Brad Keselowski

25.67

3

20.

Casey Mears

25.67

3

22.

David Ragan

26.00

3

23.

Travis Kvapil

26.50

2

24.

AJ Allmendinger

27.00

2

25.

Landon Cassill

29.33

3

26.

Tony Stewart

31.50

2

27.

JJ Yeley

34.33

3

28.

Clint Bowyer

34.67

3

29.

Reed Sorenson

35.50

2

30.

Josh Wise

39.67

3

31.

Joe Nemechek

40.00

3

32.

Mike Bliss

41.00

3

33.

Michael McDowell

43.33

3

 

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:
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)
September 2010: Lap 304 of 325: debris

Most caution laps: 99, 1977 Dixie 500
Fewest caution laps: 7, 1986 Atlanta Journal 500
Average number of caution laps per race: 40.8

Leading the way

Most leaders: 17, 2000 Cracker Barrel 500
Fewest leaders: 3, 1977 Atlanta 500
Average number of leaders: 8.6

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):
August 2014: Kasey Kahne (10)
September 2013: Kyle Busch (9)
September 2012: Denny Hamlin (7)
September 2011: Jeff Gordon (5)
September 2010: Tony Stewart (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 107 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:
Jeff Gordon: 5
Kurt Busch: 3
Carl Edwards:    3
Jimmie Johnson: 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

Running at the End

The following active drivers have been running at the end of every Atlanta race they started:
Joey Logano (8)
Regan Smith (6)
Aric Almirola (4)
Danica Patrick (3)
Austin Dillon (2)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2)
Brendan Gaughan (2)
Trevor Bayne (1)
Justin Allgaier (1)
Michael Annett (1)
Alex Bowman (1)
Kyle Larson (1)
Brett Moffitt (1)
Cole Whitt (1)

AJ Allmendinger had been running at the end of eight consecutive races until he crashed out of last year’s Oral-B 500.

Great Starts

Active drivers with top-10s in their first start on this track:
Kevin Harvick: first (2001)
Carl Edwards: third (2004)
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)

 

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.