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Before last year’s races, Atlanta Motor Speedway made a fundamental change. Repaving transformed the track with the oldest asphalt on the NASCAR circuit to a layout that races like a superspeedway.
Accordingly, NASCAR mandated the use of a lower-horsepower superspeedway competition package for the Atlanta races, and cars drafted close together in packs the way they do at Daytona and Talladega.
That suited Ty Gibbs perfectly in last year’s spring race. Then a full-time Xfinity Series driver en route to a championship, Gibbs led only one lap that event, but he led the one that counted, beating Austin Hill to the checkered flag by .178 seconds.
Though we’re not picking Gibbs to win this week, we do think he’ll beat Sheldon Creed head-to-head at -120 via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Justin Allgaier has never won a superspeedway race in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series. Atlanta Motor Speedway, however, is a hybrid track of intermediate length (1.54 miles) that races more like Daytona and Talladega than it does like Charlotte, for example.
Nevertheless, because of its shorter straightaways and tighter corners, Atlanta requires a car to handle, and Allgaier is adept at telling crew chief James Pohlman the kind of feel he needs in his No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.
Because of his lack of success on superspeedways, Allgaier is posted at the very favorable odds of +1400 via DraftKings. No, we don’t think he’ll win on Sunday, but he’s a good bet if you’re inclined to take a chance on a long shot.
Most races don’t have such an obvious favorite. Then again, most races aren’t contested on superspeedways with Austin Hill in the field.
Hill has five victories on his resume, and four of those have come on tracks that use the superspeedway competition package—two each at Daytona and Atlanta.
Hill, a Georgia native, has won the last two Atlanta races and is our pick to win Saturday’s event at +350 via DraftKings. He’s also competing in Sunday’s Quaker State 400 in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“It’s special to be able to race against the best in the Cup Series, but especially at home,” Hill said. “My expectation for Sunday is a little less than my expectation for the Xfinity side, where I expect nothing short of winning.
“On the Cup side, the goal is to race our way forward from wherever we start, make all the laps, contend, and be there at the end. If we can get inside the top 20 and get experience to see how Cup drivers race, it will go a long way.”
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Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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