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Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook.
Kevin Harvick to win the race at +2500
William Byron to beat Kyle Larson head-to-head at -110
Ross Chastain to beat Denny Hamlin head-to-head at -110
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Last weekend at Phoenix Raceway was one of ambivalence for Hendrick Motorsports, Driver William Byron won his second straight NASCAR Cup Series race after leading 201 laps at the one-mile track in the Sonoran Desert.
But two days before Sunday’s race, after the only practice for the event, NASCAR confiscated the hood louvers from Byron’s car—and those from the cars of his Hendrick teammates: Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, and Josh Berry (subbing for injured Chase Elliott).
On Wednesday, NASCAR announced penalties for the teams--$100,000 fines and four-race suspensions for each of the crew chiefs and loss of 100 championship points and 10 Playoff points for each driver (with the exception of Berry, who is not competing for the Cip championship).
When it comes to winning Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400, however, the sanctions shouldn’t hurt Byron appreciably. His car was plenty fast at Phoenix without the offending louvers, and he’s the defending winner of the race.
Nevertheless, Byron isn’t our pick to win at +900 via DraftKings Sportsbook, but we do like him to beat Larson head-to-head at -110 via DraftKings.
Before last year’s races at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the track was repaved and reconfigured with steeper banking and narrower corners.
For the 2022 races, NASCAR opted for a superspeedway competition package featuring a seven-inch rear spoiler and reduced horsepower.
As a consequence, racing at the track resembled the close-quarters competition fans have come to expect at Daytona and Talladega, and Chevrolet drivers thrived.
William Byron won the spring race at Atlanta, and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott captured the fall event. In the spring, Chevys claimed five of the top six finishing positions.
Surprisingly, perhaps, we don’t like a Chevy driver to prevail this weekend, but we do like Chevy driver Ross Chastain to beat arch-nemesis Denny Hamlin head-to-head at -110 via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Having announced he’ll retire after the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, Kevin Harvick will be a sentimental favorite at every track he visits this year.
That’s especially true at Atlanta, where Harvick won his first Cup race in his third start in 2001 after Dale Earnhardt Sr. was fatally injured in a last-lap crash in the Daytona 500.
Harvick has gone on to win 60 career races, 10th all-time and second-most among active drivers behind Kyle Busch’s 61, but Atlanta holds special memories for the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Ford.
Typically, we don’t pay much attention to sentiment, but sometimes the story is too powerful to ignore. And it’s not as if Harvick hasn’t been fast this year. He had the winning car last Sunday at Phoenix before a late-race caution squelched his chances.
Consequently, we’re picking Harvick to win at the very generous odds of +2500 from DraftKings.
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· What: Ambetter Health 400 NASCAR Cup Series Race
· Where: Atlanta Motor Speedway
· When: Sunday, Mar. 19, 3 p.m. ET
· How to Watch: FOX
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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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