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Despite missing seven races this season—six because of injury and one under a NASCAR suspension—Chase Elliott has been advancing toward a Playoff-eligible position.
When NASCAR decided last Sunday to shorten the Chicago Street Race from 100 to 80 laps because of impending darkness, it flipped the field in favor of drivers who already had made pit stops.
One of the beneficiaries was Elliott, who parlayed his good fortune into a third-place finish and a nine-point gain in the series standings. Elliott now sits 55 points below the cutoff for the Playoffs with eight races left to make up the difference.
A victory, however, almost certainly would guarantee a Playoff berth, and that might be an easier path for Elliott than trying to qualify on points.
Though Elliott is the defending winner of the Quaker State 400, his cars haven’t been fast enough recently to run at the front of the field. Even though he’s a co-favorite with Kyle Busch at +1000 via DraftKings Sportsbook, we don’t think he’ll be taking the checkered flag on Sunday night.
Two weeks ago, we gave you AJ Allmendinger as our long-shot pick in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Nashville, and he paid a handsome +1600. (Incidentally, we also had Ross Chastain in the Nashville Cup race, which made for a lucrative weekend.)
Allmendinger races full-time with the big boys in the NASCAR Cup Series, and this week he’s an even longer shot at +4000 to win, +1100 to finish in the top three, and +500 to finish in the top five.
Though Allmendinger’s record of finishing superspeedway races isn’t stellar, he often runs near the front of the pack, particularly in the Kaulig Racing Chevrolets he currently drives.
While we can’t encourage you to chase the big money on the “win” bet, we’ll take a shot on The Dinger to finish in the top three and top five.
It’s no secret that the Ford drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series have been fighting an uphill battle this season.
Chevrolets have won 11 of the first 18 Cup races, and Toyotas have won five. That leaves two for the Fords—a relative pittance.
At a reduced horsepower track like Atlanta, however, the Fords have a fighting chance, as Joey Logano proved when he won at the speedway in March.
Logano’s victory wasn’t a fluke. The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford has consummate skill when it comes to controlling the field from the lead at a superspeedway.
Consequently, we’re picking Logano to win Sunday’s race at an attractive +1200 via DraftKings.
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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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