It was a penalty-laden week in NASCAR’s top series. Friday after practice at Phoenix Raceway, NASCAR confiscated parts from all four Hendrick Motorsports cars and the Kaulig Racing car of Justin Haley. On Wednesday morning, NASCAR dropped the hammer on these five cars, in addition to penalties for the #10 Stewart-Haas Racing car for a lost wheel. Denny Hamlin was also fined for comments he made on his podcast Actions Detrimental about purposely wrecking rival driver Ross Chastain.
With the Hendrick and Kaulig penalties headed to the appeal board, Hendrick has opted to have their crew chiefs begin serving their suspensions this week. Kaulig has asked for their crew chief’s suspension to be put on hold pending appeal. None of this slowed down the Hendrick Chevrolet dominance that we’ve seen so far in 2022. Kyle Larson and William Byron led a majority of the laps on the day, with Byron scoring his second victory in a row.
This weekend the drivers head to Atlanta to take on the “intermediate superspeedway” style of track that isn’t quite like any other on the circuit. The way we approach this race on the NASCAR GAMBLING PODCAST is to treat it like a Daytona and Talladega type of superspeedway race. While you should always be responsible when betting, here is your extra warning that just about anything can and likely will happen in this race. Expect and prepare for chaos.
With that in mind, this gives us a great opportunity to chase a few long shots as we look for a nice payday on Sunday. As I do every week, I’ll give out my five favorite bets using a budget of $5,000. Followed by a few of my favorite drivers to watch for this weekend’s DFS contests.
NASCAR Ambetter Health 400 5K Best Bets and DFS Plays at Atlanta Motor Speedway
$1,000 – Corey Lajoie Top 10 Finish (+225)
My favorite driver to bet on at every superspeedway style of race is Corey Lajoie. The experienced driver gets the most out of his equipment week in and week out. That ability shines extra bright when it comes to these tracks. Last year at Atlanta, Lajoie finished fifth in the spring race. Then had the lead with just two laps to go in the hall race before Chase Elliott forced him into the wall and broke the hearts of those of us who had Lajoie at 250/1 to win that race.
Lajoie has a knack for drafting and avoiding the chaos that can happen on this type of track. Those two things make him the perfect driver to try and double up your money within Atlanta. In the Daytona 500, Lajoie survived the day and scored a 16th-place finish. Looking back at his Daytona and Talladega performances. Six times Lajoie has found himself in the top 11 at the end of the day. 12 times he’s finished top 20. If you can finish that well and run at the end, a top 10 isn’t far out of the question, either.
$1,000 – Kyle Busch Over Kyle Larson (-105)
Fade Kyle Larson. This might sound like a crazy concept for one of the greatest drivers of this generation, who can get in just about anything and win just about anywhere. However, when it comes to superspeedways, Larson admittedly struggles. The books don’t seem to adjust to that well and continue to pair him with drivers much better at these tracks.
Larson did survive and finish in fourth at Talladega last season. That is the exception, though. In his last eight starts at Daytona and Talladega, that fourth place is his only finish better than 18th. 14 times in his career at those tracks, Larson has finished 29th or worse. Last season at this revamped Atlanta track. Larson finished 30th in the spring race and 13th in the fall.
While this bet is mostly just fading Larson anyway, I can. Kyle Busch is a solid superspeedway racer in his own right. Leading at the end of the scheduled distance in this year’s Daytona 500, it looked like the surefire future hall-of-Famer would finally get that first 500 win. Overtime wasn’t so kind to the two-time champ, however, and he will have to try again. In his last five starts at Daytona and Talladega, Busch hasn’t finished worse than 20th.
$1,000 – Bubba Wallace Top Finishing Toyota Car (+450)
There is great value to be found in these top finishing manufacturer bets, especially at this style of track. When it comes to Toyota, there is a massive advantage in the fact that there are only six of them in the 36-car field. Meaning if you decide to bet on one of these drivers, they only have to finish ahead of five other drivers to cash the bet.
Bubba Wallace happens to be one of the best superspeedway drivers in the field. His first career win came at Talladega in a race where drivers were pushing and shoving to be at the top of the pylon when those raindrops started falling. In his last 12 starts at Daytona, Wallace hasn’t finished worse than 20th. At his last four at Talladega, 19th is his worst finish.
In the two races here at Atlanta last season, Wallace finished 13th & 14th, respectively. All of this proves Wallace has what it takes to make it to the end of these races and be a threat to win each time. This gives me faith that he can beat out the five other Toyotas in the field.
$1,000 – Bubba Wallace Top 10 Finish (+140)
I’ve already stated my case for Wallace to beat the other Toyota cars in the field. I’m placing my bets (literally) on Wallace to have a great run on Sunday. This is a great chance to grab a two-for-one. If Wallace beats out the other Toyotas, he’ll likely have a top-10 day. At Daytona, Wallace has finished in the top 10 on 10 different occasions. Including in six of the last nine races there.
$500 – Kyle Busch (+1000) $500 – AJ Allmendinger (+5000)
For the last $1,000 of my budget, I’m going to cheat and split it into two units. Grabbing one driver towards the top of the odds board and one longshot. Make sure to give the NASCAR GAMBLING PODCAST a listen (or a watch on YouTube) for all of our picks to win this week.
Kyle Busch, as I mentioned above, was the leader at the end of regulation in this year’s Daytona 500. His teammate Austin Dillion, who is also a great superspeedway racer, was pushing Busch to that win. Given the chance to work together at the end of the race, I think Dillion would do the same.
AJ Allmendinger is a driver you think of when you think of road courses. He is a driver you should also think of when it comes to superspeedways. In his last three starts in the cup series at superspeedways, he hasn’t finished worse than sixth. Two of those races were in 2018 before the Daytona 500 this season.
During that time away from the Cup Series, Allmendinger was running in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In seven Xfinity starts at Talladega, AJ finished top three in three of them and top seven in four. At Daytona, he scored four top-five finishes in his last four starts. Allmendinger is the perfect sleeper pick to win a race like this.
Ambetter health 400 DFS Drivers to Watch
Brad Keselowski ($8,500)
This one is a high-risk, high reward. Brad Keselowski tends to be a checkers or wreckers-type driver on this type of track. Brad always seems to be fast and ready to make moves when it comes to superspeedway racing. In Daytona, he led 42 laps, which equates to valuable points in DFS. Last season at Daytona, Brad led 67 laps in the 500.
At Talladega, only Dale Earnhardt Sr has been to victory lane more times than Keselowski. Keselowski has six wins to his name at the track, where he sits tied for second on the all-time wins list there with Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jeff Gordon. Some pretty elite company to be in.
Erik Jones ($7,500)
Jones is another driver who tends to sneak up on you with solid results at the superspeedway. In five of his last seven attempts at Daytona and Talladega, Jones has finished 11th or better. Jones was painstakingly close to winning at Talladega last April after leading in the closing laps. Jones scored a win in the summer race at Daytona in 2018 and has nine top-10 finishes between the two tracks. Last season at Atlanta, Jones recorded finishes of fourth and 14th.