Race Weekend Central

Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Forecast: 2023 Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the Peach State for some super-intermediate action at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Read on for my daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings picks for the Ambetter Health 400, airing Sunday, March 19 at 3 p.m. ET on FOX.

Last year was the first time Cup drivers took on the newly-reconfigured Atlanta, and no one really knew what to expect. It was somewhat like a superspeedway, where cars ran mostly in a pack. However, the track is much shorter in length and smaller in width than Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

Though there were plenty of cautions in both races and the winners (William Byron and Chase Elliott) both led a lot of laps in each. However, this year might be a little different; we could see a last-lap lead change or an underdog winning.

So how should you treat this race when studying for DraftKings?

Look at the drivers’ average run positions during the races last year, as that may tell a bit more than where they finished. Also, examine the races at Talladega and Daytona to see who might be adapting to the Next Gen car more than others at this type of track.

Lastly, see where the drivers qualify on Saturday (11:35 a.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). You might can find some good value depending on where they lineup.

One thing that is a bit different is the pit-road starting line: it’s moved way up near turns 3 and 4. That will keep things interesting during the race.

Before I get on to my picks for Atlanta, let’s review the results from Phoenix:

DraftKings SalaryDriverDraftKings Score
$11,100Kyle Larson111.55
$10,300Ryan Blaney52.95
$9,000Kevin Harvick80.05
$8,800Christopher Bell45.55
$7,800Brad Keselowski13.95
$6,600Chris Buescher34
$6,200AJ Allmendinger25

Overall, these drivers did fairly well (though AJ Allmendinger once again got into bad luck, crashing on the next-to-last restart). Brad Keselowski was running in the top 10 most of the day until the last two cautions. He unfortunately fell back to 18th, which sunk his DraftKings score (as he had started in the top 10 to begin with).

The top score in the $8,000 Quarter Jukebox tournament was 390.75 and had Kyle Larson, Byron, Kevin Harvick, Chase Briscoe, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Michael McDowell.

Here’s a look at the DraftKings scoring rules:

The winner on the racetrack tallies 45 points, while second place gets 42, third 41 and so on. Tenth place scores 34, while 11th gets 32 and decreases by one from there through 20th. This pattern repeats for 21st through 30th and 31st through 40th.

Additionally, drivers can earn or lose a point depending on where they finish. For example, if Joey Logano started third and won, he would gain two points in addition to his finishing position points, totaling 47 fantasy points.

Drivers also can earn .45 points for each fastest lap and .25 for each lap they lead.

NASCAR DraftKings Scoring

Also, I will be hosting a free NASCAR DraftKings league that will run each week for the Cup Series only. It’s free to join, but as of now it’s just for bragging rights. You’ll get to compete against me and some of my colleagues.

Here is the link to the league:

2023 Frontstretch NASCAR DraftKings League

Now, here are my picks!

Note: Stats are from 2022 at Atlanta only

DraftKings Picks: Top Tier ($9,100-$11,200)

William Byron ($10,900)
2022 at Atlanta: 2 starts, 1 win, 1 top five, 1 top 10
2022 average finish at Atlanta: 15.5

The defending race winner has been on a bit of a hot streak recently, so it’s only right for me to consider him on DraftKings. Byron’s won the last two Cup events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway, keeping Chevrolet in victory lane so far this year.

Last season, the No. 24 of Hendrick Motorsports was out front for 111 laps, more than anyone else in the spring race at Atlanta. Byron maintained his spot up front early and often, especially near the end. Though the summer event didn’t turn out well for him, he still managed to lead 41 laps before exiting the race around lap 170.

His performance was actually a bit surprising considering how he’s done at Daytona. Byron’s only snagged a win and a runner up in summer 2020 and 2019, respectively. All of his other results there were 21st or worse. Talladega is about the same, with a pair of top fives in fall 2020 and spring 2021.

However, Atlanta is such a different animal and Byron has been so strong lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was near the front for much of Sunday’s race.

Ryan Blaney ($10,400)
2022 at Atlanta: 2 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10
2022 average finish at Atlanta: 11.0

Ryan Blaney is one of the better superspeedway racers in Cup and he proved it last year when he ran near the front of the first Atlanta race. But in the final laps, he was in the high lane behind Bubba Wallace, got loose off the front bumper of another car and went into the wall. The following event there, Blaney came home with a top five.

Like Byron, Blaney also has a win at Daytona and two at Talladega. The No. 12 Team Penske pilot has four top fives and seven top 10s at Daytona in 16 starts, and boasts similar stats at ‘Dega. In fact, his last race there was a second-place finish.

I’ll be curious to see where Blaney qualifies tomorrow, but if he can keep up the strong runs there, he’ll be one to watch at Atlanta.

Ross Chastain ($10,000)
2022 at Atlanta: 2 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 2 top 10s
2022 average finish at Atlanta: 2.0

One of the drivers who’ll likely be popular on DraftKings is Ross Chastain. He placed second in both Atlanta events last season — not an easy feat. Additionally, he led 42 circuits in race one and 32 in the second race, showing that he’s not afraid to be at the front of the field.

While Chastain’s results at Daytona aren’t the best, he did gain 14 positions in this year’s Daytona 500 to place ninth. Plus, he has two other top 10s in the Great American Race in 2021 and 2019.

Trackhouse Racing Team must have a knack for superspeedway-type races, as Chastain won the spring Talladega event and was fourth last fall, leading 36 laps in the latter race. I wouldn’t be afraid of putting him in your lineup, since he and the team has shown so much strength on this track type.

Middle Tier ($7,000-$8,900)

Daniel Suarez ($7,800)
2022 at Atlanta: 2 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 2 top 10s
2022 average finish at Atlanta: 5.0

Sometimes it’s good to play drivers from the same team on DraftKings, because if one is pushing the other to the front at the end, they both get a good fantasy score (usually). That’s partly why I’m choosing Daniel Suarez, though he and Chastain don’t always find each other.

But in the last two superspeedway races, this year’s Daytona 500 and last fall’s ‘Dega race, Suarez finished seventh and eighth in each one, respectively. That’s quite an improvement from his previous eight superspeedway races.

Also, the No. 99 wheelman crossed the line in fourth and sixth in the spring and summer Atlanta races, respectively. Suarez should finish well once again this weekend.

Erik Jones ($7,500)
2022 at Atlanta: 2 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10
2022 average finish at Atlanta: 9.0

Erik Jones’s Legacy Motor Club equipment hasn’t performed as well as I thought it would to start this year, but I like his opportunity this Sunday at Atlanta. He earned a 14th place in this race last season, up nine positions from where he started. Then in the summer, Jones drove from 25th to fourth, avoiding the crashes on the last lap.

Jones also has a win at Daytona in 2018, while at Talladega, he’s snagged two top fives and five top 10s in his last six races. He’ll likely stick with the Chevys this week and maybe earn another top five. But if he qualifies up front, I wouldn’t play him since it would be very risky; if he crashed, his fantasy score would be negative. Just keep that in mind, and check out his qualifying position before you finalize your lineup.

Low Tier ($4,700- $6,800)

Justin Haley ($6,100)
2022 at Atlanta: 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
2022 average finish at Atlanta: 9.0

Justin Haley is similar to Jones in that he can come from the back and finish in the top five or top 10. In 2022, Haley finished 11th after starting 22nd in the spring race, while in the summer he advanced from 24th to seventh.

Haley, too, is a former Daytona winner, thanks to a bit of luck and rain in 2019. Unfortunately, he’s struggled to finish well there since joining Kaulig in Cup in 2022. It’s a bit surprising, considering he won several plate-type tracks in the Xfinity Series.

Still, Haley should do better at the smaller racetrack in Atlanta, as long as he and Allmendinger can keep their noses clean.

Corey LaJoie ($6,000)
2022 at Atlanta: 2 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10
2022 average finish at Atlanta: 13.0

Corey LaJoie is another underdog that can provide some good value on DraftKings. Last season he gained 28 spots en route to fifth in the spring at Atlanta. The next race there, he battled Elliott for the lead before crashing on the last lap and finishing 21st.

His ability to advance his position on the racetrack after starting in the 20s and 30s is great for his salary on DraftKings. In the first two superspeedway events in 2022, LaJoie finished 14th after starting 24th and 33, respectively. He also was ninth in the 2021 Daytona 500.

He’s definitely on my radar this weekend.

About the author

Joy Tomlinson

Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor and involved with photos, social media and news editing. A California native, Joy was raised watching motorsports and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.

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Kurt Smith

Atlanta is the place to bet on a long shot. Any driver can win here with a strategy of “be lucky enough to stay out of the massive pileups”.

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