Race Weekend Central

Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Forecast: 2024 Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta

If you thought the 2024 Daytona 500 was hard on you fantasy-wise, this Sunday (Feb. 25) could be even wilder. I had a rough week with fantasy and betting last week, but the good thing is there are 35 more opportunities to get into victory lane.

Let’s jump into this week:

The subject of a recent and controversial reconfiguration that turned it into an insanely tight “drafting track,” Atlanta Motor Speedway has had three different winners in the four races since the redesign. There have also been bizarre tire failures, bad pushes, and ill-conceived maneuvers that have ruined the day for many contenders.

Handling is far more important here due to the tight confines and close proximity at which the drivers run each lap in the pack. Drivers will also have to negotiate the pit road entry that begins on the backstretch and extends all the way into the beginning of the tri-oval. Much like Daytona International Speedway, the usual players should be a factor, but the possibility is there for a surprise winner to steal a playoff spot.

Qualifying comes before practice this weekend, which should make things very interesting. Last season, several drivers went out and had a hard time finding grip, making for some really poor qualifying efforts for both the spring and fall events by teams you wouldn’t expect to have those issues.

Coverage of the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

See also
Through the Gears: A Torch-Passing Betting Preview of Atlanta

Fantasy Forecast

A quick recap of the scoring format:

Points will be awarded on DraftKings for finishing position, position differential, fastest laps and laps led. The driver who wins the race scores 45 fantasy points, while second gets 42 points, third gets 41 points and so on, at least through the top 10. The 11th-place finisher scores 32 points, 21st gets 21 points and 31st gets 10 points.

However many spots they lose or gain on the track is added to or subtracted from the score. Then, if the driver leads a lap, they will earn 0.25 points for each lap led and 0.45 points for each fastest lap.

DraftKings NASCAR Scoring Rules

Here’s who you should roll with this week in the Peach State. This lineup is a little top-heavy on salary, but I think you have to be with how difficult this race is to predict. I’m going to forewarn you, dear reader: this lineup and some entries may shock you. I’m also going to trust that you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t trust me in return.

1. William Byron: ($10,000)

Stats that matter: 2024 Daytona 500 winner, 11 career top 10s in 34 starts on drafting tracks, and the only repeat winner on Atlanta’s new configuration

Alright, this is probably a little on the nose after last weekend. I have a bit of buyer’s remorse for selecting Joey Logano over the newest Daytona 500 champion.

I’m not going to make the same mistake twice (I hope).

Byron has to be a favorite this weekend. Heck, in my mind, he’s THE favorite. Sure, that most previous win at Atlanta was due to a controversial call involving weather and pace laps. Something has to be said, however, for the No. 24’s penchant for being around at the end of these things. Plus, as I’ve said before, momentum is a real thing in this sport.

Crew chief Rudy Fugle will have this Chevrolet tuned up for this weekend, but Byron’s Achilles Heel is two fold. The times he hasn’t won on this configuration, he finished 30th and 32nd. History is also not on his side, as Matt Kenseth was the last driver to do so in 2009.

2. Ryan Blaney: ($10,200)

Stats that matter: 3 straight top-10 finishes at Atlanta, career average finish at Atlanta: 11.4, has started no worse than 6th in the last 4 starts at Atlanta.

This place is one of the defending champion’s best tracks, and after getting caught in a big crash at Daytona, I look for a bounce-back weekend for YRB.

The No. 12 team has always shown up and shown out here, with an astonishing average finish and qualifying record to show for it. He’s always a threat to win here, regardless of how the track is configured.

His qualifying speed can be translated into big scoring from laps led and fastest laps. The average finish is a good sign you can net good position differential as well, especially if somehow his set-up for qualifying is a little off.

If he does start up front, laps led and fast laps are on the table.

3. Erik Jones: ($8,000)

Stats that matter: 4 consecutive top-15 finishes at Atlanta despite an average starting position of 25th, 466 green flag passes in last year’s events, average driver rating of 72.9 at Atlanta

I wavered back and forth on this one for about an hour between Jones and Ross Chastain for this spot. What won me over was Jones’ consistency since the reconfiguration, as opposed to Chastain’s hit-or-miss relationship with the western Georgia track.

Like Blaney, this is one of driver No. 43’s best tracks, albeit a little more understated. He may not have the stuff on Saturday to pull off a pole run, but it’s very nearly a guarantee he will finish far ahead of where he started.

He also comes in $600 cheaper than Chastain, which opens the door for more roster options.

4. Daniel Suarez: ($7,300)

Stats that matter: Only one finish outside the top 10 in the last four Atlanta races, finished 2nd in the last Atlanta race, +15 position differential by halfway in the last two Atlanta races

Suarez is highly underrated when it comes to racing at Atlanta. Many fans will tell you that had NASCAR let the field go another 10 laps last fall, Suarez would’ve collected his second career Cup win.

Suarez probably would’ve gotten another top-10 finish had he not gotten caught up in a crash just past halfway in last season’s spring race. The time for “probably” and “should’ve” is over.

Even if Suarez doesn’t manage a win on Sunday, he should still run extremely well and amass points from the position differential category and fast laps, if nothing else.

See also
NASCAR 101: How Important Is Home-Track Advantage?

5. Corey LaJoie: ($6,400)

Stats that matter: Finished 4th in the Daytona 500, 2 top fives in his last 4 Atlanta starts

My man LaJoie brought me home the most points coming out of Daytona with his fourth-place finish. Sure, this might have mostly been because most of my lineup was in the garage area after the huge 18-car crash at the end, but it earned him the right to return this week.

LaJoie’s salary is still super low this week, and he’s a steal at the price. He’s arguably run better at Atlanta on the new configuration than anywhere on the circuit, often finding himself in the top 10. He nearly won back in 2022 had Chase Elliott not thrown a massive block on the final lap.

Driver No. 7 is poised to back up a great run at Daytona with another this week, and you shouldn’t sleep on him.

One other thing: both top fives he’s gotten here were in the spring race.

Prop Bets and Locks

Alright, so last week didn’t go so well, as I struck out on all three bets. However, like I said earlier, it’s a brand new week. New opportunities to make a few dollars this weekend await! Here’s what I got this week.

  1. Blaney at +1000 to win: The defending champion is at one of his best racetracks statistically and is looking to gain some momentum after getting in the “Big One” at Daytona. Look for Blaney and all of his Ford teammates to be very fast and good bets to win this weekend.
  2. Alex Bowman +120 vs. Christopher Bell -155: Bowman very nearly won the Daytona 500 over Byron last week, and that momentum could propel him to a good finish. Bell won a Duel race last week, but that was about all the budding star showed performance-wise. I think Bowman is an easy win here.
  3. Ford at +180: The boys with the blue oval were very fast at Daytona and are historically fast at Atlanta, even prior to the reconfiguration. The fact that Chevrolet is the favorite at +135 is kind of surprising, and I don’t feel comfortable taking Toyota as the underdog this week. Ford is a safe bet without question.

That’s all for this week. Here’s to hoping that this week goes better for not only me, but you as well. Good luck and happy betting!

About the author

Garrett joined Frontstretch as a news writer in 2023, and became a fantasy racing and betting writer in 2024. Hailing from the heart of coal country in southern West Virginia,  he's a married father of three and currently enrolled in the Physical Therapy Assistant Program at New River Community Technical College in Beaver, WV. He has been a racing fan since 1998, primarily watching NASCAR, but branching out to F1 and IndyCar as his love for motorsports has grown.

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