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ADAM ANSELL'S TOP 25 FOR ATLANTA
1. Kurt Busch: The three "cookie-cutter" tracks (Atlanta Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway) on the Series schedule are just about identical. If a driver performs well at one, it's safe to assume he'll perform well at all of them. Busch hasn't just done well on intermediate tracks this season- he's dominated. He has an Average Finish of second-place in those three events, with two wins and three Top Fives. In 19 starts at AMS, Busch has three wins, three Top Fives and seven Top 10s. He's won two of the last three Atlanta events (March 2009, 2010), leading 363 of 650 laps combined. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Busch ranks sixth in Driver Rating and 11th in Average Running Position. Busch has two wins on the season and needs one at Atlanta to keep pace with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch in the Chase standings. He'll press for the win and get it, making him the top Tiered/Grouping format start of the week.
2. Kyle Busch: Busch finished 25th in the Atlanta March event, but he was struggling at that point in the season. He finished third at Texas and Charlotte, and enters Sunday's event coming off of a historic sweep at Bristol Motor Speedway. In 12 starts at the site, Busch has one win (March 2008) and two Top Fives. He's led at least 22 laps in the past two Atlanta events. He ranks 11th in DR (88.7) and 13th in ARP (15.2). Busch can just about clinch the third spot in the Chase with a victory at Atlanta, and is an excellent start in all formats.
3. Jeff Gordon: With one win in his last 97 Cup starts, that giant monkey has gotten pretty comfortable on Gordon's back. In 36 starts at this site, Gordon has four wins, 14 Top Fives, 23 Top 10s and two poles. Impressive, but he has an impressive line pretty much everywhere. What makes Gordon a Fantasy asset at Atlanta is his solid performances at intermediate tracks. He has an Average Finish of seventh in his last 10 starts at Atlanta and sixth in his last five starts at Charlotte. Gordon's last win came at Texas in April 2009. Gordon is always a Fantasy triple threat; he leads laps, qualifies well and is a Top Five machine. He ranks second in DR (101.8) and in ARP (10.7). A Top Five finish is Gordon's ceiling this weekend.
4. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has been consistently inconsistent. He's led at least one lap in six of his last seven Cup starts, with an Average Starting Position of third, five of those inside the Top Three. But in that same span he has an Average Finish of 23rd with just one Top 10. The bonus points for laps led and qualifying are nice, but Johnson's lack of quality finishes have been killing Fantasy owners. As the schedule inches closer to the end of the season, Johnson starts in Tiered/Grouping formats become more and more valuable. In 18 starts at the site, he has three wins, nine Top Fives and 11 Top 10s. He leads all competitors in DR (109.5) and ARP (7.8). Johnson is going to break out this slump eventually, but Fantasy owners should wait to see Johnson close out a race before plugging him back into their lineups.
5. Denny Hamlin: With a 31 point lead over Johnson in the Chase standings, Hamlin has the freedom to press for the Checkered Flag at Atlanta. Earlier this season he won at Texas, fighting back from 29th on the grid. In 10 starts at the site, Hamlin has one Top Five and three Top 10s. He ranks ninth in DR (94.5) and third in ARP (11.2), yet he bested both those numbers in the March event with a 106.4 DR and 7.3 ARP despite finishing 21st due to a late multi-car wreck. He also led 32 laps. A win this weekend would all but clinch Hamlin the Chase's top spot.
6. Kasey Kahne: Kahne has the second best intermediate track pedigree this season, with an Average Finish of seventh at Atlanta, Texas and Charlotte. He actually led the most laps (144) at Atlanta in the March event before finishing fourth. In 13 starts at the site, Kahne has two wins (March 2006, September 2009), six Top Fives, eight Top 10s and one pole (March 2006). He ranks 10th in DR (93.3) and 14th in ARP (15.4). Kahne is a must start at Atlanta.
7. David Reutimann: Reutimann has just one Top Five at the site, which came in the September 2009 event. Earlier this season he posted a 40th-place DNF at the site and that will ensure low ownership levels, increasing Fantasy value. Overall, Reutimann is excellent at intermediate tracks, most recently finishing fifth at Charlotte. He's coming off of a second-place finish at Bristol where he posted his best ARP (3.5) of the season. He ranks 26th in DR (61.0) and 34th in ARP (26.5). Ignore those stats. Reutimann will cash in a Top 10 at Atlanta.
8. Matt Kenseth: In 21 Atlanta starts, Kenseth has eight Top Fives and 12 Top 10s. He ranks seventh in DR (96.5) and ARP (12.9). After failing to record a Top 10 for nine straight races, Kenseth has logged back-to-back Top 10s. The only knock on Kenseth is that throughout his rough patch his ownership level in Tiered/Grouping formats remained high, eliminating any value during his resurgence. Kenseth is an ideal start for Fantasy league front runners.
9. Greg Biffle: Biffle continues to be the Rodney Dangerfield of Fantasy NASCAR - he gets no respect. Biffle has ranked in the bottom three of Tiered/Grouping format ownership for weeks, and that trend will continue headed to Atlanta. In 15 starts at the site, Biffle has three Top Fives, nine Top 10s and one pole (October 2007). He ranks eighth in DR (95.0) and sixth in ARP (12.2). Biffle has four Top 10s in his last five starts, and will keep the momentum alive this week. Pounce on the value Biffle provides if you're playing catch up.
10. Carl Edwards: In 12 starts at the site, Edwards has three wins, six Top Fives and eight Top 10s. But in his last two visits to Atlanta, he has an Average Finish of 38th with one DNF. Edwards failed to deliver a Top 10 for the first time in six races two weeks ago at Bristol (12th). He ranks third in DR (99.4) and 10th in ARP (14.2). Edwards is a solid bet for a Top 10 finish, and has just enough upside to warrant a start.
11. Kevin Harvick: One win (March 2001), four Top Fives and six Top 10s in 19 Atlanta starts. 81.1 DR.
12. Juan Pablo Montoya: Has finished third in his last two Atlanta starts. 86.8 DR.
13. A.J. Allmendinger: Average Finish of 11th at Atlanta, Texas and Charlotte this season. 69.2 DR.
14. Martin Truex Jr.: Led at least one lap in two of his last three Atlanta starts. 87.6 DR.
15. Clint Bowyer: Holding onto the final Chase spot by 100 points, look for him to play it safe at Atlanta. 81.8 DR.
16. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 98.7 DR.
17. Tony Stewart: 98.7.
18. Jeff Burton: 84.9.
19. Ryan Newman: 71.0.
20. Jamie McMurray: 71.6.
21. Joey Logano
22. Mark Martin
23. Paul Menard
24. Marcos Ambrose
25. Brad Keselowski
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