NASCAR Betting Guide: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

Erik Jones has shown speed to open 2022 and is a past winner on a superspeedway. Is that enough to bet him in the first race on Atlanta's new surface?

It's a great week to slow-play your bet slips.

Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 in Atlanta will be the first Cup Series race at the track since it underwent massive renovations during the offseason.

By re-paving the track and increasing the banking, they're hoping to make Atlanta race similar to Daytona and Talladega, and they will be using the superspeedway rules package for the race.

Will it work? No clue! Wish I could tell ya!

What we do know is that all track history is out the window. This is effectively a new track, so if you're trying to gain insights from past races in Atlanta, the sportsbooks will thank you for your donations.

The first time we'll get a real test of this track is in practice on Friday night (assuming rain doesn't disrupt those plans). Once we see cars on track, we'll have a much better idea of what to expect, and we might be able to fill out more robust betslips at that point.

For now, though, I'm taking a hyper-reserved approach, trying not to over-extend myself in a spot with so much unquantifiable uncertainty. It results in just one pre-practice bet for this week based on the odds at NASCAR odds. We'll circle back here if more value crops up once we see cars on the track.

Erik Jones to Win (+4200)

Before you bet this, shop around. You can still find Erik Jones at +5000 at some books, which is the difference between 1.96% implied odds and 2.33%. That is a big difference. But even if +4200 is the best number you can get, it's still longer than it should be.

The reason I'm willing to bet Jones now is that he is a value no matter how this race plays out. If it runs like a 1.5-mile track, we've seen Jones boast more speed there this year. He was fast in Las Vegas before a late-race crash, and he nearly won in Fontana (though that's a two-mile track). It's clear Petty-GMS is a massive beneficiary of either the Next-Gen car or their winter merger -- or both.

If Atlanta runs more like a superspeedway, Jones has shown his acumen there, too. He is a two-time Daytona winner (though one was an exhibition and both were with Joe Gibbs Racing). More importantly, racing like a superspeedway would flatten out the win odds to a point where longshots become more viable, especially if they have talent in the draft -- which Jones has proven he does.

My win simulations -- which have massive levels of uncertainty baked in and will be altered after practice -- have Jones winning 3.1% of the time. He and Chris Buescher (+7000 to win) are the only drivers showing more than 0.75 percentage points or more of value, but Buescher's speed this year has been underwhelming. That allows me to account for the unknowns but still feel good about Jones, whether you're getting him at this number or something a bit longer.

Post-Practice Addition: Ryan Blaney Over Kyle Larson (-112)

I thought there'd be more value cropping up once we got a read on practice. That didn't happen, so it'll be a light week for me.

The one key takeaway was that there will be a lot of drafting elements at play here, something that will always favor Ryan Blaney over Kyle Larson.

Blaney nearly won Daytona this year in the Next-Gen car. He has won once in Daytona and twice in Talladega, making this easily his best track type on the circuit.

Larson's better than Blaney on the 1.5-mile tracks, but Blaney's no scrub, either. He beat out Larson at the old version of Atlanta, and he had nice speed in the first two bigger, non-drafting races this year. In most spots, you'll favor Larson over Blaney. This just doesn't seem to be one of them.

Post-Practice Addition: Chris Buescher to Win (+7000)

As mentioned above, my numbers were showing value on Buescher if I assumed Atlanta was a blend of a superspeedway and a 1.5-mile track. That's exactly how it has raced so far, so I'm fine plugging Buescher in on a reduced-unit bet.

Buescher is a tremendous superspeedway racer. He won his duel at Daytona this year and has a pair of top-three finishes in points-paying Daytona races (though he was later disqualified for one of them). Buescher has also been top-six in two of the past four races in Talladega.

The speed of RFK Racing has been underwhelming this year, and I do view that as a legitimate concern. Even in the draft, speed matters. But again, he and teammate Brad Keselowski showed in Daytona that they could still get the job done. This is one where I'd personally place a bet about 10 to 20 percent of your typical unit size, but it's worth a shot given the odds.

Post-Practice Addition: Kyle Busch to Win (+1300)

I finally decided to pull the trigger here after a lot of thought. I just think that getting Kyle Busch at a number this long is hard to pass up.

Busch is someone who excels on 1.5-mile tracks, nearly winning in Las Vegas two weeks ago despite starting at the back. He also runs well on superspeedways, even if his finishes don't reflect it.

Saturday's races showed that pack racing will play a key, though things may be a tad less chaotic than they are at Daytona and Talladega. That would seemingly fit right into Busch's wheelhouse if there's less of a chance he gets taken out by someone else's misstep.

I can't get much shorter than this for a race with so much uncertainty. I just think that the number accounts for the uncertainty, making Busch the one semi-favorite I'm willing to bet.