NAS: 2024 Ambetter Health 400: Preview, Best Bets, Longshot Pick

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NASCAR’s 2024 season moves on from William Byron’s dramatic victory at the Daytona 500 to another track where the young driver has enjoyed previous success.

Atlanta Motor Speedway was the site of Byron’s eighth career Cup Series victory last July in another win marked by heavy rains and a finish in the dark.

The Hampton, Ga., track was re-profiled after its final race on the old setup in 2021, and the results have proved to be exciting for the fans and rather harrowing for the drivers.

Atlanta Motor Speedway saw its turns steepened from 24 to 28 degrees, and the racing surface was narrowed from 55 to 40 feet wide. Lastly, the worn coating of asphalt was replaced with a new black surface.

While the configuration essentially remained the same, the end result was a much faster track with the fresh asphalt, more tight competition with slimmer grooves and an opportunity for more daring moves with fewer lanes to race in.

“With high banks in the turns, narrower width and new pavement technology, Atlanta will be unlike any other mile-and-a-half track on the circuit,” Speedway Motorsports president and CEO Marcus Smith said of the changes.

AMBETTER HEALTH 400
Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Date: Sunday, Feb. 25, 3 p.m. ET
Distance: 260 laps around 1.54-mile quad-oval
Defending champion: Joey Logano
Cup Series leader: William Byron
TV: FOX
Radio: SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

BEST BETS
Chase Elliott (+900 at BetMGM)
The 2020 Cup Series champion is looking to break a winless drought that dates back to 2022. He’s a popular pick to do so at his home track, where he won two years ago. Elliott, who finished 14th at Daytona after placing second in the first Duel, is the book’s third biggest liability this week with 6.4 percent of the total bets backing him to win despite being the favorite.

Joey Logano (+1200)
The defending champion made a clean pass of former teammate Brad Keselowski on the final lap last year to win a race he held the lead in for 140 of 260 laps. Logano was on the pole in Daytona last week, but will be looking to rebound from a disappointing 32nd-place finish. Atlanta was the lone win of the season for him last year.

Brad Keselowski (+1200)
The veteran driver lost to Logano by a mere 0.193 seconds after leading 47 laps last year and is a two-time winner at Atlanta, which leads all drivers in Sunday’s field. He was in the hunt at Daytona until a wreck late in the race.

William Byron (+1300)
Fresh off the biggest victory of his young career, the 26-year-old Byron won a rain-shortened race with 75 laps remaining at Atlanta last summer. He has tacked on three more victories since and now has 11 through his first 217 starts. That includes a pair of trips to Victory Lane at Atlanta.

Kyle Busch (+1400)
Busch, who finished fifth in the summer race at Atlanta last year, is coming off a 12th at Daytona after rallying from starting 34th. Always popular with the public, Busch is BetMGM’s second biggest liability this week as he leads the field with 10.5 percent of the money backing him to win. He has seven top-10 finishes in his past nine Atlanta races.

LONGSHOT PICK
Ross Chastain (+1800)
Chastain was the runner-up in both Atlanta races in 2022, although he posted a 13th and 35th in last year’s races. He is the book’s biggest liability this week, leading the field with 9.2 percent of the total bets and sitting second with 10.3 percent of the money backing him to win since opening at +2200.

KEY STAT
Byron’s 11 triumphs have occurred at nine tracks: Daytona (twice), Atlanta (twice), Homestead, Martinsville, Phoenix, Texas, Watkins Glen, Darlington and Las Vegas. He’s seeking to become the sixth driver in Cup Series history to begin a year with consecutive wins.

–Field Level Media

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