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February 23, 2024

NASCAR survivor pool: NASCAR.com’s 36 for 36 picks for Atlanta


A general graphic saying 36 for 36
NASCAR

NASCAR.com’s 36 for 36 continues at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

With 36 races and 36 full-time Charter cars, our players select one car per race, but there’s a simple twist: Once they’ve made the pick, they can’t choose that car again for the rest of the 36-race season. Yes, that means every car will be selected exactly once … a survivor pool, by another name.

Follow along weekly as our panel of pickers – Dustin Albino from Jayski, along with Steve Luvender and Cameron Richardson from NASCAR.com – embark on a season-long journey to think like strategists and prove their picking prowess.

We’ll also feature a fourth “community” 36 for 36 pick each week, as decided by fan vote on the r/NASCAR subreddit. Can the collective vote topple our trio of full-timers?

Standings after Race 1

RankNamePointsBehind
1Steve Luvender237
2r/NASCAR Community180-57
3Cameron Richardson171-66
4Dustin Albino169-68

Race 2 of 36: Atlanta

Daytona yielded mixed results for our pickers to kick off the season. Cameron Richardson’s selection of Harrison Burton (No. 21) didn’t make it past Lap 6, while Dustin Albino and the Reddit community pick of Riley Herbst (No. 15) earned 13 points after a 24th-place finish. Steve Luvender’s ninth-place-finishing Noah Gragson (No. 10) pick yielded 28 points for an early points lead.

Now, with Daytona in the books, it’s time to focus on Atlanta – another drafting track that could come up big for the underdogs. How did our pickers plan this one?

Jayski’s Dustin Albino: No. 51, Justin Haley

A graphic depicting the 36 for 36 pick of Dustin Albino

Dustin’s pick last week (Daytona): No. 15, Riley Herbst
Points earned last week: 13 (24th-place finish)
Total season points: 13 (second place)

Dustin: Did you watch the Daytona 500!? At one point, Haley had driven up to second position for Rick Ware Racing. Haley is one of 11 drivers to have multiple top-10 finishes on the reconfigured Atlanta track. The Indiana native is known for being an elite superspeedway competitor, so would it really be surprising if he had another solid outing? After all, J.J. Yeley finished seventh for RWR in the most recent Atlanta race. Granted, it was cut short due to inclement weather.

NASCAR.com’s Steve Luvender: No. 2, Austin Cindric

A graphic depicting the 36 for 36 pick of Steve Luvender

Steve’s pick last week (Daytona): No. 10, Noah Gragson
Points earned last week: 28 (ninth-place finish)
Total season points: 28 (first place)

Steve: Is it a little unwise to waste a Team Penske driver on Race 2 and at a draft-heavy track where an underdog could shine? Maybe, but my early strategy is to make ‘bargain’ selections where I think a driver can bring in as many points as possible, like my Noah Gragson pick at Daytona that netted 28 points. (Yes, I’m bragging. The points leader is bragging.) Austin Cindric should be a solid bet for Atlanta. Not only is he quite adept at drafting – he was in contention for a second Daytona 500 win until a last-lap crash – he’s fared reasonably well in the current superspeedway-esque configuration at Atlanta, leading laps in each of the last three races with an average finish of 8.7 to show for it.

NASCAR.com’s Cameron Richardson: No. 38, Todd Gilliland

A graphic depicting the 36 for 36 pick of Cameron Richardson

Cameron’s pick last week (Daytona): No. 21, Harrison Burton
Points earned last week: 1 (39th-place finish)
Total season points: 1 (fourth place)

Cameron: Sure, my Daytona 500 pick may have only completed five laps, so get your laughs in now. But that all changes now heading to the Peach State as I’m rolling with Todd Gilliland. The driver of the No. 38 led the third-most laps (16) in the “Great American Race” last Monday and was working his way to the front as the race wound down before getting collected in the 23-car pileup with nine to go. I expect the Fords to once again be fast at Atlanta, and Gilliland started inside the top 10 in the Cup Series’ last visit to Atlanta.

r/NASCAR Community: No. 7, Corey LaJoie

A graphic depicting the 36 for 36 pick of the NASCAR Reddit community

r/NASCAR’s pick last week (Daytona): No. 15, Riley Herbst
Points earned last week: 13 (24th-place finish)
Total season points: 13 (second place)

Corey LaJoie is far and away the subreddit choice of the week. And for good reason, too: Driver No. 7 has been a standout at Atlanta’s new configuration, earning back-to-back top fives in the spring race – the only driver to achieve such a feat. From the voting thread:

u/Striking-Insurance-3: “I believe Corey is a great vote for Atlanta, hasn’t shown same strength on other tracks as he has on ‘Superspeedways’ solid bet while saving some of the big dogs for later in the season”

u/Comprehensive-Bat760: “Picking LaJoie because he’s really underappreciated.

Plus, his 4th place finish in the Daytona 500 is going to help him.”

u/SBMVPJustinHerbert: “New New Atlanta history for LaJoie:

2022 1: 5th
2022 2: Blocked going for the win on the last lap
2023 1: 4th
2023 2: Running just outside the top 10 when he crashed

Pretty clearly his best track in my opinion, and coming off a strong 500 effort, is my personal suggestion for the week.”

Check back next week to see how our pickers fared at Atlanta as we begin the season-long 36 for 36 journey.

And, if you’ve got a competitive itch beyond meticulously managing your Fantasy Live lineup each week, feel free to save or print your own 36 for 36 sheet and see if you can beat our pickers and the Reddit community!

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