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Daniel Suarez was victorious in a thrilling three-wide finish at Atlanta to secure his spot in the playoffs. C.J. Radune highlights the drivers trending up and down as the Cup Series heads West to Las Vegas.
Ryan Blaney is excellent on the drafting tracks and is a former Atlanta winner. Dan Marcus is excited about Blaney's PrizePicks number this week and also gives some of his other top selections.
Joey Logano won at Atlanta last season and will be hoping to shake off a disappointing end to the Daytona 500. C.J. Radune gives some other strong value plays and provides two different lineup options.
It's hard to look past William Byron who is a two-time winner at Atlanta since the reconfiguration. Mark Taylor remains high on the Daytona 500 winner and provides some other strong options to keep an eye on.
William Byron gave Hendrick Motorsports their record-tying ninth Daytona 500 victory. C.J. Radune recaps a thrilling race and takes a look at drivers trending up and down ahead of next week's race at Atlanta.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
Byron's progress and development hit a bit of a snag last season. While he did post his first-ever two-win season, the Hendrick Motorsports youngster saw his Top-10 totals drop to just 11 after posting 20 the previous season. Byron's average finish also ballooned from 13.6 to 15.6 over the previous campaign. We'd credit much of this as the pains of adjusting to the new generation stock car. Things will improve for the No. 24 team in 2023 now that Byron and crew chief Rudy Fugle have one year behind them with the Next-Gen car. In fact, we see Byron as the driver that could come a bit cheaper in the fantasy drafts and bring higher returns this season than most probably expect. He improved his consistency over the final 10 races of this past season, and that's a good indicator heading into the upcoming campaign.
Byron teased us with his potential in 2021, and now he's ready to show out in the upcoming season. His one-win, 20 Top-10 campaign led to a career-best 10th-place finish in the championship points. Byron is ready to ascend to the elite level in NASCAR's top division. With the return of practice and qualifying in 2022, Byron is the young driver that likely stands the most to gain from the return. We expect pole positions and multiple wins as a result. He and crew chief Rudy Fugle are poised for a breakout season and the return of practice will likely make it happen. Byron was strong on a variety of ovals last year, large and small, and that's a great indicator of his future potential. That type of strength across the board is what leads to multiple win seasons and contending for the championship. There's little doubt that's Byron's near future.
Season three in NASCAR's top division saw Byron continue to blossom as one of the sport's budding stars-to-be. The young driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet grabbed his first-career win in a thriller at Daytona late last season, and Byron grabbed 14 Top-10 finishes. The week-to-week consistency has yet to materialize, but we believe that could be coming in 2021. Rudy Fugle takes over as crew chief and replaces Chad Knaus atop the team's tool box as Knaus moves into Hendrick's VP of Competition role. Fugle has spent the last eight seasons guiding multiple drivers in the Camping World Truck Series to 28 total victories and two championships (Erik Jones and Christopher Bell). We like the pairing of this seasoned crew chief moving into Cup for the first time and the aggressive young driver Byron. This duo could make some major waves this season, and the potential is tantalizing.
The two-season trend line for Byron is tantalizing. After a forgettable rookie campaign, Byron went out in 2019 and posted five pole positions, five Top-5 and 13 Top-10 finishes en route to an 11th-place points finish. The Hendrick Motorsports youngster is just 22-years-old, but he's a very quick study behind the wheel. The pairing with crew chief, Chad Knaus, last season appears to have been a winning move for the No. 24 team. Byron's development is following a similar trend line to that of Hendrick teammate, Chase Elliott. It's just a matter of time before Byron is winning races and contending for championships. The 2020 season could see this driver and team explode with the upside that Byron possesses. We feel that the 12th-place ranking in the pre-season standings is really the floor for this young driver.
The Hendrick Motorsports youngster had a tough transition from winning the Xfinity Series championship in 2017 to becoming a Rookie of the Year candidate last season. Byron struggled to just four Top-10 finishes in 2018 while at the same time suffering through nine DNF's. The learning curve for the 21-year-old was steep and brutal. As the old saying goes, there's nowhere to go but up from here, and in many ways that's very true. Byron has big potential, but he's a raw talent at this point. Seven-time championship crew chief, Chad Knaus, is being brought in to head up the No. 24 team and to be mentor and teacher to Byron. It's likely a great move by the organization. We believe Byron has the most room to grow of any of the Top 20 drivers. That upside is great potential for speculation in 2019.
After winning the 2017 Xfinity Series championship, Byron makes the jump into NASCAR's top division. Byron is fresh off a four-win, 22 Top-10 finish campaign that led to the title in the Xfinity Series. The 20-year-old driver will now take over the No. 24 Chevrolet in Hendrick Motorsports' camp and pair with crew chief Darian Grubb. While there will be some lessons learned and some bumps along the way, but it's a great situation for Byron. He will be in a team that can help him win Rookie of the Year. Despite only 57-combined starts of experience between the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series, he has 11 victories in those starts. The level of talent is obvious, and Byron's ability to adapt to greater competition is clear. He'll have every chance to win the ROTY and to exceed expectations in 2018.
One of the biggest driver defections of last season was the move of Byron from the Toyota camp in the truck series to the Chevrolet camp of JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Byron signed a deal to make the move up in NASCAR and further his development. The young driver grabbed attention last season in the truck series with a stunning seven-win campaign and Rookie of the Year honors in that division. Before that Byron claimed the championship with a four-win campaign in the K&N Pro Series East in 2015. His trajectory through the world of stock car racing has been rocket-like. Now Byron will hope to take the next steps with this strong JR Motorsports team. He should be the top contender to win Rookie of the Year in 2017, and possibly surprise in the final driver standings.
The 2015 K&N Pro Series East champion gets a big promotion in 2016. Byron will take over the No. 4 Toyota Tundra that Erik Jones raced much of last season. The 18-year-old talent got a one-race audition with KBM last year and that was enough to secure him a ride for the upcoming season. It looks as though Byron will bring his own sponsorship to the ride in the way of Liberty University, and he'll be paired with crew chief Rudy Fugle. It's going to be an exciting opportunity for this young driver to flourish right away in his first full season of truck series racing. Byron won four races and led 740 laps last season in his championship campaign in the K&N Pro Series East, so there's little doubt about his driving ability.
More Fantasy News
Top-5 Finish in Season Finale
Byron finished fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway Sunday afternoon.
Wins Phoenix Pole
Byron won the pole for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway Saturday afternoon. He turned a fast lap of 132.597 mph.
Top-5 Finish at HMS
Byron finished fourth in the 4EVER 400 Presented by Mobil 1 NASCAR Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday afternoon.
Runner-up finish at the ROVAL
Byron finished second in the Bank of America Roval 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon.
Third in Yellawood 500
Byron finished third in the YellaWood 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday afternoon.