William Byron comes into Sunday’s 2023 Ambetter Health 400 in Atlanta as the defending champion. The 25-year-old has consecutive victories, at Las Vegas and Phoenix, and led 111 laps on his way to Victory Lane in the NASCAR at Atlanta race last spring. The 2023 Ambetter Health 400 is the fifth race of the NASCAR schedule and the third on the revamped surface at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The new surface on the 1.5-mile quad-oval led to superspeedway conditions last year.
The 2023 Ambetter Health 400 start time is 3 p.m. ET. Byron is the 9-1 favorite in Caesars Sportsbook’s latest 2023 Ambetter Health 400 odds. He is one of eight drivers priced 12-1 or shorter, with Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch right behind at 10-1 in the 2023 NACSAR Atlanta odds. Ross Chastain (11-1) and Joey Logano (11-1) also are among the top contenders in the 2023 Ambetter Health 400 starting lineup. You’ll want to check out the NASCAR at Atlanta predictions from Micah Roberts, the legendary Vegas bookmaker who pioneered wagering on racing, before locking in any 2023 Ambetter Health 400 picks.
A former Vegas bookmaker, Roberts was the first to offer expanded NASCAR betting and now hands out NASCAR winners to his followers on SportsLine. Roberts is the nation’s premier NASCAR betting expert, and his top pick, Chase Elliott, won the YellaWood 500 last October at 12-1 odds. He also correctly predicted Elliott to win the Jockey Made in America 250 in 2021, nailed the 2021 Coca-Cola 600 winner by hitting Larson’s victory at 11-2 odds and was on point by targeting Elliott as the winner of the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix at 8-5 odds the previous week. Anyone who has followed his picks has cashed ticket after ticket.
Now, Roberts has analyzed the field and odds for Sunday’s NASCAR at Atlanta 2023 race. He’s sharing his winner and projected 2023 Ambetter Health 400 leaderboard right here. One shocker: Roberts is fading Kyle Larson, even though he’s one of the top NASCAR Atlanta favorites. The 2021 Cup Series champion hasn’t been a threat on superspeedways in his career, and Roberts doesn’t see that changing this week. In fact, Roberts barely ranks the 25-year-old in his top 20 drivers for the race. Larson finished 30th in the spring race last year and was 13th in the fall. Larson finished in the top five twice at Atlanta before the resurfacing in 2021.
“This was a better track for him before the superspeedway package was put in place,” Roberts says. The expert also notes that Larson needs room to operate, and the pack racing isn’t really up his alley. He finished 18th at Talladega and was 37th at Daytona in the second half of last season. Larson has 19 Cup victories, but none of those have come on a superspeedway. See who else to fade here.
Another curveball: Roberts is high on Aric Almirola, even though he’s a long shot at 30-1. The 39-year-old has three career Cup victories, and two have come at superspeedways. He has six top-five finishes and 12 top-10s on the tracks. Almirola finished eighth at Atlanta last summer and led six laps in the spring race before finding trouble and taking 22nd place.
“He is one of the best at superspeedway racing,” Roberts told SportsLine. Alimirola will try to rebound this week and Roberts likes his chances on a track where he can excel. See who else to back here. Roberts is also backing a driver to win this week with odds well over 50-1. This overlooked driver has led laps at Atlanta and found his groove the second time around last year. He could pull off a stunning victory Sunday, and anyone who backs him could hit it big. You can only see who it is here. So who wins the 2023 Ambetter Health 400 on Sunday in Atlanta? And which longshot of well over 50-1 could stun the NASCAR field? Visit SportsLine now to see the projected 2023 NASCAR at Atlanta leaderboard from the nation’s premier NASCAR handicapper, and find out.
Through six seasons, Corey LaJoie has managed to make a name for himself as a NASCAR Cup Series driver. Now, he’s starting to make his name the way he’d really like to. More often than not, his relevance came through the curls of his hair or the content of his podcast as opposed to his performance or his abilities as a driver, abilities which have been spent toiling trying to build a small team in Spire Motorsports over the last two seasons.
That toil and trouble has now begun to pay dividends for LaJoie, who is off to the best start to a season that he’s had in his Cup career. LaJoie enjoyed a strong Speedweeks, contending for a win and finishing fifth in his Duel qualifying race before a 16th place finish in the Daytona 500. But his run at Fontana, where he was a fixture in the top 15 throughout the day and finished 14th, impressed many and has suggested an upward trajectory for LaJoie and his Spire Motorsports team — something which continued with another top 20 run at Las Vegas and has allowed him to remain 18th in points despite a 26th place run at Phoenix slowing some of his momentum.
Speaking to CBS Sports, LaJoie shared that Spire Motorsports has strengthened its working relationship with Hendrick Motorsports, which has availed the team to better underwing scans and body builds as well as better tire data and more simulation time — all of which has meant faster cars and better preparation. “It’s come from sitting on faster horses. And faster horses kind of breed confidence going to the racetrack as opposed to finding it halfway through the event,” LaJoie told CBS Sports. “Unloading knowing the thing’s gonna have some grip and it’s not gonna get on a bumpstop wacky and end up in the fence, all that stuff plays a factor with how much commitment you pile it off in the corner with.”
At the beginning of NASCAR’s Next Gen era last year, LaJoie was bullish about the leap Spire Motorsports could take as an organization. That bullishness was tempered by mistakes in execution that kept him and his race team from reaching their potential on most weekends. Mechanical issues and unforced errors — including from the driver’s seat by LaJoie — were a recurring problem, and they contributed to LaJoie having eight total DNFs in 2022. This season, those errors have been cleaned up. As a result, LaJoie has begun to run about where he believes his still-young and small team can as they continue to grow.
“I think that right now is fairly close to the ceiling. I think a run like Fontana is overachieving,” LaJoie said. “Really on paper in terms of budget and personnel, the amount of personnel, we’re probably 30th to 32nd. So if we’re beating 10 people, we’re really punching above our weight class. “But I think how I feel like I stack up as a race car driver right now in my career, and where I think the amount of knowledge and tools that (crew chief Ryan Sparks) has to work with, I think that on a great week we’re 10th and we should be 19th-21st on our average day, like a Vegas when we felt like we missed a little bit and still executed the day.”
One major change at Spire is that Ryan Sparks, LaJoie’s crew chief since 2019 at Go FAS Racing, has had Director of Competition duties added to his responsibilities. That kind of promotion speaks well to Sparks’ organization and leadership abilities, but it’s also much to ask to have him take on those duties while still serving as a crew chief. Many larger teams use ex-crew chiefs or other organizational figures to focus on that dedicated role.
“He’s doing a pretty good job balancing that, but that just goes back to a small team issue,” LaJoie said. “You have to pick and choose what you spend your time and energy on away from making the racecar go fast just to keep everything in order. But when he’s plugged in being a crew chief he’s damn good at it, and when he’s plugged in to be a competition director he’s really good at that in terms of processes in the shop. It’s hard asking him to do both, but he’s done a good job with all of that so far.”
If there is anywhere that has illustrated what LaJoie and his team are capable of at their best, it just so happens to be the next stop on the Cup Series schedule. Last March at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Corey LaJoie earned his best-ever Cup Series finish with a fifth-place run. When he returned in July, LaJoie led 19 laps, led on the final restart with three laps to go, and was in second at the white flag setting up to make his move for the win in Turn 1.