After a crash-filled Daytona 500, NASCAR moves into Atlanta’s weathered 1.54-mile asphalt track.
Most NASCAR drivers favor the track as the surface allows for racing in multiple grooves. Tires wear out putting a greater importance on long-run rate.
Kevin Harvick won the first two stages at Atlanta, but a penalty allowed Brad Keselowski in for the flag. Keselowski passed Kyle Larson for the lead with six laps to go for his first win of 2017.
All eyes will be on Georgia native Chase Elliott this weekend has he looks to capture his first Cup Series win in his hometown track. Back in the No. 9 car, a number made famous by his Hall of Fame father Bill, Chase does have a fair chance to win based on last season’s figures.
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Elliott recorded two second-place endings, seven top fives, and nine top-10s in 1.5-mile paths in 2017. The Dawsonville, Ga., native also averaged the third-best average finish of Cup drivers (9.82) on 1.5-mile monitors this past year.
Before Keselowski’s win last year, Elliott’s teammate Jimmie Johnson was successful in two Atlanta races. Johnson, who possesses a Cup Series record 28 wins 1.5-mile tracks in his career, has five wins, 14 top fives along with a series-best driver rating of 105.4 in Atlanta.
While Johnson has become the older king of 1.5-mile monitors, our choice to win Sunday is reigning champion Martin Truex Jr., who has been nearly unbeatable at intermediate ovals.
Truex won seven of the 11 1.5-mile speedway races last season with nine top fives for an average finish of 2.5. He’s still looking for his first win at Atlanta but we expect him to get the job done Sunday (if the rain stays off) despite starting out from the back of the field.
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