Following a crash-filled Daytona 500, NASCAR proceeds into Atlanta’s weathered 1.54-mile asphalt trail.
Since the surface allows for side-by-side racing in numerous grooves, the track is preferred by most NASCAR drivers. Tires wear out putting a greater significance.
Kevin Harvick won the first two stages at Atlanta last year, but a punishment allowed Brad Keselowski in for the checkered 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 seems to catch his first Cup Series win. Back in the No. 9 car, a number made famous by his Hall of Fame father Bill, Chase does have a fair shot to win based on last year’s figures.
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Elliott recorded two second-place finishes, seven top fives, and nine top-10s at 1.5-mile tracks in 2017. The Dawsonville, Ga., native also averaged the third-best average end of Cup drivers (9.82) on 1.5-mile tracks this past year.
Before Keselowski’s win Elliott’s teammate Jimmie Johnson was victorious in two Atlanta races that are straight. Johnson, who possesses a Cup Series record 28 wins on 1.5-mile paths in his career, has five wins, 14 top fives along with a series-best driver evaluation of 105.4 in Atlanta.
While Johnson has become the older king of 1.5-mile tracks, our choice to win Sunday is reigning champion Martin Truex Jr., that has been nearly unbeatable at intermediate ovals.
Truex won seven of those 11 1.5-mile speedway races last season with nine top fives for an average finish of 2.5. He is still searching for his first win at Atlanta but we expect him to have the job done Sunday (if the rain stays off) despite starting out from the back of the field.
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