Following a crash-filled Daytona 500, NASCAR moves into Atlanta’s weathered 1.54-mile asphalt track.
Since the surface allows for racing in numerous grooves, the monitor is preferred by many NASCAR drivers. Tires wear out quickly on the oval, putting a greater significance on long-run rate.
Kevin Harvick won the first two phases at Atlanta last year, but a penalty allowed Brad Keselowski to swoop 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 gets he seems to catch his first Cup Series win at 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 according to last year’s figures.
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Elliott listed two second-place finishes, seven top fives, and nine top-10s at 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 last year.
Ahead of Keselowski’s win Elliott’s teammate Jimmie Johnson was successful in two straight Atlanta races. Johnson, who possesses a Cup Series record 28 wins on 1.5-mile tracks in his career, has five wins, 14 top fives along with a series-best driver rating of 105.4 at 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 year with nine top fives for an average finish of 2.5. He is still searching for his first win in Atlanta but we expect him to have the job done Sunday (if the rain holds off) despite starting from the rear of the field.
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