After a crash-filled Daytona 500, NASCAR moves into Atlanta’s weathered 1.54-mile asphalt track.
The track is preferred by many NASCAR drivers since the surface permits for side-by-side racing in grooves. Tires wear out quickly on the oblong, putting a higher significance.
Kevin Harvick won the first two phases at Atlanta, 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 has he looks 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 has a fair chance to win according to last season’s numbers.
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Elliott recorded 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 end of Cup drivers (9.82) on 1.5-mile monitors 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 1.5-mile paths in his career, has five wins, 14 top fives along with a series-best driver evaluation of 105.4 at 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 the 11 1.5-mile speedway races last year with nine top fives for an average end of 2.5. He is still looking for his first win in Atlanta but we expect him to have the job done Sunday (if the rain stays off) despite starting from the back of the field.
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