Following a crash-filled Daytona 500, NASCAR moves to Atlanta’s weathered 1.54-mile asphalt track.
The track is preferred by most NASCAR drivers since the surface allows for racing in grooves. Tires wear out putting a greater significance on long-run rate.
This past year, Kevin Harvick won the first two stages at Atlanta, but a penalty allowed Brad Keselowski to swoop in for the flag. Keselowski handed Kyle Larson for the lead with six rebounds 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. Back at 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 season’s numbers.
NASCAR in Atlanta: Updated weather forecast, radar for Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
Elliott listed two second-place finishes, seven top fives, and nine top-10s in 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 tracks this past year.
Before Keselowski’s win last year, Elliott’s teammate Jimmie Johnson was victorious in two Atlanta races that are consecutive. Johnson, who owns 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 evaluation of 105.4 in Atlanta.
While Johnson has been the older king of 1.5-mile monitors, our pick to win Sunday is reigning champion Martin Truex Jr., who has been nearly unbeatable at intermediate ovals.
Truex won seven of those 11 1.5-mile speedway races last year with nine top fives for an average end 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 from the back of the field.
Read more: centralsportsnews.com