Following a crash-filled Daytona 500, NASCAR moves into Atlanta’s weathered 1.54-mile asphalt trail.
As the surface allows for side-by-side racing in grooves the track is preferred by many NASCAR drivers. Tires wear out quickly on the oval, putting a higher importance.
Kevin Harvick won the first two phases at Atlanta, 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 gets he seems to capture his first Cup Series win in his hometown track. 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.
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Elliott listed two second-place endings, seven top fives, and nine top-10s in 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 monitors last year.
Before Keselowski’s win Elliott’s teammate Jimmie Johnson was victorious in two Atlanta races that are straight. Johnson, who owns a Cup Series record 28 wins on 1.5-mile paths in his profession, has five wins, 14 top fives along with a series-best driver evaluation of 105.4 at Atlanta.
While Johnson has become the old 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 year 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 holds off) despite starting from the rear of the field.