After a crash-filled Daytona 500, NASCAR moves into Atlanta’s weathered 1.54-mile asphalt trail.
Many NASCAR drivers favor the monitor as the surface permits for side-by-side racing in grooves. Tires wear out putting a higher significance.
This past year, Kevin Harvick won the first two phases at Atlanta, but a penalty allowed Brad Keselowski to swoop in for the checkered 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 looks 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 chance to win according to last season’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 finish of Cup drivers (9.82) on 1.5-mile tracks last year.
Ahead of Keselowski’s win last year, Elliott’s teammate Jimmie Johnson was successful in two Atlanta races that are straight. Johnson, who owns a Cup Series record 28 wins 1.5-mile tracks in his career, has five wins, 14 top fives together with a series-best driver rating of 105.4 in Atlanta.
While Johnson has become the older king of 1.5-mile tracks, our pick 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 end of 2.5. He is still searching for his first win in Atlanta but we expect him to get the job done Sunday (if the rain holds off) despite starting out from the back of the area.
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