Following a crash-filled Daytona 500, NASCAR moves to Atlanta’s weathered 1.54-mile asphalt trail.
The monitor is favored by many NASCAR drivers as the surface allows for racing in numerous grooves. Tires wear out putting a greater importance on long-run speed.
Last year, Kevin Harvick won the first two phases at Atlanta, but Brad Keselowski was allowed by a punishment 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 seems to capture his first Cup Series win. Back at the No. 9 car, a number made famous by his Hall of Fame father Bill, Chase has a fair shot to win according to last year’s numbers.
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Elliott listed two second-place endings, seven top fives, and nine top-10s at 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 tracks last year.
Before Keselowski’s win last year, Elliott’s teammate Jimmie Johnson was successful in two consecutive Atlanta races. Johnson, who possesses a Cup Series record 28 wins 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 old 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 those 11 1.5-mile speedway races last season with nine top fives for an average finish of 2.5. He’s still looking for his first win in Atlanta but we expect him to have the job done Sunday (if the rain holds off) despite starting out from the rear of the area.
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