After a crash-filled Daytona 500, NASCAR moves into Atlanta’s weathered 1.54-mile asphalt track.
As the surface permits for racing in grooves, the monitor is favored by most NASCAR drivers. Tires wear out quickly on the oval, setting a greater significance on long-run speed.
Kevin Harvick won the first two stages 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. 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 year’s figures.
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Elliott listed two second-place finishes, 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 this past year.
Before Keselowski’s win last year, 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 tracks in his profession, has five wins, 14 top fives together with a series-best motorist evaluation of 105.4 at Atlanta.
While Johnson has been the older king of 1.5-mile tracks, our pick 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 end of 2.5. He is still looking for his first win at Atlanta but we expect him to get the job done Sunday (if the rain stays off) despite starting out from the back of the field.
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