The Cup Series will travel to Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday. The drivers love racing on this old, worn out track and fans love the show they put on. Drivers must know how to manage their tires in this long race. Some are better than others. So the best way to predict the future is to look at what happened in the past at Atlanta. Here are my race notes from the 2019 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway:
Atlanta 2019 Race Notes
After rain over night, the track was hot and slick for the race. The conditions were completely different from what the teams had in practice. Other than the Stage cautions, there was only two cautions for problems in the race (lap 222 Kyle Busch getting into the wall and lap 273 when B.J. McLoed ran into Ryan Preece).
– The 10 drivers who looked the best in the race: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer
Stage / Race Results
|Stage 1||Stage 2||
|1. Kyle Larson||1. Kevin Harvick||1. Brad Keselowski|
|2. Kevin Harvick||2. Kyle Larson||2. Martin Truex Jr.|
|3. Aric Almirola||3. Martin Truex Jr.||3. Kurt Busch|
|4. Kurt Busch||4. Ryan Blaney||4. Kevin Harvick|
|5. Martin Truex Jr.||5. Denny Hamlin||5. Clint Bowyer|
|6. Ryan Blaney||6. Joey Logano||6. Kyle Busch|
|7. Joey Logano||7. Kurt Busch||7. Erik Jones|
|8. Denny Hamlin||8. Erik Jones||8. Aric Almirola|
|9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||9. Kyle Busch||9. Chris Buescher|
|10. Clint Bowyer||10. Clint Bowyer||10. Daniel Suarez|
– Brad Keselowski had the stomach flu and after missing some practice time he decided to gut it out and race. He ran the entire first Stage outside the top 15. Crew chief Paul Wolfe worked on the car and Keselowski raced his way to the top 5 in Stage 2. Keselowski used the top lane to run down Joey Logano. He passed his teammate with 33 laps left in the race to go on to Victory Lane.
– Kyle Larson made his way to the front at the top of the track and dominated the race. He probably would have won the race if he did not have a speeding penalty with 98 laps to go. The penalty took Larson from 1st to 21st. Matt Kenseth will drive this car Sunday.
– Kevin Harvick had a power steering issues but once they got it fixed, he went to the top 3. He led a lot of laps and ran almost every lap in the top 5. He faded at the end of the race because his splitter was worn off the car from dragging in on the track.
– Martin Truex Jr. was the best at running the bottom and ran in the top 5. The No. 19 car was the fastest in final practice but it was off when the race started because the track conditions were completely different. Cole Pearn fixed up the car in the first Stage and Truex gained a lot of speed. His car was the best on the long runs. Truex finished 2nd.
– Kyle Busch started in the back in a backup car and raced his way to the top 6 in 40 laps. His car had top-10 speed, but not top-5. His car was fast on the short runs but the tires wore out quickly. Busch had a flat tire on lap 222 and he got into the wall. He rebounded for a 6th-place finish.
– Denny Hamlin ran most of the race in the top 10. His car was one of the best on the short runs but like his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates; his wore his tires wore out after about 60 laps. He was able to muscle out an 11th-place finish.
– Aric Almirola won the pole and led the first 35 laps. He lost time on pit road and ran the 1st stage in the top 3. The No. 10 car had a speeding penalty and it put Almirola in 17th place. It was tough for him to recover. The No. 10 car ran most of the last two Stages just outside the top 10 be was able to find speed at the end of the race to finish 8th.
– Ryan Blaney ran the first Stage in the top 10, the 2nd Stage in the top 5 and then took the lead at the start of the final Stage. He really ran well at the top of the track. The jack broke on the last pit stop and ruined Blaney’s day. His car had top-5 speed but he finished 22nd.
– Joey Logano got loose in qualifying and started in the back. His car was good on the long runs and he slowly worked his way inside the top-10. Alex Bowman ran into Logano on pit road and cost the No. 22 car a lot of spots. His car really looked good at the end of the race. He had to pit with 20 laps left for a loose wheel and it took him from 2nd to 22nd. Logano had a good chance to win if his team did not have so many mistakes.
– Chase Elliott was running in the top 10 but he hit a piece of debris and it caused damage to the nose of his car. He was too tight after that and the car lost all of its speed. Elliott finished 19th but his car had top-10 speed.
– Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified upfront and ran in the top 12 for the first two Stages but a speeding penalty on pit road put him in the back of the field. Stenhouse had an 14.7 average running position but finished 18th.
– Jimmie Johnson had a horrible race but he had a different crew chief. He told Kevin Mendering the car was too loose after Stage one and Johnson said, “You made it even worse.” I would not give too much stock into how Johnson ran in this race because everything is different for the No. 48 team now. Mendering was fired and the Chevy’s have a lot more speed.
– Chris Buescher was the surprise driver of the race. He ran between 10th and 15th for most of the race. He found his way inside the top 10 in the final Stage. He ran the top of the track to manage his tires. Buescher finished 9th.
– Ryan Newman did his thing in the race. He ran almost every lap between 10th and 15th place. He did a good job of managing his tires, did not make any mistakes on pit road and finished 13th. I would expect a similar race from Newman Sunday.
– Daniel Hemric really looked good in this race. He was running 6th with 16 laps left when Hemric was forced to pit for a flat tire. This is important because Tyler Reddick will be driving the No. 8 car in this race and Atlanta is one of his best tracks.
Follow me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR