Hometown Guy Takes the Win – NASCAR Cup Series at Atlanta 2

Yesterday, the NASCAR Cup Series made their second visit this year to Atlanta Motor Speedway. Earlier this year, the new high-banked configuration of the 1.5 mile track produced exciting superspeedway-esque racing, and this time was no different. Due to qualifying being rained out, Chase Elliott in the #9 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro started on pole position in his home race, with Ross Chastain’s #1 Trackhouse Chevy alongside. Behind the pair was Elliott’s teammate, Kyle Larson in the #5, and the most recent first-time winner Tyler Reddick in the #8 RCR Chevrolet. In the third row was rookie Austin Cindric in the #2 Penske Ford and his teammate Ryan Blaney in the #12. A pair of Chevrolets lined up behind them, Daniel Suarez in the #99 and Alex Bowman in the #48. Martin Truex, Jr. in the #19 was the highest starting Toyota in ninth, and Kevin Harvick’s #4 alongside rounded out the top ten.

Before even the first corner of the race, Ross Chastain was already ahead of Chase Elliott. Leaving his drafting partner, Larson, Chastain blocked Elliott on the top lane. Kyle Larson had a moment where the car got loose, causing a huge check-up in the bottom lane. With this plate-track style racing, there were tons of drivers battling up front battling for the lead, like Blaney, Bowman, and Denny Hamlin in the #11. After laps and laps of constant shuffling, Chase Elliott was ahead in time for the competition caution around lap twenty-five.

The restart saw Elliott get a huge push from his teammate Bowman to try to pull ahead of Blaney on the inside lane, which proved ineffective against the Penske driver. Blaney, with help from Hamlin, managed to stay competitive against Elliott for much of the stage, but it wouldn’t be enough as Chase Elliott managed to take the victory in stage one.

Elliott lost a handful of spots on the restart, while Tyler Reddick and Martin Truex, Jr. were leading the field. As Blaney challenged Truex for the lead, a few cars in the mid field (#42 of Ty Dillon, #17 of Chris Buescher and #78 of B.J. McLeod) spun on the backstretch, bringing out the first caution for an accident of the afternoon.

Joe Gibbs Racing locked out the front row for this restart with Martin Truex, Jr. in the #19 and Christopher Bell in the #20. Not long after they went green, Elliott managed to shuffle his way back up to the top three, taking the lead from Truex with the help of Reddick. Just a few laps later, Ross Chastain performed a very aggressive push on Truex, putting him sideways and collecting a few other cars. A lengthy caution followed.

Rookie Harrison Burton in the #21 was the lead car at the restart. He was surprisingly able to hold his own for just a little bit, even against the more experienced William Byron. Not too much time would pass, however, before the caution was thrown for the #17 of Buescher being in the wall. Just a few laps after that restart, Briscoe would spin bringing out another caution.

With less than twenty laps to go in the stage, Reddick led the field. Elliott quickly found his way up to the leader, and soon passed him. Reddick stayed within striking distance, but the #48 of Bowman blew a tire, spun and brought the caution out with two laps to go in the stage. Chase Elliott won the second stage.

Austin Cindric in the #2 and Aric Almirola in the #10 were up front when the race went green, ninety-five to go. Just five laps into the final stage, the #15 of Garret Smithely lost the car, causing a crash and collecting many good cars.

Erik Jones in the #43 led at the restart thanks to a good push from Cindric. Chastain, with help from Elliott, challenged for the lead. After a good battle, Chastain led for a comfortable amount of time. Unfortunately, far behind the leaders, Kyle Busch in the #18 and Cody Ware in the #51 were involved in an incident, bringing out another caution.

What followed was the longest green flag stint the whole race. Corey Lajoie in the #7 was holding his own against former Cup Champion Chase Elliott for what felt like ages. The two swapped spots over and over, an excellent display of racing that lasted for more than forty laps. It wasn’t until (relatively) much later that this was interrupted. Christopher Bell spun exiting turn four with twenty-seven laps to go, bringing out a caution. Bell’s luck only got worse, as when he exited his pit stall the wheel came off the car.

Truex sat comfortably in first place with Lajoie right behind, but right behind the #1 of Ross Chastain made contact with the #11 of Denny Hamlin, sending Hamlin into a spin and essentially ruining his day.

Corey Lajoie led the race against the others for just a moment, as a few cars behind them would spin on the backstretch.

On the final restart, the #7 of Lajoie held his own against the championship contenders. He was only passed a lap later by Chase Elliott, but even then remained in striking distance. As Elliott took the white flag, Lajoie had an incredible run going into the second corner. Elliott moved to block, but it was just a moment too late, as he fenced Lajoie, causing a huge pileup. After that carnage, the yellow flag was thrown on the final lap, and Chase Elliott won his home race, becoming the second Georgian to do so after his father, Bill Elliott.

Photo Credit///@TeamHendrick on Twitter.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: