Preview: The 2018 NASCAR Race at Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Daytona 500, the Super Bowl of races, is in the rearview mirror. Now, the real grind of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series begins.
The long, grueling NASCAR season kicked off with history and heartbreak. The great American Race saw a first-time winner, a controversial finish, a colossal moment, and a budding feud between two drivers that has already spilled into week two of the NASCAR season.
NASCAR Nation is riding a feverish high over Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.’s history-making moment at the Daytona 500, but it’s time to switch gears and get ready for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The celebrated 1.54-mile track, which was last repaved in 1997, is a favorite among many active drivers. Fans are sure to be in for a gripping race as driver’s battle for stage points and a win on the old asphalt for 500 miles. To help you prepare for what should be an exciting race, here are some things you need to know heading into the second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race of the 2018 season.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Weekend Schedule at The Atlanta Speedway:
Saturday, February 24, 2018
12 p.m.-1:20 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice, FS1 (Canada: TSN 2) (Follow live)
PRESS PASS (Watch live)
Sunday, February 25, 2018
1:06 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (325 laps, 500.5 miles), FOX (Canada: TSN 1, 3, 4, 5) (Follow live)
PRESS PASS (Watch live)
5:45 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series post-race
Note: All times are EST.
Position Driver Best Speed
1. Kyle Busch 184.652 mph
2. Ryan Newman 184.419 mph
3. Kevin Harvick 184.388 mph
4. Daniel Suarez 184.229 mph
5. Brad Keselowski 183.856 mph
6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 183.722 mph
7. Kurt Busch 183.485 mph
8. Kyle Larson 183.449 mph
9. Clint Bowyer 182.284 mph
10. Erik Jones 181.052 mph
11. Aric Almirola 0.00 mph
12. Denny Hamlin 0.00 mph
13. Jamie McMurray 182.825 mph
14. Kasey Kahne 182.507 mph
15. Paul Menard 182.464 mph
16. Joey Logano 182.129 mph
17. Michael McDowell 181.955 mph
18. Alex Bowman 181.634 mph
19. Darrell Wallace Jr. 181.467 mph
20. Trevor Bayne 181.307 mph
21. AJ Allmendinger 181.248 mph
22. Jimmie Johnson 181.236 mph
23. William Byron 180.804 mph
24. Chris Buescher 0.00 mph
25. Austin Dillon 181.753 mph
26. Ryan Blaney 181.550 mph
27. Chase Elliott 181.082 mph
28. Ty Dillon 180.293 mph
29. David Ragan 180.117 mph
30. Matt DiBenedetto 178.914 mph
31. Gray Gaulding 178.269 mph
32. Cole Whitt 177.045 mph
33. Jeffrey Earnhardt 175.050 mph
34. Ross Chastain 174.362 mph
35. Martin Truex Jr. 0.00 mph
36. Harrison Rhodes 0.00 mph
Storylines of the Week
As we prepare for the upcoming race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, most of the conversation is still centered around Austin Dillon (he failed to advance in qualifying at Atlanta) returning the No. 3 back to Victory Lane at the Daytona 500, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.’s historic run, and of course, the drama between Denny Hamlin and Wallace Jr. The discord between the two, which started on the track at the Daytona International Speedway, spilled over into a heated exchange after the race and is still going strong even though the series has moved on to another track.
Hamlin and Wallace Jr. seem to be shrugging off the idea that their fallout will be an ongoing issue, but fans aren’t too sure. When asked whether or not he was officially removed from Hamlin’s golf and basketball leagues, Wallace said, “Both. I’ve been removed from both, yeah so, although I didn’t get the direct text. It went through like five or six people, so that’s classy, I guess. … I have been told the golf league is out. I removed myself from the basketball league. Just after the conversation, we had that day, I was like, whatever, I guess I’m not coming back. That’s OK.” Hamlin, who seems unperturbed, had this to say when asked about the dispute: “I’ll just keep moving forward and try to do the best I can and let whoever tell their side and let it be.” Veteran drivers are also a bit upset with Hamlin for his comments that the drug Adderall is prevalent among drivers in NASCAR. It should be interesting to see what happens on the track at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
While some veterans seem to be hitting their stride during qualifying at the Atlanta Motor Speedway there was one driver, the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion, who is heading into the weekend under unfavorable conditions. Unfortunately, Martin Truex Jr. did not make a lap in qualifying, thanks to failing pre-qualifying inspection. Truex Jr. will start from the back of the 36-car field—the smallest in more than 20 years at Atlanta Motor Speedway—after three failed inspections. His car chief will be suspended for Sunday’s race. “It is what it is,” said Cole Pearn, crew chief for the No. 78 team. “We just have to make the best of it. That’s our jobs from here.” Veteran driver Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet also had issues clearing inspection.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch secured his 28th career pole and first P1 starting position at the Atlanta Motor Speedway after 20 attempts. Busch edged out Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet who will start in the second position on the first row. Veteran drivers Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski, who are both past NASCAR Cup champions, will make up seven of the top ten starting positions for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
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