The NASCAR Cup Race at Atlanta Motor Speedway was a Veteran Affair
Veteran drivers finished the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the top eight positions.
Veteran drivers may be feeling out of place thanks to an influx of young Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers that have quickly moved up the ranks in recent years. The youth movement in NASCAR is real, but with Kevin Harvick’s win at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, veteran drivers can hang their heads high—at least for this week.
NASCAR Nation is no longer talking about the changing of the guard because it happened. The new conversation—thanks in part to Kyle Busch—is all about NASCAR promoting young drivers over veterans. One veteran driver that destiny seems to be overlooking lately is Jimmie Johnson. His woes continued during the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Johnson started from the twenty-second position and finished the race in twenty-seventh, only completing 321 of 325 laps. Atlanta seemed like the perfect track for the seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Champion to end his slump—he is a five-time winner at the speedway—but unlike Harvick, destiny did not intervene.
While it may not have been Johnson’s day (he incurred heavy damage during the race), other veteran drivers fared well at the old track. In fact, a crew of seasoned drivers made up the top eight spots. Kyle Larson placed ninth while hometown favorite and Hall of Famer Awesome Bill Elliott from Dawsonville’s son, Chase Elliott rounded out the top 10. Runner-up Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski won stage two and Clint Bowyer followed him with a third-place finish. Unlike Hamlin who led twenty-six laps, Bowyer didn’t take to the front at any point of the race, but things are clicking for him. Keeping an eye on the driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing driver’s season should be something worthwhile. Pole sitter and Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch as well as his older brother Kurt of Stewart-Haas Racing didn’t do too bad either. Kyle Busch led seven laps and Kurt Busch managed fifty-two laps in the lead himself for seventh and eighth place respectively. Kurt Busch led the second most laps of the entire race behind race-winner Kevin Harvick.
(Position finished, Driver, Manufacturer, Laps completed.)
1. Kevin Harvick, Ford, 325 laps
2. Brad Keselowski, Ford, 325 laps
3. Clint Bowyer, Ford, 325 laps
4. Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 325 laps
5. Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 325 laps
6. Joey Logano, Ford, 325 laps
7. Kyle Busch, Toyota, 325 laps
8. Kurt Busch, Ford, 325 laps
9. Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 325 laps
10. Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 325 laps
11. Erik Jones, Toyota, 325 laps
12. Ryan Blaney, Ford, 325 laps
13. Aric Almirola, Ford, 325 laps
14. Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 324 laps
15. Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 324 laps
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 324 laps
17. Paul Menard, Ford, 324 laps
18. William Byron, Chevrolet, 323 laps
19. Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 323 laps
20. Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 322 laps
21. Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 322 laps
22. Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 322 laps
23. David Ragan, Ford, 321 laps
24. Michael McDowell, Ford, 321 laps
25. Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 321 laps
26. Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 321 laps
27. Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 321 laps
28. Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 320 laps
29. AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 320 laps
30. Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 319 laps
31. Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 319 laps
32. Darrell Wallace Jr., Chevrolet, 319 laps
33. Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, 310 laps
34. Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 305 laps
35. Trevor Bayne, Ford, 292 laps, DNF, Engine
36. Gray Gaulding Jr., Toyota, 99 laps, DNF, Steering
Thirty-six cars lined up for the start of the race in total at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. There were five cautions and only thirteen cars on the lead lap when the race concluded. Luck was on one driver’s side, however—Kevin Harvick. The weather forecast was shaky at best, but it turned out to be a win-win for all drivers and fans. “Yeah, I mean, it's a good track,” said Keselowski. “A lot of fun to race on. Of course, we ran up front so we're a little biased, but I had a blast today, and just really, really working your tail off inside the car, and it feels kind of old school, which I like.”
Next up on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series calendar is the first of two races scheduled for Las Vegas Motor Speedway this season. Witnessing who Lady Luck will touch next is sure to be fun—unfortunately, what happens in Las Vegas won’t stay in Vegas.
MORE TO READ
Kevin Harvick Dominates at the Atlanta Motor Speedway
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion Kevin Harvick honors and salutes the late great Dale Earnhardt Sr. once again in Atlanta.
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.