Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – HAMPTON, GA – The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Atlanta, Ga for the second race of the 2018 season off the heels of one of the most historic Daytona 500’s ever.
Austin Dillon’s win 20 years after the last time the No. 3 graced victory lane in the 500 and Bubba Wallace’s historic 2nd place will be major talking points heading into the first and ever-so-important 1.5 mile track of the season.
Dillon will attempt to go back-to-back with a win at Atlanta but questions abound about the performance of the new Chevy Camaro ZL-1 on tracks where downforce is key. The last driver to win the first two races of the season was former Cup Series Champion Matt Kenseth in 2009.
Wallace Jr. has no starts at the high-banked Georgia oval in the Cup Series, however past RPM Motorsports performances at the track show one win in 2009 with Kasey Kahne (fall race), three top five’s and seven top ten’s. The new Chevy Camaro and a rookie driver leave those past results in question.
The Man to beat over the last few years in “Hot”lanta is Kevin Harvick. With 100 plus laps led in four of his last five races there. His 292 laps led at Atlanta in the spring of last year were the most of any driver, though his chances of victory were lost with a late penalty on pit road.
Statistically Harvick’s track record speaks for itself. With one win, six top five’s and 12 top ten’s Harvick could be the one to be reckoned with come Sunday afternoon. Of those 12 top ten’s ten of them have been racked up in the last 13 events.
Chase Elliott looks to add to the family history at their home track on the schedule. Elliott’s father, Bill, captured 5 victories at the Speedway. Chase has only run two events in Atlanta, with one top ten and one top five.
Jimmie Johnson is the all-time win leader among current drivers at Atlanta, with five wins, 14 top fives and 16 top ten’s and an average finish of 11th.
The sandy, bumpy worn out pavement that creates some of the best racing on the entire Cup Series schedule will host the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series beginning this Friday, with Practice and Qualifying for all three of NASCAR’s National Touring Series.
Saturday’s on track activity will include a double header for the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Both races will be televised by Fox Sports 1 beginning at 2:00 PM eastern time.
Sunday’s Folds of Honor 500 from Atlanta will begin at 2:00 PM eastern time on Fox Network Television.