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Daniel Suarez wins Chaotic Race in Atlanta in an Epic Finish

As the confetti fell in victory lane in Daytona on the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Axalta Chevy last week, it was William Byron celebrating his victory in the Daytona 500. Now, the sport headed northeast from Daytona Beach to Atlanta this past weekend. At the end of 2021, Atlanta Motor Speedway was repaved and reconfigured into a hybrid of an intermediate track and a superspeedway track. At first, this was not a hit with the fans and the drivers. While the racing was good with the new configuration, it took a while to grow on the fans. Now, it is quite possibly the best track that the Cup Series goes to now. Who would’ve thought that the gamble that Marcus Smith, president of Speedway Motorsports, would pay off? Smith also led the project that revitalized North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Last season, both races in Atlanta were fantastic to watch. This just made the hype real for this past weekend. Fans were expecting great racing heading into Atlanta, and they did not leave disappointed. The fans were also expecting their fair share of chaos, and they got that as well. With a great race, a great finish, and a bit of a surprise winner, let’s talk about the awesome racing in Atlanta.

Thrilling Racing in Atlanta:

For years, Atlanta was a fan-favorite stop because of the old, worn-down track surface that would produce great racing. Now, as previously said, Atlanta was transformed into a hybrid of an intermediate track and a superspeedway. Everyone knew that the racing would be intense, and it showed early. On lap two, a 16-car crash would happen on the front straightaway but would only knock out one car. That was Josh Williams. The rest of stage one would see its share of cautions, but eventually, Michael McDowell would win the stage. Stage two would be as action-packed as stage one and would go green until the final lap. Joey Logano would get tight out of turn two and force Chris Buescher and himself into the wall. The stage would end under caution as Austin Cindric would win the stage.

The final stage would be where business picked up. The tide of the race changed with a late crash that involved Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson. Both Larson and Keselowski would be knocked out of the race. After a few cautions, the race would eventually wind down to five laps to go. There would be three drivers in contention for the win, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, and Daniel Suarez. Suarez would lead the field to green on the final restart, but Blaney would get the lead back. As the laps clicked off, it was looking to be Ryan Blaney’s race to win. Four of Blaney’s 10 Cup Series wins have come on drafting tracks. As the field screamed down into turn three on the last lap, Kyle Busch would make it three wide between Blaney and Suarez.

The three drivers would race three-wide from the entrance to turn three to the start/finish line. In a three-wide photo finish, Daniel Suarez would win on the outside lane over Ryan Blaney by 0.003 seconds. This finish on Sunday evening was the second closest in NASCAR Cup Series history. It was a jaw-dropping finish that race fans would dream of. It was Suarez’s second career win in the Cup Series, and his first since Sonoma in June of 2022. This is what NASCAR needed. Their gamble with Atlanta has paid off tremendously. They have the chance to keep the ball rolling with the great racing at Atlanta come September. But is Atlanta the best race on the Cup Series schedule currently?

Is Atlanta the best race on the Cup Series schedule?

For the last few years, there really hasn’t been a “best race” on the schedule for the Cup Series. But now, there’s a clear answer as to the best race and the best track for the Cup Series. That is Atlanta. For over 20 years, Bristol has been the fan-favorite track to go see a race at, and it still is a great track. But the racing at Bristol in the last three years has not been great. Atlanta is truly the hottest ticket on the Cup Series circuit. With what we saw on Sunday, how could we not be excited for the next Atlanta date? Oh yeah, Atlanta is the first race to open the NASCAR Playoffs come September. If you thought that the racing on Sunday was intense, just wait till this coming September.

The moral of the story, yes. Atlanta is the best race for the Cup Series on today’s schedule. This race in Atlanta this past weekend was the best of the Next-Gen era. It was also the best Cup Series race since Bristol in September of 2021. If there is one ticket to recommend to new fans of the sport today, it would be Atlanta. NASCAR has something special with the Cup Series in Atlanta. If they don’t change the configuration of other intermediate tracks, it will be special every time the Cup Series goes to Atlanta. But next weekend, NASCAR is heading to another one of their best tracks to make something special happen.

What to expect from Las Vegas:

Las Vegas, The Sin City. You know what they say. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Last October, The Cup Series put on a great race in Vegas. It was Kyle Larson clinching a Championship Four spot for the second time in his career. That was Larson’s second career win in Vegas. It was Hendrick domination for both Las Vegas races last season. William Byron led 176 of the 271 laps in the spring for his first Las Vegas victory. Hendrick Motorsports has won three of the last four races in Las Vegas. Expect that Hendrick domination in Las Vegas to continue. Kyle Larson is going to go back-to-back at Las Vegas for his third win in The Sin City. If it is another driver other than Larson in victory lane on Sunday, don’t be surprised if it’s Joey Logano.

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