After a wild weekend at Daytona Beach, The Monster Energy Cup Series introduced the new 2019 racing package at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This was the first race where the new package was run and there were a lot of uncertainties heading into the weekend. The package was very promising in the testing sessions during the offseason. The question was how the package would run on the older surface that is Atlanta Motor Speedway?
Aric Almirola led the field to the green flag and was able to take early control. On lap 36, the competition caution was waved and the whole field was able to bring their cars down pit road. Kyle Larson won the race off pit road and was able to lead the field to the end and win the first stage of the race.
Kevin Harvick came out of the stage break with the lead but had to battle Kyle Larson for the top spot. Green flag stops started occurring on lap 42 and Larson was able to cycle back to the lead. Harvick was able to catch back up to Larson and make a pass late in stage two to win the stage.
Another battle between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson ensued at the beginning of the final stage of the race. Larson over took Harvick and so did Martin Truex Jr. for second place. On lap 222, Kyle Busch had a tire go down and hit the fence. This brought out the caution right as the field was beginning to make green-flag stops again. At this point, Truex Jr. was battling Larson for the lead, but Kevin Harvick led the field to the green flag after Kyle Larson encountered a speeding penalty on pit road. Ryan Blaney took the lead away from Kevin Harvick shortly after the caution.
A caution occurred again during green-flag stops. Ryan Preece ran into the back of the 52 car while on pit road. Preece was looking at his dashboard while pulling away from his pit stall and ran into the back of BJ Mcleod.
Joey Logano was the race leader after the caution and he had to battle his teammate, Brad Keselowski. Keselowski was able to pass up Logano for the race lead with thirty laps left in the race. After his two Penske teammates suffered tire failures late in the race, Keselowski had to manage his tires. Martin Truex Jr. was hunting him down and quickly passed two lapped cars and was able to reach Keselowski with two laps left in the race. Brad Keselowski held off a Martin Truex Jr. run down the backstretch and was able to seal his win in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
It was a tough weekend for Brad Keselowski.as his family was suffering from a flu-like illness. He was unsure if he would race or not on Sunday. It was the right choice to make as he was able to overcome his illness and win the race. He has been racing well in Atlanta over the last few years and this is just another continuation of that.
The new rules package looked decent in yesterday’s race. This older surface did not allow cars to stay in a drafting pack. However, it did allow drivers to make runs on one another and we saw some good side-by-side racing battles. Also, restarts after the stages and cautions were more intense than usual. The field would go three-four wide and stay side by side down into turns three and four.
Next weekend, the series will race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This is where the new package is expected to show its full potential. NASCAR fans witnessed a great testing session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and throughout the multiple twenty-five lap sessions, the drivers were able to stay together and make moves on each other.