2020 Cup Series preview: Atlanta

Photo by Chris Graythen | Getty Images

Following a classic at Bristol Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series continues south to Hampton, Georgia for a race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

Atlanta is a 1.5-mile intermediate track with an old and rough asphalt surface. Due to the surface, the track wears out tires fast, which forces driver to wheel their cars around the track and have more off-throttle time in the turns rather than holding down the throttle for an entire lap. Each team will have 13 sets of tires for the race. The fuel window is around 50-55 laps, but drivers will come down prior to their window to get four fresh Goodyear tires. All these elements, along with a hot and slick racetrack could provide an entertaining product Sunday afternoon.

Chase Elliott won the pole after a random draw on Wednesday. He possesses the best average finish (10.5) of all drivers with four races under his belt at the track. It is also his home track as he is from nearby Dawsonville. He will be looking for another redemption win after wrecking himself and Joey Logano with three laps to go at Bristol last Sunday.

Jimmie Johnson is the winningest active driver at Atlanta with five wins but hasn’t won a race at the track since 2016. 2020 has been hit or miss for Johnson. He has four top-10 finishes, but has finishes of 35th or worst in three races this season. Johnson will start 15th on Sunday.

Brad Keselowski has won the last two Sunday races and is a winner in two of the last three races at Atlanta. Everything is going his way for the Team Penske driver and he will be a driver to watch all day. Keselowski will roll off from the sixth position.

Points leader Kevin Harvick saw his streak of top-10 finishes come to an end last Sunday, but returns to a track where he has had a lot of success. He’s a two-time winner at the track (2001, 2018) and has 14 top-10 finishes in 29 races. Harvick will start ninth.

A driver who has been on a cold streak recently and hasn’t ran well at Atlanta is Alex Bowman. While he does have a win and a berth in the playoffs, Bowman hasn’t finished inside the top 10 since NASCAR returned at Darlington on May 17. He has a dismal average finish of 23.2 at the track. However, Bowman has improved on his finish each year and will look to continue that trend on Sunday. He will start eighth.

Stages for Sunday’s race end on lap 105, lap 210 and the finish on lap 325.

TV coverage for the race begins at 3:00 p.m. EST on Fox. You can listen to the race on the Performance Racing Network.

Starting lineup: https://www.jayski.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2020/06/05/2020-10cup-lineup.pdf

Goodyear Tire Notes: https://www.jayski.com/2020/06/02/goodyear-fast-facts-atlanta-3/

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