This weekend marks ‘Round 2’ for the NASCAR Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway this season, as the competitors prepare for some high-speed, door-to-door action in the Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart this Sunday, July 10 at 3 p.m. ET on USA, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Atlanta Motor Speedway underwent a reconfiguration in the offseason narrowing the racing surface and raising the degree of banking in the Turns to 28 degrees. The results of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta back in March set track records in number of leaders (20 different drivers), lead changes (46), green flag passes for the lead (141) and total green flag passes throughout the field (6,439).
Earlier this season, Hendrick Motorsports’ driver William Byron scored his first win of the 2022 season at Atlanta Motor Speedway extending the organization’s series record wins total at the 1.54-mile facility to 15 victories. Heading into the 19th race of the season this weekend, Byron has the opportunity to become the 12th different driver to win consecutive races at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series; joining Marvin Panch (1965 sweep), Bobby Allison (1972 sweep), David Pearson (1973 sweep), Richard Petty (1974-75), Cale Yarborough (1980-81), Bill Elliott (1985 sweep, 1992 sweep), Dale Earnhardt (1989-90; 1995-96), Bobby Labonte (1997-98), Jeff Gordon (1998-99), Carl Edwards (2005 sweep) and Jimmie Johnson (2007 sweep; 2015-16).
Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain finished runner-up to Byron earlier this season at Atlanta, and this weekend and he expects the racing to be exactly what the fans are looking for.
“”It’s full superspeedway style, think of Daytona and Talladega,” said Chastain. “We need our car to be very efficient in the air and the least amount of drag and still have grip, and not be too loose or tight.”
No practice this weekend, so all the NASCAR Cup Series on-track action will kick off with Busch Light Pole Qualifying from 11:35 a.m. ET to 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 9. The qualifying session will be live on the NBC Sports App at 11:30 a.m. ET or on the USA Network at 12 p.m. ET.
- Next Race: Quaker State 400 Presented By Walmart
- The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
- The Date: Sunday, July 10
- The Time: 3 p.m. ET
- The Purse: $7,034,869
- TV: USA, 2 p.m. ET
- Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
- Distance: 400.4 miles (260 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60),
- Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 260)
Next Gen car providing plenty to talk about at the halfway point of the season
The introduction of the NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen car has been exceeding expectations as the series has reached the halfway point of the 36-race schedule. The 2022 season has produced 13 different winners, including five first-time winners, in the first 18 races. But that’s not all, diving into the Loop Data we can see the racing has been action-packed upfront and throughout the field almost each and every weekend.
Last weekend, Road America produced the NASCAR Cup Series’ 13th different winner of the season – tied with the 2002 season for second-most winners through 18 races in the Modern Era (1972-2022); behind the 2003 season with 14 different winners. The most winners to finish a 26-race regular season in the Cup Series during the Playoff Era (2004-2022) is 15 different winners in 2011. The record for different winners in an entire season in the NASCAR Cup Series is 19 different winners and it has happened four times (1956, 1958, 1961 and 2001).
The most first-time NASCAR Cup Series winners in a single season in the Modern Era (1972-2022) is five first-time winners and it has also happened four times – 2001, 2002, 2011 and 2022. This season’s first-time winners include Team Penske’s Austin Cindric (Daytona 500), Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe (Phoenix), Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain (COTA) and Daniel Suárez (Sonoma) and Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick (Road America).
The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season has also produced 844 green flag passes for the lead (GFPL); which are the series-most through the first 18 races of a season since the Loop Data statistic was initially tabulated in 2007 (the last 16 seasons). A total of eight different tracks have set records in green flag passes for the lead this season; including Circuit of The Americas (30 GFPL), Atlanta Motor Speedway (141 GFPL), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (57 GFPL), Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt (20 GFPL) Darlington Raceway (28 GFPL), Kansas Speedway (41 GFPL), Charlotte Motor Speedway (64 GFPL) and Nashville Superspeedway (47 GFPL).
Last weekend Road America became the fifth track this season to set a track record in total green flag passes throughout the field; joining Atlanta (6,439), Richmond (3,072), Bristol Dirt (2,703) and Nashville (2,470). The NASCAR Cup Series Road America race produced 2,080 total green flag passes throughout the field this season, up +36.1% from the 2021 Road America Cup race with 1,528 green flag passes. The Road America race was also the 10th event this season with a positive year-over-year percentage difference in total green flag passes. The 2022 season has amassed a total of 60,002 green flag passes through the first 18 races.
Atlanta Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Cup Series
The NASCAR Cup Series and Atlanta Motor Speedway go way back, 62 years to be exact.
Originally called Atlanta International Raceway, the track was then a 1.5-mile paved speedway, and it hosted its first NASCAR Cup Series race on July 31, 1960. The event was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Fireball Roberts from the pole position in a 1960 Pontiac.
This last year was not the first time Atlanta has undergone a reconfiguration. The track was re-measured to 1.522 miles in the spring of 1970. It was renamed to Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1990. The track layout was reversed, and the track was reconfigured to 1.54 miles between the two races in 1997.
From 1960 – 2010, Atlanta Motor Speedway hosted multiple NASCAR Cup Series races during each season; starting in 2011 the series began only visiting Atlanta once a year (2011-2020). Last season marked the first time since 2010 that the series visited the facility more than once a season. Also, from 1987 to 2000 Atlanta Motor Speedway held the final championship race of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
In total, there have been 116 NASCAR Cup races at Atlanta Motor Speedway since the first race there in 1960. The 116 NASCAR Cup Series races have produced 53 different pole winners and 46 different race winners.
Eight of the 53 NASCAR Cup Series Atlanta Motor Speedway pole winners are active this weekend.
|Active Pole Winners||Poles||Season|
|Kevin Harvick||2||2017, 2014|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||1||2013|
|Martin Truex Jr||1||2009|
Buddy Baker (1968, 1971, 1976, 1979 sweep, 1980, 1984) and Ryan Newman (2003 sweep, 2004 sweep, 2005 sweep, 2007) are tied for the NASCAR Cup Series most poles at Atlanta Motor Speedway with seven each. Kevin Harvick leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in Atlanta poles with two (2014, 2017).
Seven of the 46 NASCAR Cup Series Atlanta Motor Speedway race winners are active this weekend.
|Active Race Winners||Wins||Seasons|
|Kurt Busch||4||2021, 2010, 2009, 2002|
|Kevin Harvick||3||2020, 2018, 2001|
|Brad Keselowski||2||2019, 2017|
|Kyle Busch||2||2013, 2008|
NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway with nine victories (1980, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996, 2000). Kurt Busch (2002, 2009, 2010, 2021) leads all active NASCAR Cup Series winners at Atlanta Motor Speedway with four victories, including this race last July. William Byron is the most recent winner, grabbing the checkered flag back in March.
Playoff Bubble: Postseason spots are disappearing
‘Feeling the squeeze’ might be an understatement for the drivers without wins this season in the NASCAR Cup Series as the competitors prepare for the 19th race of the 26-race regular season at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart this Sunday, July 10 at 3 p.m. ET on USA, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, with just three spots open in the 16-driver Playoff field.
A total of 13 drivers have already won their way into the Playoffs by virtue of their victories this season – Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain, Joey Logano, William Byron, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, Austin Cindric, Kurt Busch, Chase Briscoe and Daniel Suárez.
With five first-time winners this season, that leaves five drivers that might have made the Playoffs in the past scrambling to find a way into the postseason with just eight races to go in the regular season. Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney has the most comfortable points cushion at the moment with 112 points up on the Playoff cutoff; followed by 2017 series champion and Joe Gibbs Racing’s driver Martin Truex Jr. with 61 points from the cutline. Blaney is a former Atlanta winner taking the checkered flag in March of 2021.
Most notably sitting outside the current Playoff outlook cutoff is 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion and Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick, who’s 12-year streak of making the Playoffs, the longest among active drivers, is in jeopardy as he sits in 20 points back from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell in the 16th and final transfer spot on points. Tyler Reddick bounced Harvick from inside the cutline to outside with his win at Road America. But Harvick is one of the best at Atlanta and is sure to run well this weekend. In 33 starts at the 1.54-mile track he has put up three wins (2001, 2018, 2020), nine top fives, 16 top 10s and two poles. His average finish at Atlanta is 13.040 – fifth-best among active drivers. Plus, he leads the series in pre-race driver rating at Atlanta with a 98.5. Harvick will look to rebound from his performance at Atlanta back in March when he finished 21st after starting eighth.
The only other former NASCAR Cup Series Atlanta Motor Speedway winner without a win this season is RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski, who scored his two wins at the historic track in 2017 and 2019 – both were the spring races. To accompany his pair of wins, Keselowski has also put up four top fives and nine top 10s at Atlanta. His average finish is 15.0 – eighth-best. Keselowski is also considered one of the best superspeedway racers having the most combined wins at Daytona and Talladega among active drivers. Keselowski finished 12th in the Atlanta race back in March.
|2022 Driver Playoff Outlook Following Race No. 18 – Drivers Without Wins|
|Rank||Driver||Points||Wins||Stages||Playoff Pts||Pts From Cutoff|
|15||Martin Truex Jr.||540||0||5||5||61|
|24||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||327||0||0||0||-172|
|28||Harrison Burton #||277||0||0||0||-222|
|29||Todd Gilliland #||264||0||0||0||-235|
NASCAR’s 2021 Cup Series Champion Nominated for ESPN’s Best Driver ESPY Award
NASCAR Cup Series defending champion, Kyle Larson, has been nominated for the ESPN ESPY, “Best Driver,” for the first time in his 10-year Cup series career.
Larson drives the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports and has one win this season (Auto Club Speedway), eight top fives, 10 top 10s and two poles.
Larson finished his championship earning 2021 season with series season-highs in wins (10), top-five finishes (20) and top-10 finishes (26). He joins a host of NASCAR Hall of Famers by being one of just 11 drivers to have won 10 or more times in a given year. In addition to competing in the NASCAR Cup Series, Kyle also spends his time racing on dirt, in late model races, sprint cars and midgets. Winning an additional 22 times, totaling 33 wins in 2021.
The 29-year-old Cup Series champion could join the likes of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson as NASCAR drivers who have taken home the hardware during the annual ESPY Awards show.
The 29th edition of the ESPY Awards will take place this year on Wednesday, July 20th at 8 pm ET. Fans can cast their votes for their favorite driver here, up until Sunday July 17th at 8 pm ET.
Looking ahead to this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Larson will look to redeem himself from the spring race where he finished 30th as he was involved in an incident at Lap 146 while battling for the Stage 2 victory.
Hometown Favorite: Chase Elliott leads series back to Atlanta Motor Speedway
After recently celebrating with other Georgia champions at the College Football Hall of Fame, the Dawsonville native and NASCAR Cup Series point standings leader, Chase Elliott, is returning to his home track, Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart this Sunday, July 10 at 3 p.m. ET on USA, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, looking to join his father as just the second Georgia native to win at 1.54-mile facility.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott captured his five NASCAR Cup Series victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1985 sweep, 1987, and 1992 sweep.
Now, Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott is looking for his first Cup win at Atlanta and third victory of the 2022 season. Through 18 races this year Elliott has performed at an elevated level posting two wins (Dover, Nashville), five top fives and 12 top 10s.
Looking ahead to the challenging 1.54-mile track this weekend, Elliott has made eight series starts posting one top-five and six top-10 finishes. He finished sixth in the Atlanta race back in March.
Tyler Reddick the latest of lengthy list of new winners in the Cup Series
Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick became the 203rd different race winner in NASCAR Cup Series history with his first series career victory last weekend at Road America. Now the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season is tied with 2001, 2002, and 2011 for the most first-time winners in a single season in the Modern Era (1972-2022) with five each. This season’s first-time winners include Team Penske’s Austin Cindric (Daytona 500), Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe (Phoenix), Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain (COTA) and Daniel Suárez (Sonoma) and Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick (Road America). This weekend, the series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway with nine different drivers entered in the Quaker State 400 looking for their first career Cup win.
If there is another first-time winner this weekend at Atlanta, it will be the 23rd time the NASCAR Cup Series has seen back-to-back first-time winners; most recently, last season when Michael McDowell (Daytona) and Christopher Bell (Daytona Road Course) opened up the year with two first-time winners.
It’s a wonderful time to be competing in the NASCAR Cup Series. In fact, the last decade of Cup racing (2013-2022) has produced 21 of the 203 first-time winners in the series:
|Cup First-Time Winners (2014-2022)||Track||Date|
|Tyler Reddick||Elkhart Lake||Sunday, July 3, 2022|
|Daniel Suárez||Sonoma||Sunday, June 12, 2022|
|Ross Chastain||Austin||Sunday, March 27, 2022|
|Chase Briscoe||Phoenix||Sunday, March 13, 2022|
|Austin Cindric||Daytona||Sunday, February 20, 2022|
|Bubba Wallace||Talladega||Monday, October 4, 2021|
|Christopher Bell||Daytona RC||Sunday, February 21, 2021|
|Michael McDowell||Daytona||Sunday, February 14, 2021|
|William Byron||Daytona||Sunday, August 29, 2021|
|Cole Custer||Kentucky||Sunday, July 12, 2020|
|Justin Haley||Daytona||Sunday, July 7, 2019|
|Alex Bowman||Chicago||Sunday, June 30, 2019|
|Chase Elliott||Watkins Glen||Sunday, August 5, 2018|
|Erik Jones||Daytona||Saturday, July 7, 2018|
|Ryan Blaney||Pocono||Sunday, June 11, 2017|
|Austin Dillon||Charlotte||Sunday, May 28, 2017|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||Talladega||Sunday, May 7, 2017|
|Kyle Larson||Michigan||Sunday, August 28, 2016|
|Chris Buescher||Pocono||Monday, August 1, 2016|
|AJ Allmendinger||Watkins Glen||Sunday, August 10, 2014|
|Aric Almirola||Daytona||Sunday, July 6, 2014|
Since the inception of the NASCAR Cup Series in 1949, the 1950 season holds the record for the most first-time winners in a single season with 12 followed by the 1956 season with 10 different winners.
The all-time most different winners in an entire NASCAR Cup Series season are 19 different race winners in a single season and it has happened four times – 1956 (56 race season), 1958 (51 race season), 1961 (52 race season) and 2001 (Modern Era: 36 race season).
NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
Atlanta Motor Speedway has lots planned for the fans this weekend – Atlanta Motor Speedway and Fr8Auctions have teamed up to bring a variety of music during the NASCAR weekend with the Revs & Riffs NASCAR Weekend Music Festival Presented by Fr8Auctions. The music festival runs in conjunction with the race weekend, featuring musical performances that kick off Friday night and continue throughout the weekend. From the Fan Zone to the campgrounds to the frontstretch stage, fans will enjoy performances spanning a variety of genres including pre-race concerts by Candlebox on Saturday and Flo Rida on Sunday.
Also, Atlanta Motor Speedway will provide an opportunity for fans to hit the track prior to NASCAR, fans can take their own vehicles onto Atlanta’s 28-degree banked turns and make the first laps of the race weekend under the lights on July 8 from 8-11 p.m. ET. With a donation to Speedway Children’s Charities Atlanta, participants will be able to drive three laps around the 1.54-mile speedway behind the Atlanta Motor Speedway pace car. Fans can register to participate online at https://www.speedwaycharities.org/atlanta/.
NASCAR Cup Series Featured Matchups: 2022 Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart at Atlanta Motor Speedway – Below is a close look at the featured matchups fans can bet on heading into this weekend’s event.
Fan Vote: Tyler Reddick vs. Austin Dillon
Tyler Reddick picked up his first NASCAR Cup series win last week at Road America, essentially locking him into the Playoffs. His teammate, Austin Dillon, had a flat tire in the late stages of the race, but pulled off to avoid a caution being thrown. With one RCR car locked into the Playoffs, will Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon work together at Atlanta this weekend to try and get two RCR cars into the Playoffs, or will Tyler Reddick try and rack up Playoff Points?
Brad Keselowski vs. Kevin Harvick
Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick are two household names you expect to be in the Playoffs every year. With both having no wins this season, Atlanta is the perfect opportunity for them to grab their first checkered flag and lock themselves into the Playoffs. Both boast >80+ driver ratings on superspeedways – which makes this the perfect opportunity for them to grab their first win of the 2022 season.
Ryan Blaney vs. Martin Truex Jr.
Although Ryan Blaney sits second in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series standings, he is without a win this season. The same could be said for Martin Truex Jr., who is seventh in the standings. With 13 race winners this year and eight races left, the need for both of these prolific drivers to lock themselves into the Playoffs with a win is paramount. Although one would think Blaney has a significant edge on superspeedways over Truex, their driver ratings at superspeedways are only three points apart. Blaney posts a 98 average, while Truex sits at 95, meaning that either one of these drivers has a great chance to push their great season into the Round of 16.
Michael McDowell vs. Bubba Wallace
Two drivers that scored their first career NASCAR Cup Series victories by winning races on superspeedways are Michael McDowell and Bubba Wallace. Although neither are in the top 20 of the current standings as we sit, both drivers have established themselves as superspeedway giants. Both of these drivers have performed above expectations this year, so expect both to be contending for the win when the white flag is waved on Sunday.