Atlanta Is Up Next For The Cup Teams

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Well… There’s one thing that can still be said about the Atlanta Motor Speedway and that’s that it is fast. Of course, it is a little treacherous for the drivers with it being run like Daytona and Talladega. With just 550 horsepower and the teams facing the new configuration for the second year, that means it will be like the Super Speedway races with all that goes along with them. That means another time of flat-out door to door, bumper to bumper drafting and close racing. It also means it will likely be hard to pass and track position will be one of the most important things if one of them wants to win.

From this fan’s view, qualifying made it look like the Fords have shown up ready and raring to go to change the dominance the Chevys have shown so far this season. Admittedly, the Fords looked strong at Daytona but they didn’t finish the deal and the Chevys did. Except for last weekend at Phoenix when it looked like Kevin Harvick was going to take the win, the Chevys have pretty much dominated the show.

Now, you and I both know that qualifying often doesn’t mean all that much when it comes to race day other than getting a good choice for a pit stall. So, it remains to be seen if the Fords can show the same strength this afternoon when it comes to the actual race or if the Chevys, and maybe the Toyotas, will fare better than their qualifying did. If the Fords continue in the race as they did in qualifying, well, this just might be a dominate day for them.

Everyone is talking about the penalties handed down to the Hendrick Chevys this week and, on the surface, it could be a game changer for their recent dominance. I mean, after all, they have been the ones to beat every weekend so far. Even though some say this weekend will be a reality check, I’m not so sure. Just look at their performance last weekend when their louvers were confiscated by NASCAR and they had to use some from another Chevy team. From my view – and a lot of others – they were still the dominate cars with Kyle Larson and William Byron leading most of the laps and Byron winning two in a row even after the louver deal.

Yeah, I know Kevin Harvick in his Ford would likely have won last weekend had it not been for the late-race caution but Kyle Larson would probably have won the week before if there hadn’t also been a late-race caution.

So, what will be the story this weekend with all of the penalties handed down to the Hendrick teams and the loss of crew chiefs and loss of points and money to fines? Will they bounce back and dominate as they have in the first races or will they suffer defeat and drop like rocks in the race today?

Well, I’m not sure but one thing I know. Even though the Fords absolutely dominated qualifying and eight of them are starting in the first four rows, Kyle Larson is starting ninth and William Byron is starting eleventh. It doesn’t sound so impossible that those two could end up in front when the final checkered flag drop on today’s race. No, I’m not saying they will and I’m not saying they won’t but I am saying they very well could. I guess it could come down to whether or not the loss of their crew chiefs affects them in a big way or at all.

When it comes down to it, I admit the Fords do look like they might be hard to beat this weekend. After all, they did run strong at Daytona and this could possibly be the weekend they take it to the bank when the race is done which is what they didn’t do at Daytona.

There are at least eight fast Fords and it remains to be seen just how deep the talent is a Hendrick Motorsports and whether or not they can prove the louvers had very little to do with their performance over the last several weeks.

In this fan’s opinion, I expect this to be a showdown between the Fords and Chevys with maybe a chance for Christopher Bell in his Toyota to finish up front since he has been the front runner in the Toyota camps. I’ m still not convinced Danny Hamlin will make it to the end of the day and end up in Victory Lane even though it is a remote possibility. Of course, there is always the possibility Bubba Wallace could show up at the front also but, in all honesty, the Toyotas just haven’t shown the speed of the Fords and the Chevys so far.

The best I can say for today’s race is I guess we’ll just have to watch it to the end and see who dominates the day. Will it be a Ford, a Chevy or a Toyota? Yeah, I reckon it will…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 19, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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