As the first race of the season to feature NASCAR’s new, downforce-focused aerodynamic design and lower horsepower engines, the Fields of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Feb. 24 looked a little different than the races of past years.
After a planned competition caution due to rain on lap 35, the race featured 187 laps of flawless racing, 25 lead changes, two stage winners and a split-second finish as Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford edged out Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 19 Toyota for the checkered flag.
Dawsonville driver Chase Elliott started the day from the 22 position after qualifying .511 seconds behind pole driver Alric Almirola and found himself locked in the middle of the pack for most of the day as he went on to finish the race without incident in 19th.
Kyle Larson dominated the field as he surged into the lead early behind the wheel of his No. 42 Chevy and led the race for a remarkable 142 laps before a critical pit row speeding penalty dropped him to the rear of the field and a disappointing 12th-place finish.
Keselowski’s run started on lap 283 after a pit row accident involving Ryan Preece and B.J. McLeod forced a late restart and he was able to break free of traffic to hold onto the lead for the final 32 laps to secure his second victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway in three years.
NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series circuit continues with the Penzoil 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 3.