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March 17, 2023

What to Watch: 2023 Atlanta-1

Chase Elliott does a burnout on the fronstretch as fans cheer.
Jared C. Tilton
Getty Images

Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway
(⏰ 3 p.m. ET | 📺 FOX, FOX Sports App | 📻 PRN, SiriusXM)

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta, the fifth race of the 2023 Cup Series campaign.

Weekend schedule | TV schedule | Weather tracker | Atlanta 101

📍 Location: Hampton, Georgia
📐 Track length: 1.54-miles
🎟️ Buy tickets: Three races this weekend
💰 Race purse: $8,725,965
📏 Race distance: 260 laps | 400 miles
🔢 Stages: 60 | 160 | 260

🚗 Pit stall assignments: Where drivers will pit on Sunday

📋 Starting lineup: Where drivers will start on Sunday

🏆 Most recent winner: Chase Elliott, July 2022

Key things to watch 🔑

Top story line

Can William Byron complete the trifecta? Byron won the last two races – Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway – in impressive, last-gasp fashion over teammate Kyle Larson. Sunday, he aims to join the elite list of drivers with three consecutive victories in NASCAR history. And go figure, he was the car to beat here in the 2022 March race and ended up in Victory Lane, so he should be among the favorites to get the job done again. Byron will try to keep his momentum after a penalty was issued to each of Hendrick Motorsports’ four race teams on Tuesday, setting them back in the current drivers’ and owners’ points standings.

🚨: Hendrick Motorsports, Kaulig Racing issued L2-level penalty after Phoenix | Denny Hamlin also penalized

History tells us…

At least 25% of the field will lead a lap on Sunday. Last year’s inaugural race on the repaved and reconfigured asphalt was historic, featuring a record 20 lead changes and close-quarters racing throughout. Five of those drivers, including eventual race winner William Byron who led a race-high 111 laps, led over 20 laps – and 12 different drivers went on to lead a lap in the July race. Though a small sample size, the ‘new’ Atlanta has already proven to be a high-paced, back-and-forth race track that caters to multiple drivers battling for the lead when it’s time to decide a winner.

He may not be the betting favorite to win, but watch out for…

Daniel Suárez. Suárez finished fourth in this race last March and it wasn’t a fluke, evidenced by his strong sixth-place result in the scorching July race. His confidence from last season’s success at the reconfigured Georgia track should carry over well, coupled with his hot start to 2023. Before last week at Phoenix Raceway, Suárez and Alex Bowman were the only drivers with a top-10 finish in every race this season – but the No. 99 pilot’s streak was snapped in the desert. Still, in search of the elusive first win of the new campaign, expect Suárez to be a contender Sunday.

Practice and qualifying

Fords are the fastest.
Blue ovals locked out the top eight spots in the starting lineup for Sunday’s Cup race. Joey Logano earned his second pole of the 2023 season with Team Penske teammate Austin Cindric joining him on the front row. Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick, Chris Buescher and Chase Briscoe make up the rest of the first four rows. | For more info, read the full qualifying recap

Familiar favorites ⭐️

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.

– Paint Scheme Preview: Hot schemes for Sunday’s showdown in Georgia | Pick a favorite
– Power Rankings: RFK Racing off to a hot start in 2023 | Latest driver rankings
– Fantasy Fastlane: Banking on RFK Racing in Atlanta | Best plays, lineup advice
– Betting odds: See which driver is the favorite for Sunday’s race | Top bets, underdog picks
– Stacking Pennies:
William Byron joins the show | Listen to the podcast

💎 NASCAR 75: Check out exclusive NASCAR content throughout the anniversary season | Learn more, explore

Hot off the press 📰

Key stories and breaking news from the week leading up to the race.

– Hendrick Motorsports, Kaulig Racing: L2-level penalty issued Tuesday | Read more
– Kyle Busch:
Drivers have ‘lost respect’ in garage area | Read more
– Brad Keselowski:
Reflects on 2022 penalty: ‘One of the best things to ever happen to us’ | Read more
– Denny Hamlin:
Penalized, fined for intentional contact with Ross Chastain | Read more
– Elton Sawyer:
Modifications ‘obvious’ on Hendrick, Kaulig cars | Listen here
– Advance to Victory Lane:
Predicting Sunday’s race winner, results | Read more
– Jimmie Johnson:
Seven-time champion set to race at COTA, Coca-Cola 600 | Read more
– Denny Hamlin on contact with Ross Chastain:
‘It wasn’t a mistake’ |Read more
– Doubleheader:
Xfinity Series, Truck Series set to race Saturday | Read more
– Hailie Deegan:
Driver partners with AdventHealth to celebrate Women’s History Month | Read more
– 23XI:
Team, Dr Pepper announce third cycle of tuition program | Read more
– NASCAR Brasil:
New Sprint Race season begins this Sunday |Read more

Get in on the action 💰

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy and Fan Rewards.

– Fan Rewards: New in 2023, get rewarded for your participation | Learn more
– Fantasy Live: Still time to get on the leaderboard and win big this season | Tips for 2023
– NASCAR BetCenter: Don’t miss your chance to make picks each week | Visit the BetCenter
– Going the distance:
2023 Cup Series championship odds | See them here
– The Action Network: Can’t-miss Atlanta prop bet for Sunday | Read more

Georgia on my mind 🍑

It’s Year 2 of the repave and reconfiguration at Atlanta, but this track still has a lot of incredible history.

– Winner, winner: All-time winners at Atlanta | See who has the most
– Do you remember?:
Memorable moments at Atlanta | Relive them here
– Photo Memories:
Harvick gets unexpected first Cup Series win | Watch the video
– Greatest Race Ever:
Making the case for the 1992 Hooters 500 | Relive the past here
– Pace out front:
Top 10 lap leaders in Atlanta history | See them here
– Race Rewind:
Late charge sets up Elliott’s big win at Atlanta | Best moments, highlights
Steven Wilson wins on iRacing at Atlanta | Watch the final laps

Take some notes 📝

Five hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.

This season will be the first time there will not be a scheduled 500-mile race at Atlanta.
Chevrolet drivers have won the last six races on drafting tracks.
Kyle Larson will make his 300th series start on Sunday, and only seven drivers have won on their 300th start.
The driver that led the most laps in each race this season failed to win three out of the four races.
In the 2022 March race, 20 different drivers led a lap, the most ever at Atlanta.

🔮 Predicting the winner: Using data to set a projected finishing order