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February 22, 2024

Racing Insights: Sticking with Blaney —  but a Byron back-to-back also in play

A wreck and a 30th-place finish in the Daytona 500 isn’t scaring Racing Insights away from Ryan Blaney this week. With Atlanta Motor Speedway’s new configuration racing like a superspeedway, many of the same principles still hold true that were in play earlier this week when Blaney was a favorite to win at Daytona International Speedway.

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If only the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion can avoid the chaos this time in Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), then he should be in strong contention for the win. After all, Blaney has led laps in the last eight drafting races, giving him the longest active streak in that stat category.

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However, William Byron, the Daytona 500 champ, could also vie for the win. In the four races on Atlanta’s new configuration, Byron has won twice, meaning he could be the first driver to win back-to-back races to start the season since Matt Kenseth did it in 2009.


JOEY LOGANO: In last year’s race, Logano won the pole and led 140 laps en route to the victory. Also, his 296 laps led on drafting tracks since 2022 are tops among drivers.

BRAD KESELOWSKI: This seven-time winner on drafting tracks tied Logano for most points earned at Atlanta last year. Keselowski also is one of three drivers who finished in the top 10 in both Atlanta races in 2023.

CHASE ELLIOTT: He won on the new configuration in Atlanta back in the late summer of 2022. Elliott also owns the best average finish in drafting races at Atlanta at 6.7.

ROSS CHASTAIN: He is among five drivers who have compiled two top-five finishes at Atlanta since the reconfiguration — with both of Chastain’s being runner-ups.

COREY LAJOIE: Two of his four career top-five finishes have come at Atlanta. Plus, LaJoie is coming off a fourth-place finish in Monday’s Daytona 500.

Projections as of Thursday, Feb. 22.


Racing Insights’ advanced statistical formula includes current track, current track type, recent performance, team data and pit-crew data to arrive at a projected winner and full race results.

FinishCar NumberDriver
112Ryan Blaney
224William Byron
320Christopher Bell
49Chase Elliott
511Denny Hamlin
622Joey Logano
71Ross Chastain
823Bubba Wallace
96Brad Keselowski
1017Chris Buescher
118Kyle Busch
1219Martin Truex Jr.
135Kyle Larson
1443Erik Jones
1545Tyler Reddick
1648Alex Bowman
172Austin Cindric
1899Daniel Suárez
1914Chase Briscoe
207Corey LaJoie
2151Justin Haley
2238Todd Gilliland
2354Ty Gibbs
2447Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2541Ryan Preece
2634Michael McDowell
2710Noah Gragson
2842John H. Nemechek
294Josh Berry
303Austin Dillon
3121Harrison Burton
3231Daniel Hemric
3378BJ McLeod
3471Zane Smith
3577Carson Hocevar
3616Josh Williams
3715Kaz Grala