On The Gas, On The Brakes From Atlanta

(Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

It was “shock and awe” that wrapped up the Daytona 500 and Speedweeks with Austin Dillon’s win. Now, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series kicked off what most call the official start of the regular season.

Atlanta Motor Speedway gave drivers a challenge that most were looking forward to. The old surface eats up tires and puts 100 percent of the the control in to the drivers’ hands. The discussion to repave was last year and 36 cars took the green flag late Sunday afternoon in hopes of bringing home the checkered flag in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

This race looked like Mother Nature was going to be the only one playing. However, clearing in the late afternoon gave us the chance to get all 500.5 miles in.

Who made the best of it and who left Atlanta looking for the reset button?

This year, we’ll go with a podium of good and bad with a top three and bottom three.

On The Gas…

3: The Veterans:  At the end of the Daytona 500, the average age of the top-five was 28. In Atlanta, the average age of the top-five finishers was 38. It was going to take finesse to conquer that tough old girl, and the ones that have done it before, showed the young guns how Atlanta was to be handled. Next year, it may be a different story.

2: Clint Bowyer: Isn’t the sport a little better when Clint Bowyer is successful? Bowyer proved Sunday that he’s not just a good quote; he can still drive a race car. Bowyer used his “aged” ability to secure his first top-five on the well aged Atlanta Motor Speedway. Certainly, it is a big boost for the Stewart-Haas Racing driver moving forward to the West Coast Swing.

1: Kevin Harvick: Like one week earlier, the headlines nearly wrote themselves. Harvick, who has been a master at Atlanta since the first time stepping on to the property 17 years ago, took his freaky fast Ford and dominated the race.  Leading 188 laps, coming back from a pit road issue, and convincingly taking the victory Sunday, it was vintage Harvick.  Like all of those years ago, he celebrated with a lap around the track holding three fingers towards the grandstands.

Like a high quality pig roast, it was a good weekend to be “well seasoned.”

If the veterans enjoyed Atlanta, who is looking forward to a repave and a fresh start?

On The Brakes…

3: Ryan Newman: After the joys that Richard Childress Racing experienced last week and a front row starting spot for Newman, things were looking up at Atlanta.  However, a lap 80 meeting with the outside retaining wall took Newman and his RCR Camaro out of contention and looking for some luck in Vegas.

2: Pit Guns/NASCAR: If there is one thing that is now under a microscope leaving Atlanta, it’s the new pit guns. Multiple issues on pit road yesterday cost many drivers, including the eventual winner Kevin Harvick, who was able to overcome their pit stop issue. Martin Truex Jr was another casualty and his crew chief Cole Pearn was less than thrilled, saying, “They were a hunk of garbage.” NASCAR plans to look into the guns this week. Each team is given three random pit guns at the start of the weekend.

1: Jimmie Johnson: With three wrecked cars at Daytona, Johnson came to Atlanta, struggled with inspection, and had a tire issue that took him out of the race. You’d almost begin to think he’s not a fan of Camaro. No matter the case, the No. 48 needs to secure a new horseshoe.

Bad luck may be the name of the game for some of these teams, but in Las Vegas, you just keep rolling.

Next up: NASCAR Goes West.

Stephen Conley

If it races, I'll write about it, talk about it or shoot it with a camera.

I began pursuing a career in motorsports journalism immediately after attending college at Kent State University. I have hosted multiple Motorsports talk shows, worked in Country Music radio, and now i spend every day on the air in the morning with 1300 and 100.9 WMVO and in the afternoons watching the roadways around Central Ohio for 93.7 WQIO.

The excitement and the fans make everything I put out there worth while, it's been an exciting 15 years having covered everything from the Daytona 500 to the Rolex 24 and you can find me at pretty much any event run at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

What I like to bring is a look behind the scenes, a look at what and who makes the sport grow. From the guy that welds pieces back at the shop to the host in the tv booth.

Everyone has a story and I like to tell it. My main focus here at TPF is looking at the men and women behind the microphone and cameras.

My life long goal is to become a member of MRN or PRN Radio and bring the races to you. I hope that what I share now is enjoyable and gives you a unique look in to the world of motorsports.

See you at a track soon

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