Trackhouse May Regain Momentum in Atlanta – NASCAR Talk

Today’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway is a chance for Trackhouse Racing to regain the momentum it lost last week.

Daniel Suarez entered Phoenix with three top-10 finishes, including one top-five finish. He received multiple speeding tickets in Phoenix: He was speeding on pit road. He then had to do a passing lap and accelerate that (he cited an error with the team’s pit road calculation). Although Suarez was able to return to the lead lap, he finished 22nd.

Ross Chastain had two top 10s and a 12th – and led the standings. Chastain was running sixth approaching the final restart, but ended up in the wrong spot, which was somewhere near Denny Hamlin. Chastain finished 24th.

In addition to regaining Trackhouse’s momentum, the win could also slow Hendrick Motorsports’ blowout.

And a Trackhouse win would make it five out of five for Chevy.

My last post highlighted underdogs with potential for a strong finish in Atlanta. In the overall 2022 Superspeedway standings, Chastain is ranked sixth and Suarez ninth.

But superhighways are not created equal.

Atlanta features the same type of backpacking races as Daytona and Talladega, but Atlanta is a full mile shorter. Everything happens faster. Drivers don’t have time to think and plan as long as it allows them to.

In addition to demanding more from the driver, a car that works on the bigger tracks might not handle Atlanta well enough. Balance is much more important this weekend.

These differences play an important role in Trackhouse’s strengths.

The graph below shows the average results of drivers in Atlanta in yellow and in Talladega and Daytona in blue. The chart only covers 2022 because that’s all the data we have for the next-generation car. I only included drivers with a 15.5 or better average in Atlanta.

Chastain and Suarez averaged around 20 at Daytona and Talladega. When it comes to Atlanta, however, Chastain and Suarez are first and second with average scores of 2.0 and 5.0.

Chastain finished second in the spring and summer races at the revamped track. These finishes are despite being involved in two crashes in each race. Suarez finished fourth in the first race and sixth in the second.

Trackhouse offers fast cars in Atlanta. Chastain placed second in the second race and seventh in the first. Suarez finished 13th in the first race and seventh in the second.

But speed isn’t the only factor. Despite being involved in accidents, both drivers finished both races. They also gained (or did not lose) positions in the last 10% of each race.

The competition

Chastain and Suarez aren’t the only drivers looking to regain momentum in Atlanta.

It’s hard to quantify how much of a threat Kyle Busch is because he changed teams this year. He averaged 26.5 last year in Atlanta with Joe Gibbs Racing, but had a stellar performance at this year’s Daytona 500.

If you’re wondering about Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., he has an average finish of 31.0 in Atlanta, with DNFs in both races.

Trackhouse Atlanta’s biggest race comes from Hendrick Motorsports. Trackhouse consistently placed right behind HMS last year in Atlanta.

  • William Byron, who enters Atlanta with two straight wins, won the first race at Atlanta in 2022.
  • Chase Elliott won the second.
  • Chastain led the second-most laps in the opening race at Atlanta. Byron led the most.
  • Chastain led the third most laps in the second race at Atlanta. Elliott released the most, followed by Byron.
  • Suarez’s 46 points in the spring race are tied (with Ryan Blaney) for the third-most points scored in any race at Atlanta in 2022.
    • Chase Elliott holds the top spot with a perfect race of 60 points.
    • William Byron is second with 52 points.

But 2023 presents new circumstances. At this time last year, neither Chastain nor Suarez had won a Cup Series race.

Elliott will not be competing in Atlanta this year due to a fractured left leg. His replacement, Josh Berry, earned his first top 10 last week. But Berry has only had two races in the Next Gen car. No one is super fast. He finished 33rd and second in the Xfinity Series last year in Atlanta.

Alex Bowman comes to Atlanta with a 21.0 track average, while Kyle Larson has a 21.5 average. Their 2022 Talladega/Daytona averages are 15.7 and 22.75, respectively.

With Elliott out, Byron is the highest-ranked HMS driver in terms of average finish at Atlanta with 15.5. In addition to the spring win, a crash relegated him to 30th in the summer race.

But Louvergate puts HMS drivers at a further disadvantage. Their crew chiefs are serving four-week suspensions, although HMS is appealing the punishments. Hendrick has a deep bench, but any layoff creates an opportunity for hiccups.

This year, Trackhouse has one big advantage over Byron in this race: no driver wants Byron to win. It’s better for everyone if no driver accumulates too many points, stage points or playoff points. Chase Elliott proved that last year.

But winning in Atlanta requires the Trackhouse drivers to deal with the problems that have plagued them in previous seasons.

Suarez has a history of speeding penalties and a knack for taking them too late in the race to recover. Getting a pass penalty at Atlanta probably means losing a few laps if the driver has to do it in green conditions.

Chastain’s aggressive driving made her enemies. Chastain lost 18 positions after the dispute with Hamlin last week. But even a driver who chooses not to work with Chastain can quickly send him back.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *