Race Report — Atlanta: Byron Wins Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500
HAMPTON, GA, March 20, 2022— The all-new configuration with superspeedway 28-degree banking and fresh pavement made for a wild race Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. William Byron drove the Hendrick Motorsports Liberty University No. 24 to the lead and held P1 for the final 10 laps, becoming the fifth different winner of the five Cup races so far in 2022. The race had 46 lead changes, with 20 different drivers leading over the 500 miles. A record number of caution flags resulted in no cycles of green flag pit stops for the 37 car field. But in the end, at the checkered flag Byron crossed the finish line .109 seconds ahead of Christopher Bell and .145 seconds ahead of Ross Chastain. However, Bell was penalized for passing below the white line (same as the double yellow line denoting the racing surface at Daytona) on the backstretch during the final lap and was relegated to 23rd, the last position on the lead lap for advancing his position “off the racing service.” Bell’s penalty moved Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain to his second straight runner-up finish, and Kurt Busch up to 3rd in the No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota. The 99 car of Daniel Suarez, also of Trackhouse Racing, was 4th and the Sprire Motorsports No. 7 of Corey Lajoie was 5th- Lajoie’s best ever finish in the NASCAR Cup Series. Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Alex Bowman fill the rest of the top 10.
“It was so different,” said Byron after the race, celebrating his third NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season, and his first at Atlanta, “Honestly, the last few laps there and trying to manage the gap to Bubba and trying to not get too far out front. You know, my spotter Brandon (Lines), its his first win, so congrats to him. Thanks to this whole team. They’ve done a great job this year.”
24 Crew Puts in Late Night After going 27th in Practice
“Lots of changes with the Next Gen car. The (No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports) Chevrolet was awesome out there. After a pretty rough practice, Rudy and the team worked hard on it and got it handling well, like I told you. It was kind of an intermediate style with a little bit of speedway into it, so a lot of fun” Byron said. According to team owner Rick Hendrick, Rudy Fugle and the crew went to work immediately following Saturday’s practice session where the 24 car could only get to 27th on the speed chart.
Another Tough Day for Toyota
History was not on Toyota’s side. According to NASCAR’s “Fast Facts” on Atlanta, the last nine races at Atlanta Motor Speedway were won by Chevrolet or Ford. Toyota has yet to put a car in Victory Lane so far in 2022. Ford won The Clash at the Coliseum, The Duals at Daytona, the Daytona 500, and Phoenix. Chevy won Fontana, Las Vegas, and Atlanta. A ray of hope for Toyota was delivered Sunday by veteran driver Kurt Busch who finished 3rd in the Moster Energy №45. Martin Truex Jr. was 8th, Bubba Wallace 13th, Christopher Bell 23rd (relegation), Denny Hamlin had another disappointing finish in 29th, and Kyle Busch in the №18 all the way back in 33rd. The early exit for Busch drops him from 2nd in Driver points down to 11th. Of even more concern for Toyota fans is that Denney Hamlin is in 26th and Bell dropped all the way to 30th.
Up Next: Road Course at COTA
EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix is race 6 on the NASCAR Cup Series calendar and sends the series to Austin, TX to race on the F1 track- Circuit of the Americas. Bob Francis, Managing Editor of Go Full Throttle Racing News will be reporting live from COTA this weekend. Check back this week for the updated #GFTaiDriverRankings and our predictions for COTA. Follow all the action on our website https://gofullthrottle.net/ and real-time updates on our Twitter feed