NASCAR takeaways: Atlanta produces wild race, historic finish

Daniel Suarez triumphed in one of the wildest races in recent NASCAR history, with a historic finish at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.


Suarez wins in historic finish

Daniel Suarez emerged as the winner in one of the wildest races in recent NASCAR history at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Suarez won by 0.003 seconds, making it the third-closest victory since NASCAR began using electronic timing, beating Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch in a thrilling finish. The race featured 48 lead changes and six multicar wrecks, making it an unforgettable event.

Suarez's victory ended his 57-race winless streak and marked his second Cup victory. What made this win even more special was that it was his first victory on an oval, as his previous win came in 2022 at Sonoma. Suarez is the only Mexican-born driver to win in the Cup Series, adding another historic milestone to his career.

Drafting strategy plays a crucial role

With the reconfiguration of the Atlanta Motor Speedway, drivers relied heavily on drafting strategies, similar to Daytona and Talladega. The increased banking and narrower surface meant that drivers needed to stick together in packs and utilize the aerodynamic draft to make passes. This resulted in the intense and chaotic nature of the race, where Suarez, Blaney, and Busch went three-wide in the final moments.

NASCAR had to review the video of the finish before declaring Suarez the winner, as the electronic timing had already indicated his win. Suarez's positioning on the outside lane and his ability to use the side draft ultimately gave him the edge over his competitors. The finish was so close that it required careful analysis to determine the winner, adding to the excitement of the race.

Close finishes and unfortunate wrecks

Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch, who finished just behind Suarez, both accepted the close defeat philosophically. Blaney, the 2022 Cup champion, acknowledged that he had also won races by a very small margin before and couldn't complain too much about losing one by such a slim margin. Busch recognized Suarez's strategic advantage and how difficult it was to stop his momentum.

The race also witnessed several wrecks that ended the days of notable contenders. Joey Logano's attempt to block Chris Buescher led to a collision and ended his race. Denny Hamlin, who experienced a series of accidents throughout the race, humorously referred to it as hitting the "trifecta." Other drivers, such as Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson, also suffered from wrecks that ended their day.