Jimmie Johnson Makes History Winning the Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500

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After a close finish at Daytona, the drivers of the Sprint Cup Series looked to continue that momentum into Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend. The old surface at the 1.5-mile oval would prove challenging, adding to the challenges of a new aero package.

NASCAR instituted a new aero package, first tested last year in a handful of races, now the new standard at all non-restrictor plate races. The low-downforce rules set out to create tighter racing and more passing, and that was on full display on Sunday.

Qualifying for the Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 put Kyle Busch (#18 M&M’s Toyota) on pole. However, his time was disallowed after a technical violation. This would put his brother, Kurt Busch (#41 Monster Energy Chevy) on top.

As the race got underway, one’s success on the track was dictated by how you managed your tires. Early on, Kurt Busch would be in control, while drivers like Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin (#11 FedEx Toyota) charged through the field. Others in the top ten would challenge Busch at the front, including Kevin Harvick (#4 Jimmy John’s Chevy) and Martin Truex Jr. (#78 Furniture Row Toyota).

Cautions were few and far between during the race at Atlanta. Only one caution flew in the first 320 plus laps, and that was for debris. This would mean lots of green flag pit stops, and mistakes during these would be amplified. For Matt Kenseth (#20 Dollar General Toyota), it would ruin his day after a fueling violation and his team ignoring the black flag would cost him two laps.

Towards the end of the race, strategy would come into play. Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe’s Chevy), who had been in the top five for most of the day, short pitted, allowing him to build a large lead. Kevin Harvick, after leading the most laps, fought hard to catch up. But a caution with two laps to go would set up a last lap dash.

On the restart, Harvick did not get a strong start, fading to a seventh place finish. Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson held off Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88 Nationwide Chevy) at the front before a wreck at the back of the field ended the race. Jimmie Johnson would win the Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 at Atlanta.

This would be Johnson’s fifth win at Atlanta, and 76th win in Cup, tying Dale Earnhardt on the all-time list. Johnson also now holds the record for the most wins on 1.5-mile tracks. Dale Earnhardt Jr. would come home second, and Kyle Busch, the points leader, in third.

Next week, the top drivers in stock cars will be saying “Viva, Las Vegas” as the teams race in the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Coverage can be seen next Sunday afternoon on your local FOX station.

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