For a large chunk of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, it was all green all the time. Few cautions led to long runs that appeared—on the surface—mundane and boring (more on this later and why it wasn’t).
Despite that, the very end was a thrilling bout of calculus between tire wear.
In the end, NASCAR got to play with its new overtime rules and saw Jimmie Johnson win his 76th career race (tying Dale Earnhardt, the Elder), his fifth race at Atlanta, his second in a row at Atlanta and punch that coveted Chase ticket.
This was also the dawn of the new low-downforce aero-package era—a win for the drivers if not for the television audience.
“I loved the racing that we saw,” Jeff Gordon, a Fox NASCAR analyst, said during the broadcast. “To get it back in the drivers' hands and have to manage their tire wear and see them inside the car working the steering wheel [was exciting].”
Despite the caution flag waving a measly two times, there’s a lot to dissect from this race, so let’s get on with our bad selves.
Here’s this week’s victors and defeatists.