Three-wide racing, a brand-new champion and a controversial finish. For better or worse, the Daytona 500 had a little bit of everything.
One week after Joey Logano captured the NASCAR world's attention with his gutsy triumph, the Sprint Cup Series is ready to move on.
Heading into Atlanta, Logano is the only driver with his berth virtually secured in the Chase. With every driver eyeing a spot in NASCAR's postseason, Atlanta will be a huge race for some of the sport's notable teams.
Here's a look at the full race information and a race preview for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
Where: Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, Georgia
When: Sunday, March 1
Start Time: 1 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Radio: Performance Racing Network
For the second straight week, Regan Smith will be behind the wheel for Stewart-Haas Racing. He took over for Kurt Busch, who was indefinitely suspended, for the Daytona 500 and was tabbed again for Atlanta.
Joining Smith on the track will be David Ragan, who is taking the reins for Kyle Busch. After Busch broke his leg during an Xfinity race, Matt Crafton replaced him for the Great American Race. Ragan raced in the 500 with Front Row Motorsports but couldn't turn down an opportunity to work with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Given the opportunity to step up for the JGR, Ragan isn't taking the situation lightly, via Bob Pockrass of ESPN.com:
It may be a situation where you get a win and you can get into the Chase, but let's not count our chickens before they hatch. That's a great scenario that if it would play out would be a lot of fun and something cool to talk about. ... I'm just taking it race by race.
I'm sure over the next few weeks, we'll get a better feel for kind of the time frame on Kyle's return and what the expectations are for the second half of the year.
Yeah, talking about winning races is kind of a big deal, Ragan. Then again, he has won two races during his career, but neither came at intermediate tracks. Maybe with some new equipment, he can get the job done in place of Busch.
Smith and Ragan will certainly be drivers worth watching in Atlanta, but there is one driver in the top 10 in points with his eye on winning a second straight race at the track.
Kasey Kahne has enjoyed plenty of success as a driver, but his win last year in Atlanta was potentially his biggest triumph. It not only gave him his first victory of the year but also gave him a late berth into the Chase.
With the race much earlier this year, he has aspirations of doing the same. Ryan McGee of ESPN The Magazine has him at No. 6 in his power rankings following Daytona.
"His teammates won qualifying and led the most laps, but Blue Eyes quietly finished ninth in the 500," McGee wrote. "Now it's on to tracks where new rules come into play. Crew chief Keith Rodden will be licking his chops."
In order to capture another checkered flag, Kahne will have to hold off a contingent of strong drivers also looking to put their stamp on the season. Needless to say, Sunday should be another thrilling event—hopefully with a slightly better ending.
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