CONCORD, N.C. – For the second time in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, the sport's top series will compete with the superspeedway aero package. This weekend, the action will take place at the recently repaved and reconfigured 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Sunday’s race will be the first race since the season-opening DAYTONA 500 to take place on the East Coast. The organization swept both races at the Georgia circuit in 2022. In the first event since the reconfiguration, William Byron led 111 laps on his way to earning his first checkered flag of the year. July’s second race saw a similar outcome as Chase Elliott paced the field for 96 circuits to win for the first time in his home state.
As a team, Hendrick Motorsports has accounted for 16 wins at the historic track located in Hampton, Georgia. Team vice chairman Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson each earned five victories at Atlanta. Darrell Waltrip, Ken Schrader, Jerry Nadeau, Kasey Kahne, Byron and Elliott have all earned a single victory for the organization at Atlanta.
Byron enters "The Peach State" with quite a bit of momentum on his side. The 25-year-old driver has won the last two events, the first time he has ever won back-to-back races in his Cup Series career. If he won on Sunday, it would be the first time since 1998 that the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports entry would visit victory lane three races in a row. It would also to be the 100th victory for the iconic number in Cup Series history. In addition to his win last year at Atlanta, Byron also won on a drafting track at Daytona International Speedway in 2020.
On the other hand, Alex Bowman enters Atlanta on a hot streak of his own. After winning the pole for the DAYTONA 500, Bowman and the No. 48 Ally Racing team have finished inside the top 10 in each of the first four races. With a ninth-place result at Phoenix last weekend, this marks the fifth time in his career he has accomplished this feat. While he has yet to claim a superspeedway victory at the Cup Series level, the 29-year-old driver earned a top-five finish in the DAYTONA 500 last month.
Despite leading 201 laps at Phoenix Raceway, Larson ultimately had to settle for a fourth-place finish in the Arizona desert. That said, the last two races have seen strong showings for the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team. Larson has led 264 laps and finished inside the top five on both occasions. While he is looking for his first victory on a drafting track, the 2021 Cup Series champion was contending for victory at the DAYTONA 500 when an incident on the last lap prematurely ended his race. The Elk Grove, California, native will look to break through for his first victory of the season at Atlanta on Sunday.
Josh Berry will continue to drive the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevy, filling in for the sidelined Elliott. Berry has driven the car since Las Vegas following Elliott’s surgery for a fractured tibia suffered in a snowboarding accident. The timetable for Elliott’s return has been set at six weeks since he underwent the procedure on March 3. While Berry has yet to make a start in the Cup Series with the superspeedway-style of racing, the 32-year-old driver did score a runner-up finish last summer at Atlanta. Overall, he has two top-five results and three top-10s on drafting tracks in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with JR Motorsports. Berry enters this race coming off his first career top-10 finish at Phoenix.
New for 2023 at Atlanta will be the entrance to pit road. When pitting, drivers must maintain the set pit road speed limit while coming in for service. On all oval circuits that the Cup Series visits, the commitment line sits just before pit stalls begin, somewhere in-between the exit of turn four and the front straightaway. However, Cup Series officials announced that the commitment line will now sit before turn three. With the change, drivers must maintain pit road speed on the apron all the way through turns three and four.
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Here is what you need to know to catch this weekend’s action.
WHAT TIME IS QUALIFYING?
There will be no practice this weekend at Atlanta. Outside of the DAYTONA 500, practice will not be held at any of the tracks utilizing the drafting style of racing (Daytona, Talladega Superspeedway and Atlanta). Single-car qualifying will take place on Saturday, March 18, at 11:35 a.m. ET on FS1 with the top 10 drivers advancing to the final round to battle for the pole position.
WHAT TIME IS THE RACE?
The 400-mile Cup Series main event is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 19, and will be broadcast on FOX.
CAN I LISTEN ON THE RADIO?
The race will be on PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).
CAN I STREAM ONLINE?
WHAT CHANNEL IS FS1 AND FS2?
It varies by location, but this link allows viewers to find the channels by entering their zip code and selecting their television provider.
FIVE FAST FACTS HEADING INTO ATLANTA
Data provided by Racing Insights
3: Wins on drafting tracks since the start of the 2022 season by Hendrick Motorsports. The team leads the Cup Series in this category.
6.25: Bowman's series-leading average finish in 2023, which leads all drivers.
29: Berry is the 29th driver to earn a top-10 finish for Hendrick Motorsports. This result came in his second start with the team at Phoenix.
270: Laps led by Larson through the first four races of ’23. This is tied for the fourth-most by any Hendrick Motorsports driver through the opening four races of the season. It is also the most in the Cup Series this season.
654: Laps run inside the top five for Byron this season. The 25-year-old driver leads the Cup Series in this category.