Race Weekend Central

Daniel Suarez Victorious After Epic Atlanta Finish

After four hours of chaos at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 3, Daniel Suarez picked up his second career NASCAR Cup Series win in an incredible three-wide finish with Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch. Officially, the margin of victory between the three was 0.007, with just 0.003 separating Suarez and Blaney.

“It was so damn close man, it was so damn close,” Suarez said. “It was good racing. What a job. We wrecked lap two, the guys did an amazing job fixing this car, man. I can’t thank everybody enough”.

The green flag flew at Atlanta just past 3 p.m. ET, and less that a minute later, the yellow was out for the first time thanks to a turn one lap two pileup. The wreck that officially included 16 cars started with a checkup in the outside lane that resulted in both Austin Dillon and Bubba Wallace simultaneously spinning. 

The cars that got the worst of the wreck were Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Noah Gragson, Josh Williams and Erik Jones, whose races were effectively over before they really began. 

 “I thought I left the ARCA series a long time ago, but apparently not,” Williams said. When asked where his next start with Kaulig Racing would be, he said “Hopefully it’s not at a track like this, hopefully it’s somewhere where talent means something.”

The yellow flag flew two more times before the conclusion of stage one, as Chris Buescher and Denny Hamlin both had solo spins down the front straightaway on laps 25 and 53. Polesitter Michael McDowell picked up the stage win, followed by Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch making up the top five. 

Martin Truex Jr., Stenhouse, Wallace, William Byron and Todd Gilliland rounded out the top 10 who earned stage points in stage one. 

Stage two produced action from start to finish, with two- and three-wide racing early on after pit strategy jumbled up the field. Despite the chaos, the field kept it straight which led to green flag pit stops and more drama. 

Stage one winner McDowell and Byron tangled on the entrance to pit road after McDowell locked up the rear tires, sending both cars spinning into the inside wall. Both cars got back going, and the yellow flag never flew. Busch, Wallace, Chastain, Josh Berry and Stenhouse all sped on pit road during green flag stops, knocking all off of the lead lap. 

See also
Are Manufacturer Lines Forming Around Atlanta Motor Speedway?

On the white flag lap of stage two, third place Logano drifted up into Chris Buescher exiting turn two, also collecting Hamlin in the process, although Hamlin escaped with minimal damage. The yellow officially ended the stage, and Austin Cindric earned the stage win. 

Larson, Blaney, Daniel Suarez and Truex made up the rest of the top five, while Todd Gilliland, Brad Keselowski, Harrison Burton, Chase Briscoe and Elliott rounded out the top 10. 

As stage three began, the high intensity remained the same. Side-by-side battles constantly throughout the pack, and Larson, Truex and Gilliland swapping the lead back and forth for laps on end. After a lap 205 restart, the leaders went an unprecedented four wide for the lead, before another incident collected Keselowski, Larson and LaJoie. 

“I don’t know, my car just took off in the middle of the corner, I don’t know if it dumped or I lost a rear tire,” Keselowski said regarding the incident. “Super intense racing, the track cooled off, and now you can push really really hard.”

Another wreck led to heavy damage for Briscoe and Hamlin, as another attempt at four wide led to a heavy crash into turn three, and the ninth yellow of the day. 

“I think we were three or four wide and it felt like somebody hit me in the left rear getting into three,” Briscoe said. “But I could’ve just got loose from the air, I’m not really sure.”

In the end, it was a five-lap dash to the end, and Suarez was the first to the flag, by inches.

The win marks Suarez’s first since Sonoma Raceway in June of 2022, and keeps Chevrolet’s undefeated streak across the three national series in 2024 alive. Austin Cindric and Wallace rounded out the top five. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chastain, McDowell, Buescher and Ty Gibbs made up the rest of the top 10. 

Cup Results from Atlanta

The Cup Series is back in action once again this Sunday, March 3, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Penzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube. Catch all the action live on Fox, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 3:00 p.m. ET

About the author

Chase began working with Frontstretch in the spring of 2023 as a news writer, while also helping fill in for other columns as needed. Chase is now the main writer and reporter for Frontstretch.com's CARS Tour coverage, a role which began late in 2023.  Aside from racing, some of Chase's other hobbies include time in the outdoors hunting and fishing, and keeping up with all things Philadelphia sports related.

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Drew

That race was dramatic right at the end with a 3 wide photo finish and this reminds me of Disney and Pixar cars 1 when strip weathers, chick hicks and lightning McQueen had a photo finish in a three way tie in the dinoco 400.

kb

I have to say Logano needs this season two races are help, he had wicked fast cars two weeks in a row, a pole and p2. He led a ton of laps got taken out.

…The help I suggest is a stake, a vial of holy water, a cross, and a large necklace of garlic to wear at each track to end of the 2024 season.

And out of the 3 who were neck and neck, I cannot stand Blaney or Busch, always liked Saurez…CONGRATULATIONS

Last edited 1 month ago by kb
DoninAjax

The 8, 23 and 11 got free passes.

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