2023 NASCAR Preview: Week 5 – Atlanta

A cold day in Hotlanta!

We saw a wildly different Atlanta race last year than anything we’ve seen before. It is no longer a “1.5-mile Intermediate,” but something else entirely. The track length remains the same, but the repave has transformed this track into something like a Daytona Jr. It runs fast, there will be cautions, and whoever wins was probably pretty fortunate all day. Chances are we finish this one with cars sideways, sliding across the finish line.

Here’s what to look for:

Joey Logano was quickest on Saturday, the first of eight straight Fords in the Top 10. Pretty incredible considering it has been decades since a Ford has sat on Pole here, let along the entire Top 8! Logano’s record at Atlanta is decent; he has a 13.0 average finish over the last ten races. That puts him 8th among active drivers with just one Top 5. Can he deliver the first non-Chevy Win of the year?

William Byron has been on a tear lately, taking the checkers in the last two races. Wouldn’t you know that he won this race last year, too? He (and his Hendrick teammates) will have a sort-of uphill battle today, penalized after Phoenix, each of them without their crew chiefs today or the next four races. Yikes. We’ve seen this happen before though, and drivers showing “you can take my crew chief, but you can’t take my victory!” We’ll see how Byron reacts.

-With Chase Elliott watching this race from home, the next best driver in terms of “2022 Atlanta points acquired” is Ross Chastain. He averaged north of 40 points per race, finishing 2nd in each event. Could today be the day he breaks through here? Some drama over the week after Denny Hamlin admitted to intentionally hitting

-Someone else hoping to find Victory Lane is Corey LaJoie. It wouldn’t just be his first Atlanta Win, it would be his first career Win. Last Spring, he finished 5th here. Returning in the Summer he battled eventual winner Chase Elliott towards the end of the race, actually leading 19 laps that day before finding the wall and bringing it home 21st. He’s got a fresh car today, what can LaJoie build upon his previous experience?

-I’m not going to say “all eyes” are on Josh Berry, but some probably are. He’s piloting the car that won the last Atlanta Cup race, and that has definitely got to count for something. He finished 7th yesterday in the Xfinity Series, and 2nd last Fall.

Back to Atlanta, and we hit the internet for some foods that we haven’t yet made here…

Chili Cheese Hot Dogs w/ Cherry Cola Cupcake (Photo: Lisa Kuhmann)
Cherry Cola Cupcakes (Photo: Lisa Kuhmann)

Chili Cheese Hot Dogs with Cherry Cola Cupcakes! If you didn’t know, Coca-Cola is a product of Atlanta, and we’ll have a nice, cool glass of Coke today, too. Cupcakes are stuffed with cherry pie filling, and topped with a maraschino cherry on top (pictured above; about as close as you can get without your eyes getting wet). Good stuff! Chili dogs, most of us have had those before; Lisa is yet to partake — wow! I started with two, might down about four of them as the day drags on. Lisa is digging into her first one now and says “good.” What a gal. Can’t wait to marry her. I love you Leese, great job!

Coverage of the race from Atlanta starts on FOX at 3:00pm, green flag scheduled for 3:19pm.

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