Chase Briscoe on Pole After Rain Cancels Atlanta Qualifying

Saturday qualifying will now be a practice session as rain washed out all on-track activity on Friday.
Chase Briscoe on Pole After Rain Cancels Atlanta Qualifying

The Cup Series visits Atlanta Motor Speedway for the 116th time this weekend, but it will have a different feeling this time around. Being the third-oldest surface in the series, the track was repaved for the first time since 1997.

The Cup Series has revised the weekend schedule for the events at Atlanta after rain wiped out all on-track activity on Friday. With no practice time, the series announced that Saturday's qualifying session would be canceled, and the starting lineup would be set by the rulebook.

That means that last weekend's winner Chase Briscoe will lead the field to the green flag on Sunday. Cup drivers will have a practice session at 12:40 PM ET tomorrow as they prepare to race on the revamped 1.54-mile track in Hampton, Georgia.

After the second race weekend last year, officials tore the Speedway up to increase the banking to 28 degrees, but the turns are even more narrow. The backstretch was shortened while the frontstretch was widened. Teams and drivers are not quite sure what to expect when they finally hit the pavement, but the fans will surely be in for a show.

Most of the NASCAR officials expect Atlanta to feel more like a superspeedway. The series will utilize an aero package with 510 horsepower and seven-inch spoilers. This is similar to what was used at Daytona and Talladega.

Ryan Blaney will start on the outside of the front row, with Penske teammate Joey Logano starting from the inside of the second row. Kyle Busch will line up 4th on Sunday in his No. 18 Toyota. A trio of Chevrolet drivers are just behind him with Tyler Reddick, Chase Elliott, and Ross Chastain. Rounding out the top ten starters are Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Aric Almirola.

The last pole sitter to win the race was Kasey Kahne back in 2006. A front-row starter has not even won at Atlanta since 2009.

Ford has won five of the last six races at Atlanta, and have the top three starting positions. Toyota has won here just three times, and the last time came in 2013. They are still searching for their first race win of the season.

Kyle Larson starts 21st on Sunday but should still be considered the favorite. The reigning series champion won the first two stages of the race last year and led 269 of 325 laps. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott should be another driver to watch. He is still searching for his first victory in his hometown, where his father won five times.

“I would love to have a win at Atlanta,” Elliott said of his home track. “I feel like anyone’s home track you want to have a win at for sure. I would love to go and have a good run in Atlanta. It’s always going to be a special place for me. I’ve spent a lot of time racing legends cars down there so for sure I’d love to go and have a good run.”

Goodyear conducted a tire test at Atlanta on Jan. 5-6 with three drivers – 23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch, RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher and Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain – to come up with a suitable tire combination for the unique

Back in January, Goodyear conducted a tire test at Atlanta with Kurt Busch, Chris Buescher, and Ross Chastain as they tried to come up with a suitable tire combination for the new pavement. “Atlanta has always been a major challenge from a tire standpoint, but the reason for that challenge has changed dramatically since our last race there,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “Last season, Atlanta was the most worn surface on the circuit, aggressively wearing tires and calling for four-tire stops at every opportunity."

Teams will receive three sets of tires for practice, one set for qualifying and 13 sets for Sunday’s race.

“I think the goal has been to try and find some tire falloff everywhere we’ve gone, and I think Goodyear has done a really good job of that at a lot of places,” said Buescher. “With new asphalt at Atlanta and speeds as high as they are and loads as high as they are, I don’t know what kind of box that puts them in. New asphalt, when it gives up, it goes to a chatter more than a slide and just trying to hang on. I’m not sure what to expect there exactly."

Coverage for Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 begins at 3 PM ET on FOX.

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