HAMPTON, Ga. – Chase Briscoe started 25th and finished 23rd at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday. Winning the race was Ryan Blaney.
Ryan Blaney pulled away to win by 2.083 seconds in his No. 12 Team Penske Ford, having gone just as long as Kyle Larson on the final set of tires.
In the end, Larson faded on an battered set of tires, and Blaney raced by him for an improbable victory Sunday.
“I was not going to be able to stick with him,” Blaney said. “I’ve got to save my tires … and see what happens.”
Blaney became the sixth driver to win in six races to start NASCAR’s Cup season, surging to the front with nine laps to go after Larson easily won the first two stages and led 269 of 325 laps on the 1.54-mile trioval.
Larson’s tires didn’t stand up to the punishing track after making his final pit stop with 56 laps to go.
Blaney stayed close enough to make his move, hugging the outside wall through the fourth turn and cutting to the inside to pass Larson as they crossed the line in front of the main grandstands.
Blaney pulled away to win by 2.083 seconds in his No. 12 Team Penske Ford, having gone just as long as Larson on the final set of tires but getting much more out of them.
“It’s cool to win at a place where you’ve got to finesse it a little bit and think about it,” Blaney said after his fifth career victory.
He led just 25 laps, but was out front for the one that mattered.
Event: Folds of Honor 500 (Round 6 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.54-mile oval)
Format: 325 laps, broken into three stages (105 laps/105 laps/115 laps)
Start/Finish: 24th / 23rd (Running, completed 323 of 325 laps)
Point Standing: 27th (87 points, 190 out of first)
Race Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-105):
● Chase Briscoe started 24th and finished 28th.
● The HighPoint.com/CO-OP Financial Services driver reported his Ford Mustang was too loose on entry into turn one on lap 25, just before the yellow flag waved signaling the competition caution. Briscoe pitted on lap 27 for four tires, fuel and adjustments and restarted 24th on lap 30.
● Green-flag stops began on lap 62 with Briscoe eventually giving up the sixth position on lap 66 when he pitted under green for four tires, fuel and adjustments. He returned to the track in the 28th position, one lap down to the leaders.
● On lap 94, Briscoe radioed to the team that he was “wrecking loose” while racing in the 28th position.
● At the conclusion of Stage 1, Briscoe brought his HighPoint.com/CO-OP Financial Services Ford Mustang to pit road for four tires, fuel and air pressure and chassis adjustments.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 106-210):
● Briscoe started 28th and finished 25th.
● Briscoe began the second stage in the 28th position and reported early in the run that he was too free on entry and through the corner.
● On lap 157, the No. 14 team made a scheduled green-flag stop for four tires, fuel and adjustments and returned to the track in 26th.
● Briscoe worked his way to the 24th position on lap 170 before his HighPoint.com/CO-OP Financial Services Ford Mustang became too tight. He slipped back to the 25th position, two laps down to the leaders by the end of the second stage on lap 210.
● Under caution at the stage break, Briscoe pitted on lap 214 for four tires, fuel and adjustments.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 211-325):
● Briscoe started 25th and finished 23rd.
● The HighPoint.com/CO-OP Financial Services driver was riding 25th two laps down when the fifth caution of the race occurred on lap 221. With only eight laps on his tires, Briscoe stayed on track as the leaders pitted to earn back one lap. He restarted 24th, one lap down, on lap 224.
● Briscoe was running 23rd on lap 267 when the leaders began making their final scheduled green-flag pit stops. He pitted one lap later for tires and fuel and returned to the track in 26th.
● Briscoe made his way up to the 22nd position, but as he was battling for position on the final lap, a slower car moved into his lane, causing the No. 14 to cross the finish line in 23rd.
● Ryan Blaney won the Folds of Honor 500 to score his fifth career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Atlanta. His margin over second-place Kyle Larson was 2.083 seconds.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 25 laps.
● Only 14 of the 39 drivers in the Folds of Honor 500 finished on the lead lap.
● Denny Hamlin remains the championship leader after Atlanta with a 43-point advantage over second-place Larson.
Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 HighPoint.com/CO-OP Financial Services Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“Our balance was kind of off all day, but our HighPoint.com/CO-OP Financial Services Ford Mustang was pretty good that last run. We were just too far behind to do much with it by then. Other than that, we had a nice clean race and we’ve learned a lot that we’ll be able to bring back in July. I’m pretty excited to get to Bristol and do some dirt racing next week. Maybe that’s what we need to turn things around.”
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Food City Dirt Race on Sunday, March 28 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The race begins at 3:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.