Event Folds of Honor 500 (Round 2 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.54-mile oval)
Format: 325 laps, broken into three stages (85 laps/85 laps/155 laps)
Start/Finish: 3rd/5th (Running, completed 325 of 325 laps)
Point Standing: 9th with 60 points, 27 out of first
Race Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-85):
● Started third and finished 10th.
● Bowyer reported his car was loose in the opening laps as he drifted outside the top-five.
● Bowyer raced in 10th after the competition caution on lap 35.
● Crew told Bowyer his car’s nose had a hole in it the size of a tennis ball.
● Bowyer told his crew he felt like his car was “just on top of the track.”
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 86-170):
● Started 10th and finished 10th.
● Bowyer climbed to eighth by lap 124.
● He made a scheduled green-flag stop on lap 128.
● Bowyer raced in seventh by lap 140, turning some of the fastest lap times during this stage of the race.
● Dropped to 10th in the closing laps of the stage.
● Bowyer told his crew the car “takes off too good and falls off too fast.”
Final Stage Recap (Laps 171-325):
● Started fifth, finished fifth.
● Bowyer moved to fifth after a quick stop by the pit crew before the stage break.
● Bowyer climbed as high as third in the opening laps of the final stage.
● Crew continued to make handling changes to improve performance.
● With less than 60 laps remaining Bowyer pitted, reporting major handling issues. After further inspection the crew determined he had a cut tire.
● Bowyer finished the race without incident to record the fifth-place finish.
● Bowyer earned his second top-five and seventh top-10 in 19 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Atlanta.
● Bowyer’s fifth-place result came one year after his career-best Atlanta finish of third in last year’s Folds of Honor 500.
● Bowyer finished 10th in Stage 1 to earn one bonus point and 10th in Stage 2 to earn an additional bonus point.
● Bowyer led both practices held on Friday and Saturday.
● Brad Keselowski won the Folds of Honor 500 to score his 28th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his second at Atlanta. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr. was .218 of a second.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 30 laps. Only 17 of the 37 drivers in the Folds of Honor 500 finished on the lead lap.
● Denny Hamlin leaves Atlanta as the championship leader with an eight-point advantage over second-place Kevin Harvick.
Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“Our run wasn’t pretty. I knew our car had great speed, obviously, from practice and qualifying. Racing is a different beast, especially at Atlanta. You have to take care of those Goodyears. The way I had it, it felt like I was on top of the track skating around too much. We made good air pressure adjustments and got the grip level back in my racecar to where I could compete. It is just weird. You see cars that are kind of up, cars that are down, cars that are dragging, cars that aren’t. Trying to figure out the right scenario for this is going to be interesting. You have to remember, this is a one-off race. There is no track that we go to anymore that is as slick as this and as hard on tires. It will be interesting to see what Las Vegas brings.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Las Vegas 400 on Sunday, March 3 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 3 p.m.