The NASCAR Cup Series took on Atlanta Motor Speedway for the final time before a massive renovation takes place. The drivers faced off at the 1.54-mile oval while fighting for the checkered flag. The race featured several lead changes and some surprising pit strategies, but Kurt Busch ultimately captured the win after an absolutely incredible battle with Kyle Busch.
The Busch brothers swept the first two stages of the Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry took the first while Kurt, the driver of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro, finished in the second position. They then alternated spots at the end of Stage 2. The brothers continued battling for position during the final stage, each spending time at the front of the pack.
Kurt had the advantage during the final stage, showcasing impressive speed. However, his younger brother headed to pit road first. Kurt followed on the following lap, but he could not make it back out onto the racing surface before Kyle completed a trip around the 1.54-mile oval and took the lead.
The battle continued as Kurt fought to catch his brother. He tracked him down as Kyle approached lap traffic, and then he partnered with teammate Ross Chastain to make a move. Kurt jumped ahead of Kyle with 23 laps remaining and then continued fighting for the remainder of the race. Once the race came to an end, Kurt and Chastain drove next to each other in celebration before the driver of the No. 1 yelled “shake and bake” in reference to Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
The Race Came to a Late Halt Due to a Surprising Reason
Throughout the week leading up to the Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart, the majority of discussions revolved around the track surface, the upcoming repaving, and the proposed changes to the turns. The conversation took another turn during the race after the NASCAR official waved the red flag.
The race came to a halt with 93 laps remaining due to an issue with the track surface. The asphalt broke and left a sizable hole on the front stretch. The safety crew immediately headed out to the affected area and began examining how to best fix the damage.
NASCAR estimated that the repairs would take roughly eight to 10 minutes. However, the race remained under red flag conditions for 19 minutes and four seconds. The crew eventually made repairs and told the drivers to fire their engines once more. The Cup Series cars took some caution laps before the race went green with 90 laps remaining.
Martin Truex Jr. Made an Impressive Surge Into the Top 10
Prior to the 3:30 p.m. ET start time, NASCAR officials announced that the driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry would drop to the rear of the field. Truex’s ride had failed inspection multiple times, putting him at a distinct disadvantage.
However, Truex did not remain at the back of the pack. He immediately began making moves and worked his way into the top 15. He only needed 49 laps to do so, and then he locked up the ninth position at the end of Stage 1. Truex continued racing near the front of the pack during Stage 2, finishing the segment in the 10th position and adding more points to his total.
While several other drivers alternated in and out of the top 10, Truex remained around the fifth and sixth positions. He just quietly and consistently performed throughout the day and turned in a third-place finish, continuing multiple weeks’ worth of improvement after some midseason struggles.