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Atlanta Cup staff picks

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Here is who the NBC Sports staff is picking in today’s NASCAR Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Nate Ryan

Kevin Harvick. He had the best car in Saturday’s Xfinity race and seems finally to have figured this track out over the past few seasons (just before it’s repaved). After leading more than 100 laps in four of the past five races here, he breaks through from the pole to capture his first Cup victory at the 1.54-mile oval since March 11, 2001.

Dustin Long

Kyle Busch takes the win with the help of a fast pit crew and crew chief Adam Stevens’ strategy.

Daniel McFadin

Jamie McMurray hasn’t won in a while. But the Chip Ganassi Racing driver starts seventh today after being the only driver to have a top five 10-lap average in both Cup practice sessions. McMurray earns his first Cup win since 2013 at the track that gave him his first NASCAR win in the Xfinity Series in 2002.

Jerry Bonkowski

Winning at Atlanta is an Elliott family tradition. Father Bill won there five times. Son Chase has come close three times there, with an eighth-place finish in his lone Cup race and two fifth-place finishes in the Xfinity Series. Sunday, it’s a perfect storyline: Like father, like son — Chase Elliott breaks through for his first NASCAR Cup win — and at his hometown track to boot.

Justin Allgaier wins pole for Charlotte Xfinity race

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CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won the pole for the Xfinity Series’ Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

With a speed of 182.488 mph, Allgaier earned his fifth Xfinity pole and his first since the March 2013 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Allgaier is joined on the front row by Austin Dillon (181.519).

The top five is completed by Ryan Blaney (181.378), Daniel Hemric (181.324) and Kevin Harvick (181.245).

Christopher Bell will start seventh in his first Xfinity race.

Brad Keselowski and Dakoda Armstrong will start from the rear after not passing inspection in time to qualify.

Click here for full qualifying results.

Ryan Blaney leads second Coke 600 practice

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CONCORD, N.C. — Ryan Blaney posted the top speed in the second practice session for the Coca-Cola 600.

Blaney’s No. 21 Ford produced a speed of 188.055 mph Saturday morning around Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The top five was filled out by Erik Jones (187.598 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (187.084), Daniel Suarez (186.838) and Trevor Bayne (186.239).

Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick was ninth fastest at 185.567 mph. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 14th quickest at 185.141 mph.

Kyle Bush recorded the most laps in the session with 48.

Click here for the full practice report.

Eight teams lose 15 minutes of Coke 600 practice for failing pre-qualifying inspection

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CONCORD, N.C. — Eight Cup teams will be held 15 minutes during Coca-Cola 600 practice today for failing pre-qualifying inspection on Thursday

Drivers include Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Corey LaJoie and Chris Buescher.

Buescher’s team also loses pit selection for Sunday’s race due to failing pre-qualifying inspection three ties.

Larson and LaJoie’s loss of practice time comes on top of them not making qualifying runs on Thursday after neither of their cars passed inspection in time.


NASCAR America: How much risk should drivers take in the Coca-Cola 600?

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As in many things in life, whether something is worth doing comes down to risk vs. reward.

Such will be the case in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. How much are drivers willing to risk? Will that risk be worth reward, particularly with the additional stage to the race?

On Friday’s NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman jumped into the iRacing simulator and showed the greatest strategies to employ in Sunday’s race, especially with the traction compound up top.

Check out the above video.