A look at the winners and losers from this weekend’s action at Atlanta Motor Speedway…
Kurt Busch – After rising into playoff position in recent weeks, Kurt Busch is locked into the playoff field with his win Sunday. But will his win also help lock him into a new ride for 2022? He was already talking to owner Justin Marks about joining Trackhouse before it purchased Chip Ganassi Racing, where Busch has been since 2019. “I don’t know where I’m going, but I just love racing cars and I want to race that Next-Gen car,” he said after Sunday’s race. “That’s why I’m trying to stick around.”
Kyle Busch – Recorded his 102nd (and perhaps final) Xfinity Series win on Saturday, but an ill-timed encounter with Ross Chastain while leading late Sunday led to him losing out to big brother Kurt Busch. It’s likely cold comfort to him, but the runner-up Sunday was still Rowdy’s fourth consecutive top-three finish (includes his Pocono 2 win). Regardless of results, some may consider him a winner for his comments on Atlanta Motor Speedway’s upcoming makeover alone – but we’ll leave that up to you.
Martin Truex Jr. – Finished third Sunday after having to start from the rear for multiple pre-race inspection failures. Truex also recovered from a pit road run-in with Kevin Harvick during the Stage 1 intermission that forced him to pit again for damage repair. “I got all the way back up through there,” said Truex. “It’s one of those days. Passed a lot of cars. … We closed in to within two or three seconds from leaders, but just ran out of time there.”
Ryan Blaney – Followed his March win at Atlanta with a fifth-place showing Sunday. He’s posted top-six finishes in three of the last four races.
Christopher Bell – It’s back-to-back top 10s now for Bell, who followed his runner-up last week at Road America with an eighth-place showing Sunday. That’s a nice improvement from his 21st-place finish at Atlanta in March. Will other return trips in the second half of the season be fruitful?
Tyler Reddick – Claimed his third consecutive top-10 finish with a sixth-place run and scored points in both stages. So why is he in the losers column? Because the winless Reddick has fallen into the 16th and final playoff position. His 96-point cushion over 17th-place Chris Buescher is healthy. But if Buescher or someone else behind the cut line earns a surprise win in the final five regular season races, he’s in big trouble.
Daniel Suarez – On that note, if Daytona wasn’t the regular season finale, the playoff field would be virtually set by now. It’s win or bust for everyone behind the cut line, including Suarez, who was swept up in a multi-car crash early Sunday. He’s finished 36th in back-to-back races, which have taken him from 48 to 179 points behind the cut line. Brutal.
William Byron – A tight-handling race car during the final stage led to a 20th-place finish. For the first time all season, Byron’s finished outside the top 10 in three consecutive races (12th – Pocono 2, 33rd – Road America. He banked 14 top-10 finishes in the season’s first 18 races.