Jimmie Johnson went to Victory Lane in Sundays running of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but apart from the six time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions strategy with crew chief Chad Knaus being a talking point there were a number of other incidents during the 325 lap event that got fans talking.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth in the Dollar General Toyota also had eventful race, after going from leading at one point to then being two laps down and out of contention after he was given a pass through penalty for improper fueling by NASCAR.
The New Downforce and Tire Package
Coming into this week it was known that the new downforce package developed by NASCAR would be coming into effect and the new tire compound from Goodyear was being rolled out which would make the tires wear quicker and coupled with the lower downforce on the cars should make them overall harder for the drivers to manage.
From the drop of the Green Flag there was three wide and side-by-side battles throughout the field as drivers got to grips with the new downforce whilst running in a pack of cars and not just single file in practice or qualifying.
Stewart Haas Racing driver Kurt Busch looked like he had got to grips with it early on as he led a number of laps after starting on the pole in the Monster Energy Chevrolet.
Young rookies Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney looked as if they understood how and where to run on the track with the new package as they were both inside the top 15 for most of the race, with Elliott bringing his NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet home in 8th position when the checkered flag flew.
As with anything there are those who struggle with change and Kyle Larson looked to be one of those as after a few laps he had dropped from his starting spot of 20th down to 30th.
Overall the new downforce package, which drivers and teams alike had called for, was successful as it ensured no one ran away with the race as Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr and eventual winner Jimmie Johnson, along with a number of other drivers, got to the point during the event.
Good Week For Johnson and Elliott
Two drivers who all round had a successful week at the speedway were six time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and newcomer and rookie Chase Elliott.
Johnson took his Lowes Chevrolet too Victory Lane at the end of the race after holding off a late charge from competitor Harvick and Elliott brought his #24 to an 8th place finish and earned him the Highest Finishing Rookie Award for the race.
Early on Johnson was staying inside the top ten in the #48 and looked to be conserving his tires for the long run but towards the end of the race he and Crew Chief Chad Knaus played the strategy perfectly to pit ten laps before anyone else and have a comfortable advantage over Harvick when the final set of stops cycled through.
Apart from the late restart where everyone came in for fresh rubber, which gave Knaus and Johnson a scare as their hard work was erased, the massively experienced Johnson stayed calm and grabbed the victory telling reporters afterwards: "It was just a great team effort. The No. 4 car was awfully tough and it was going to take some strategy to get by him."
Rookie Elliott drove a solid race by sitting inside the top 15 for the whole of the race and managing to not go a lap down when the long 210 green flag run was in progress.
Even though it was just his second start in a Sprint Cup car this season he looks to have got a strangle hold on his #24 machine and looks to be the one to beat for this seasons Rookie of the Year Award already.
Bad Week For Harvick And Truex Jr
Although the driver of the #4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet came home in 6th it will feel like a bitter consolation to finish inside the top 10 after he managed to lead a total of 131 laps during the race.
If it wasn't for the late caution, after Ryan Newman lost a tire and spun into turn three, Harvick would have come home runner-up. But on the final restart in NASCAR's Overtime the #4 machines tires spun on the restart and he was shoved out into 6th place by the time that the race came to a conclusion.
Harvick told FoxSports1 after the race: "We got way behind, and the No. 48 was way out front, and I had to drive the car really hard and got the right rear burned up. We just didn't execute today, but everybody on out=r Jimmy John's/Busch Chevrolet hung in there all day, and we'll keep at it."
Truex Jr was another driver who led for a portion of the race and was in contention for the win right up until the caution flew that ended the race. The driver of the Denver Mattress #78 restarted in 4th on the final restart but eventually came home in 7th after getting muscled out in the battle at the end.
For a long time in the race it looked like either Harvick or Treux Jr would end the day in Victory Lane as they traded places in the lead for a time, but after finishing 6th and 7th respectively, it will feel like a missed opportunity for both of them heading into this weeks race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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