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5 Potential Playoff “Bubble Busters” for Atlanta

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Joshua Lipowski

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The NASCAR Playoff bubble is a moving target, and one timely winner can throw the entire Playoff grid upside down. Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend is one of the biggest wild cards in the final eight races before the Playoffs. Which drivers are the biggest potential Playoff “Bubble Busters?”

Corey LaJoie

Corey LaJoie’s two best career finishes came at the reconfigured Atlanta in the spring races each of the last two years. He also was in second place on the final lap of the July race last year before crashing. Atlanta is one of his best race tracks, and he feels this may be his best chance to win he has ever had.

Is he able to perform under pressure, however? His disappointing performance in the 9 car at Gateway may make people question that. This weekend he could be under pressure from himself to perform well, and, if he overcomes that pressure, expect him to be up front.

Aric Almirola

Of Aric Almirola’s three Cup Series victories, two of them have come from superspeedway-style racing. Most notably 2014 at Daytona and 2018 at Talladega. He has led laps in two of the three races so far run at the reconfigured Atlanta.

Stewart-Haas Racing has struggled immensely this season, and this could be the place for them to turn things around. It’s a race track where anything truly can happen, and Almirola would love to get to victory lane at least once more before he hangs up his firesuit in the near future.

Austin Dillon

Remember Austin Dillon throwing the Playoff grid out of whack at Daytona last August? Well, he has the chance to do it again, and he has won twice before in superspeedway-style races. He has struggled at the reconfigured Atlanta, but missing the big wreck can open the door for him.

We know that he is in race-winning equipment as evidenced by how good of a season his teammate, Kyle Busch, is having. The pressure is on for Dillon to start performing, and this is a race he can turn his season around with.

Chase Elliott

Who better to throw into the “Bubble Buster” category than the race’s defending winner? Chase Elliott won the July race at Atlanta last season, and he is always a threat to win at his home race track. Add to that his cars have been very fast recently.

He is quietly on a streak of three consecutive top-5 finishes and four in his last five starts. He and his team are starting to figure things out, and it seems like only a matter of time before the Dawsonville kid finds his way to victory lane.

Erik Jones

Legacy Motor Club is in a rebuilding…Lame Duck…Whatever metaphor you want to use. It’s been a tough year for them, but one of Erik Jones’ few bright spots was his eighth place run at Atlanta back in the spring. He also got his first career win on a superspeedway at Daytona in 2018.

The ability to run on these types of race tracks is there. He also finished a solid fourth last season in the July race at Atlanta. For a team who is in desperate need of a win, watch out for Erik Jones this weekend.

Atlanta is now one of NASCAR’s biggest wild card races, and it is not the last one on the schedule before the Playoffs. If any of these drivers can avoid getting caught up in someone else’s mess, watch out for them on Sunday.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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