With the Western Swing complete, NASCAR haulers point their way to the Southeast. As teams look to Atlanta, we look at the best races at the embattled track. From the inaugural race that some thought wouldn’t happen to 2022’s superspeedway style, Atlanta has played host to some memorable moments.
5: 2011 Advocare 500
Hurricane Irene delayed 2011’s edition of Atlanta’s Cup race, but the event proved to be worth the wait, as two of the best drivers in NASCAR history ended up battling each other for the checkered flag.
Jimmie Johnson tried everything to pass Jeff Gordon during the closing laps, even driving to the verge of wrecking multiple times. Despite the champ’s efforts, Gordon held on for what would be his 85th career victory.
4: 2000 Cracker Barrel 500
Mike Skinner’s blown engine with less than 20 laps remaining left Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Labonte to settle the 2000 race win amongst themselves.
Earnhardt controlled the lead on the final restart while Labonte ate away at the deficit during the final laps. Labonte finally got the run he needed coming off Turn 4 heading towards the checkered flag, but Earnhardt had just enough, winning by just .010 seconds.
3: 2001 Cracker Barrel 500
After the tragic loss of Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress called up Kevin Harvick to fill the roster spot. The car number was changed to 29, but the Intimidator’s spirit lived on. Harvick beat out Earnhardt’s rival, Jeff Gordon, in the closing laps. The Closer edged out Gordon by just .006s. One of the closest margins of victory in NASCAR history came in front of an emotional Atlanta crowd, many donning the black and gray for their beloved number 3.
2: 2022 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
In the first race since the repave, Atlanta’s new steep banks created super-speedway style racing on the mile-and-a-half track. NASCAR was forced to reduce the horsepower from the 670 hp package down to 510.
This set up created chaotic pack racing that saw Corey LaJoie in a position to race Chase Elliott for the win. The pair ended up sixth and fifth respectively after contact, giving the win to William Byron.
The race received mixed reviews from drivers and some fans, but it featured track records: 20 different leaders with 46 lead changes.
1: 1992 Hooters 500
The 1992 Hooters 500 is often regarded as the greatest race in NASCAR history as it served as the final start for Richard Petty, the first start for Jeff Gordon and ended up settling a year-long championship battle primarily between Alan Kulwicki, Bill Elliott and Davey Allison.
Kulwicki and Elliott were the last two standing after Allison was eliminated in a crash. Elliott ended up winning the race, but Kulwicki managed to lead one additional lap over his rival in the championship that day, which was enough to score him his lone Cup Series title with his own organization.