NASCAR Cup Series at Atlanta results: William Byron wins, is fifth different driver in Victory Lane in 2022

When Atlanta Motor Speedway revealed its plans to repave and reprofile for the 2022 season, the changes promised to create a kind of race like nothing ever seen before at the mile and a half oval in Georgia. The end result was one of the most remarkable races in the speedway’s history, and the first win of the season for William Byron.

After leading much of the closing laps of the race, Byron was able to drive off and win the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta to pick up his first victory of 2022. Over the final 14 laps, Byron had been shaping up to be a sitting duck as Bubba Wallace looked to pounce, but Wallace’s plans were foiled when Ross Chastain took him side-by-side at the white flag.

As Chastain, Wallace, and the rest of the field jockeyed for position behind Byron, the side-by-side racing on the final lap prevented anyone from getting a run on the eventual winner, allowing him to take his third career Cup Series victory and his first since Homestead-Miami in February of 2021.

Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 unofficial results

1 – #24 – William Byron
2 – #1 – Ross Chastain
3 – #45 – Kurt Busch
4 – #99 – Daniel Suarez
5 – #7 – Corey LaJoie
6 – #9 – Chase Elliott
7 – #17 – Chris Buescher
8 – #19 – Martin Truex Jr.
9 – #22 – Joey Logano
10 – #48 – Alex Bowman

Byron took the checkered flag in a race that shattered the record for both the most lead changes and the most different leaders in over 60 years of history at the Georgia speedway. It was one that more than gave paying race fans their money’s worth, with constant action from start to finish.

“It was so cool. I think these fans saw one heck of a race, Byron told Fox Sports. “It was certainly long from my seat .. mentally taxing.”

Here are some of the notable takeaways from today’s race and Byron’s victory.

ATL attrition

By all metrics, Sunday’s 500 mile race was a thriller like Atlanta has never seen before. The field spent most of the event two and sometimes three-wide, producing lead changes lap after lap and shattering all past speedway records:

  • 46 lead changes 
  • 20 different drivers led a lap

That record for lead changes stood since Bobby Allison won the Atlanta Journal 500 in 1982.

The close quarters racing did, however, make for lots of attrition. The yellow flag flew 11 times in all, with several of those cautions being for multi-car accidents. Among the notables who had crashes ruin their days included Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, and Tyler Reddick.

Busch, who was not keen on Atlanta being reconfigured, let brevity speak volumes. He parked his car after nearly crashing it again while going a lap down, and he put things quite simply when asked if he preferred the new version of Atlanta compared to the old one.

“No.”

Chastain the comeback kid

Early on, it looked as though Ross Chastain might have the car to beat as he paced the field throughout Stage 1. Then, entering Turn 1, things changed dramatically when Chastain blew a right rear tire, sending his car into the outside wall and then several laps down after a penalty for his crew improperly fueling his car while it was on the damaged vehicle policy clock.

But having not suffered major cosmetic damage, Chastain was able to fight back. Making up both his laps, Chastain found the front again by the end of the race, trying to make his move for the win on the last lap before finishing second. It’s the third top three finish in a row for Chastain, who has quickly become the hottest driver in NASCAR.

Toil and tire troubles

Chastain was not the only victim of a right rear tire failure. Tyler Reddick and Ricky Stenhouse also suffered that issue, leading to multi-car crashes that took both out of contention. The pattern was a curious one — all three cars that suffered sudden tire failures were Chevrolets, and all three were running at or near the very front of the field.

Speaking to the media mid-race, Goodyear official Greg Stucker stated that the tires from Chastain, Reddick, and Stenhouse’s cars were all overloaded and over-deflected. Tire wear was said to not be an issue, and the common denominator of manufacturer was noted.

In all likelihood, the issue with tire failures on the Chevrolet will be addressed before the Cup Series returns to Atlanta in July.

Notes from the finishing order

  • After another wild day at the racetrack, Christopher Bell crossed the finish line in second. However, that result did not stand — Bell made a pass below the white and red out-of-bounds line on the final lap, leading to NASCAR stripping him of his finishing position and relegating him to last car on the lead lap. Bell was credited with a 23rd place finish.
  • With another second-place for Chastain and a fourth-place run for Daniel Suarez, Trackhouse Racing continues its hot start to 2022 by putting its two cars in the Top 5 for the very first time. 23XI Racing also put their two cars in the top 15, with Kurt Busch coming home third and Bubba Wallace finishing 13th after getting shuffled out on the final lap.
  • In addition to Ross Chastain, another driver had quite a comeback after an accident. Corey LaJoie was among a dozen cars involved in Tyler Reddick’s wreck after a slide through the infield, but he would come home fifth to earn his career-best Cup Series finish. LaJoie’s top 5 run is also the best finish for Spire Motorsports since the team won at Daytona with Justin Haley in 2019.
  • Chris Buescher, Justin Haley, and Bubba Wallace were all involved in a vicious accident at the finish line, but all three were able to finish inside the top 15. Buescher’s 7th place run and Haley’s 11th place day are season best results, while Wallace’s 13th is his best finish since his runner-up in the Daytona 500.
  • In addition to Corey LaJoie up front, Josh Bilicki had a very solid day in Spire Motorsports’ second car, managing the race and finishing 16th. That’s his first finish inside the top 20 since he earned a career-best 10th place finish last August at Daytona.
  • Independent driver and Live Fast Motorsports co-owner BJ McLeod had a day to be very proud of. Staying out under caution, McLeod was able to lead laps for the very first time in his Cup career, and he would wind up finishing 19th. Like Bilicki, that’s also McLeod’s best finish since Daytona last August (9th).
  • Sunday was a bit of a throwback for one driver, as Greg Biffle was very competitive throughout the day. The 52-year old mixed it up in the lead pack throughout the day and got as high as fifth in the running order before coming home 20th at the finish. That’s the first top 20 for Biffle since a 17th place run at Homestead at the end of the 2016 season.

Next race

The NASCAR Cup Series goes to South Texas for its first road course race of the season, as they take on the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin for the Echopark Texas Grand Prix next Sunday.