Even a late caution flag that sent the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 into overtime could not help the Ford teams improve on their finishing positions at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag for the 76th time in his career to tie Dale Earnhardt on the all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup win’s list. Brad Keselowski finished 9th and Ricky Stenhouse
Jr. 10th to lead the contingent of Ford drivers; Logano 12th, Biffle 13th, and Almirola in 15th were the only other Fusion drivers to finish in the top 20.
The race was run with only 2 caution flags, none during the first half of the race and the second coming with just 3 laps remaining that created a green-white-checker finish. NASCAR’s new overtime rule came into play when the leaders crossed the “valid restart” line on the backstretch only to have a wreck end the race as the rear of the field came out of turn two.
Joey Logano had run consistently in the top 10 during the first half of the race and appeared to have a Fusion that could contend for a win. Unfortunately, Logano made a mistake entering pit road just past the halfway point of the race and took out the commitment cone at the entrance to pit road resulting in a drive-through penalty that placed the number 22 Ford a lap down. After two races Logano is 8th in the Sprint Cup Points standings while Almirola is in 10th.
Next Sunday’s race in Las Vegas starts a three-week western swing for the Cup circuit before the traditional Easter Sunday break on March 27th. Drivers return back east for the first short track race of the season at Martinsville Speedway on April 3rd and a night race at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 9th.