Chevrolet looking to keep hot start to the season going Sunday in Atlanta, a look at that and some top nuggets ahead of this weekend’s race

The first four races of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season have seen only one manufacturer in Victory Lane – Chevrolet.

This season from the Chevrolet camp, JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the DAYTONA 500, Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch won at Auto Club Speedway and Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron has won the last two races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway.

In the Modern Era (1972-2023), a manufacturer has only swept a season’s first four races four times and Chevrolet drivers are responsible for three of them – Chevrolet (1995, 2001, 2023) and Ford (1992).

A manufacturer has only swept the first five races of a NASCAR Cup Series season in the Modern Era (1972-2023) twice – Chevrolet (1995) and Ford (1992).

The record for the most consecutive wins by a manufacturer to start at NASCAR Cup Series season in the Modern Era (1972-2023) is nine straight victories by Ford in the 1992 season.

The most consecutive victories to start a NASCAR Cup Series season by Chevrolet was seven straight wins in the 1995 season – second-most in the Modern Era. They have a legitimate shot on Sunday too in the fact that out of the 6 “drafting package” races in this Next Gen Era, they’ve won 5 of them, all consecutively.

Last six Cup races at Atlanta have produced different winners

In the last six NASCAR Cup Series races at Atlanta Motor Speedway have produced six different winners – Brad Keselowski (2019), Kevin Harvick (2020), Ryan Blaney (Spring 2021), Kurt Busch (Fall 2021), William Byron (Spring 2022) and Chase Elliott (Fall 2022). Now, with the series rolling into Atlanta this weekend, will the fans get to see a seventh different winner?

A total of six NASCAR Cup Series Atlanta Motor Speedway race winners are active this weekend, led by Kevin Harvick (2001, 2018, 2020), and followed by Brad Keselowski (2017, 2019), Kyle Busch (2008, 2013), William Byron (2022), Ryan Blaney (2021) and Denny Hamlin (2012). The most recent winner at Atlanta, Chase Elliott, is sidelined this weekend with a broken leg from a snowboarding accident in Colorado.

One driver looking to add their name to the winners list at Atlanta Motor Speedway is Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain, who finished runner-up in both of the NASCAR Cup Series races at the 1.54-mile track last season.

HAMPTON, GEORGIA – JULY 10: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #47 Kroger/Ball Park Chevrolet, and Tyler Reddick, driver of the #8 Alsco Uniforms Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 10, 2022 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Atlanta Motor Speedway’s new configuration produced some stellar racing last season

When the NASCAR Next Gen car took to the newly reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway last March the expectations were really high, and the NASCAR Cup Series delivered – setting new statistical records even.

The race was won by Hendrick Motorsports’ driver William Byron, but not before seeing a track record 46 lead changes among a track record 20 different leaders.

The Atlanta Motor Speedway NASCAR Cup Series race on March 20, 2023 also produced a series record for green flag passes for the lead on 1.5-mile tracks with 141 green flag passes for the lead (GFPL). The previous record for green flag passes for the lead on a 1.5-mile track in the NASCAR Cup Series was held by Texas Motor Speedway with 57 GFPL.

Atlanta Motor Speedway’s 2022 spring race also produced a NASCAR Cup Series record for total green flag passes on 1.5-mile tracks with 6,439 total green flag passes. The previous record for total green flag passes on a 1.5-mile track in the NASCAR Cup Series was held by Charlotte Motor Speedway with 4,520 total green flag passes.

Harvick is one of a few first-time Cup winners at Atlanta Motor Speedway

The NASCAR Cup Series has seen six different drivers win their first series career race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and probably the most memorable was Kevin Harvick’s 2001 victory after replacing a late Dale Earnhardt at Richard Childress Racing.

The six drivers earning their first win at Atlanta are Carl Edwards (2005), Kevin Harvick (2001), Jerry Nadeau (2000), Jim Hurtubise (1966), Bob Burdick (1961), Bobby Johns (1960).

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick has made 34 career series starts at Atlanta posting two poles, three wins, nine top fives and 16 top 10s – all are series highs among the active drivers.

AVONDALE, ARIZONA – MARCH 12: William Byron, driver of the #24 Valvoline Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 12, 2023 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Red Hot William Byron heads to Atlanta looking for third straight victory in 2023

The last two NASCAR Cup Series races have seen cautions in the final laps giving Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron the last chance opportunities he needed to snag the two victories at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway. Now, the 25-year-old, Byron, heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Ambetter Health 400 on Sunday, March 19 at 3 p.m. ET (FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) looking for his third straight victory in the NASCAR Cup Series. If he accomplishes the feat this weekend, he will become just the sixth active driver to win three or more consecutive NASCAR Cup Series races and the 25th all-time. Byron is the defending spring race winner of the newly remodeled Atlanta Motor Speedway, taking the win over second-place Ross Chastain by a scant 0.145-second last season – the fourth closest finish in the series at Atlanta all-time.

The five active drivers that have won three or more consecutive Cup races are Kyle Larson (twice in 2021), Kyle Busch (2015, 2018), Brad Keselowski (2018), Kevin Harvick (2018) and Joey Logano (2015).

In four starts this season, Byron has put up two wins (Las Vegas, Phoenix) and has led 240 laps. His average finish this year is 15.3. His season-to-date driver rating is 107.2 (series-best), his average running position is 7.8 (second-best) and he has spent 84.1% of his laps completed running in the top-15.

Looking ahead to this weekend at Atlanta, Byron has made seven series starts at the 1.54-mile track posting one win (2022), one top five and two top 10s.

Alex Bowman is the only driver with four consecutive top-10 finishes this season

Consistency is paying off for Alex Bowman and the Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 Chevrolet team, as they are the only NASCAR Cup Series team this season to score four consecutive top-10 finishes in as many races.

In four starts this season, Bowman has put up two top fives and four top 10s. He leads the series in average finish this year with a 6.3. Plus, his season-to-date driver rating is 95.7 (sixth-best), his average running position is 10.6 (sixth-best) and he has spent 81.4% of his laps completed running in the top-15 (sixth-best).

Bowman will look to keep the early success going this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he has made nine series starts posting two top fives and three top 10s. His average finish at the 1.54-mile track is 17.1.

Cup Series driver milestone starts to watch for – Over the next few races several drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series will reach milestones starts if they continue to run fulltime in the series.

This weekend on March 19, Hendrick Motorsports’ driver Kyle Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, will be making his 300th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Next weekend at Circuit of The Americas on March 26, Kaulig Racing’s A.J. Allmendinger will be making his 400th career NASCAR Cup Series start.

Then at Richmond Raceway in two weeks on April 2, Team Penske’s Austin Cindric will be making his 50th career NASCAR Cup Series start.

And at Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt on April 9, Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch will be making his 650th NASCAR Cup Series career start. Busch will become the 27th different NASCAR Cup Series driver all-time to make 650 or more starts.

Then at Talladega Superspeedway on April 23, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick will be making his 800th career NASCAR Cup Series career start. Harvick will become just the 10th different NASCAR Cup Series driver all-time to make 800 or more starts in the series.

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