Hey Las Vegas, Good Luck Matching that Atlanta NASCAR Race

Jackson Wheeler
5 Min Read


  • On social media and elsewhere, fans responded to the Atlanta finish with wild endorsements.
  • It’s normal for an exciting race and/or exciting finish to elevate fan interest.
  • Las Vegas Motor Speedway president Chris Powell said the afterglow from Atlanta has been felt in the desert.

Atlanta Motor Speedway was a capital of racing excitement Sunday as a three-wide battle for the checkered flag ended the Ambetter Health 400, with Daniel Suarez winning by .003 of a second.

It was the third closest finish in Cup history (as recorded by timing devices).

On social media and elsewhere, fans responded to the Atlanta finish with wild endorsements.

That’s all good, and it was a major positive kick for the sport in general, but will such a result now be expected everywhere? Will every race finish be found wanting if cars aren’t three-wide and inches apart at the line? Will fans next expect cars to cross the finish line upside-down and on fire?

Las Vegas Motor Speedway, you’re up next.

Chris Powell, president of LVMS, has worked in motorsports for more than 30 years. He’ll be the primary host Sunday at the track to follow Atlanta’s spectacle. And he appreciates what took place in Georgia Sunday night.

auto feb 25 nascar cup series ambetter health 400

Icon Sportswire//Getty Images

One thing we won’t see at Las Vegas is a three-wide finish the likes of what we saw at Atlanta one week ago.

“I’ve been to a lot of races over the years,” Powell said Tuesday. “That finish was great—made me think back to Davey Allison sliding sideways with Kyle Petty on the last lap at the Winston, Dale Earnhardt racing Terry Labonte at the finish at Bristol, Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch on the last lap at Darlington and the door-handle-to-door-handle finish we had here with the Burton brothers (Jeff and Ward). But three-wide? You really couldn’t tell who the winner was. It was a photo-finish like no other.”

It’s normal for an exciting race and/or exciting finish to elevate fan interest in races to come, and Powell said the afterglow from Atlanta has been felt in the desert.

“The whole race was outstanding, not just the finish,” he said. “This year we’ve had a 15- to 20-percent increase in phones ringing and actual purchases over last year. Once the cars are back on the track elsewhere, it promotes people’s desire to get out and see racing. And Atlanta absolutely has created more interest.”

Powell said LVMS also will benefit this year from recent heavy exposure Las Vegas received from hosting the Super Bowl and a Formula 1 street race. “Even more of a spotlight was trained on the city over the past few months,” he said. “It all adds up.”

It’s not realistic (or even possible, in some cases), of course, to expect three-wide finishes week-to-week in NASCAR. For Vegas, it’s been feast and famine. Some winners at the 1.5-mile track have coasted home several seconds in front of second place, but there also have been nail-biters. Jimmie Johnson logged the track’s smallest margin of victory by finishing .045 of a second in front of Matt Kenseth in 2006. Last fall, Kyle Larson edged Christopher Bell by .082 for the track’s second-closest finish.

Late-race competition generally is up at LVMS. In three of the past four races at the track, the winning pass has come in the final three laps—Alex Bowman over Larson in March 2022, Joey Logano over Ross Chastain in October 2022 and William Byron over Martin Truex Jr. in March 2023.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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