Watch the Amazing Third Closest Finish in NASCAR History

Jackson Wheeler
8 Min Read

From the beginning of Sunday’s ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, it was a race of records.

On the second lap of the 260-lap race, a 16-car wreck heading into turn one garnered the distinction of being the largest wreck in the 1.540-mile track’s history. Ironically, eventual winner Daniel Suarez was in that accident. However, he was back in the top 10 before the halfway mark thanks to repair work to his Chevrolet’s hood by his Trackhouse Racing crew.

By the time the checkered flag waved, there had been an Atlanta record 48 lead changes. The previous record was 46 set in March 2022.

However, it was the final record that captured everyone’s attention – the closest finish in the track’s history as Daniel Suarez, Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney drag raced three-wide off the fourth turn to the finish line. The photo finish gave Suarez a 0.003-second victory, the closest in Atlanta Motor Speedway history. It also was the closest finish at a 1.5-mile track and the third closest in the NASCAR Cup Series since the inception of electronic scoring in 1993.

The race also produced 14 different leaders, making it the fifth straight race with a dozen or more different leaders at Atlanta. There also were 110 green flag passes for the lead, the second most all-time at Atlanta and on a 1.5-mile track. The record is 141 at Atlanta in March 2022.

“It was so damn close!” Suarez said immediately after his first victory this season and the second of his career. “It was good racing. Ryan Blaney there, Kyle Busch, Austin Cindric also was doing a great job giving pushes. In the back straightaway he (Cindric) didn’t push me because he knew I was going to fuck his teammate.”

NASCAR Cup champion Blaney said there was nothing he could have done differently at the finish line to have changed the outcome.

“I thought I laid back enough in (turns) one and two to not let both lanes get that big of a run,” Blaney said. “I did that like the three laps before the end and I was able to manage it kind of fairly well, and they just got both lanes shoving super hard. I just chose the bottom, and it was the safest place to be.”

Even though Blaney lost the race by inches, he still described it as a “cool finish.”

“That’s always a good time when we can do that, race clean, three-wide finish to the end,” Blaney said. “I can’t complain. I’ve won them by very, very little, too, so I can’t complain too much when I lose them by that much.”

Busch came from a lap down to challenge for the victory in the middle lane of the three-wide dash to the checkered flag.

“Typically, whoever is behind getting into (turn) three prevails at the start-finish line with the side draft,” Busch said. “I think I was second to the 12 (Blaney) right there, and the 99 (Suarez) was the furthest back. He made the ground back up with the side draft and stuff.”

Busch said he and fellow Chevrolet driver Suarez were helping each other before the last lap.

“Shows that when you do have friends and you can make alliances that they do seem to work, and that was a good part of today,” Busch said.

NASCAR Cup Series Race

Ambetter Health 400

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Sunday’s Results

1. (23) Daniel Suárez, Chevrolet, 260.

2. (6) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 260.

3. (3) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 260.

4. (8) Austin Cindric, Ford, 260.

5. (18) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 260.

6. (27) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 260.

7. (21) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 260.

8. (1) Michael McDowell, Ford, 260.

9. (7) Chris Buescher, Ford, 260.

10. (25) Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 260.

11. (16) Harrison Burton, Ford, 260.

12. (12) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 260.

13. (32) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 260.

14. (33) Kaz Grala #, Ford, 260.

15. (28) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 260.

16. (20) Ryan Preece, Ford, 260.

17. (11) William Byron, Chevrolet, 260.

18. (26) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 260.

19. (35) Carson Hocevar #, Chevrolet, 260.

20. (31) Justin Haley, Ford, 260.

21. (34) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 260.

22. (10) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 260.

23. (13) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 259.

24. (36) BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 257.

25. (37) Erik Jones, Toyota, 256.

26. (4) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 256.

27. (17) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 255.

28. (2) Joey Logano, Ford, 252.

29. (14) Josh Berry #, Ford, Accident, 250.

30. (19) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 243.

31. (9) Chase Briscoe, Ford, Accident, 239.

32. (5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Accident, 222.

33. (24) Brad Keselowski, Ford, Accident, 218.

34. (22) Christopher Bell, Toyota, Accident, 148.

35. (29) Zane Smith #, Chevrolet, DVP, 75.

36. (15) Noah Gragson, Ford, Accident, 66.

37. (30) Josh Williams(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 2.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 115.398 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 28 Mins, 11 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.003 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 10 for 65 laps.

Lead Changes: 48 among 14 drivers.

Lap Leaders: M. McDowell 0;K. Busch 1-10;K. Larson 11;K. Busch 12-15;K. Larson 16;K. Busch 17-20;K. Larson 21-22;R. Blaney 23;K. Larson 24;R. Blaney 25-33;K. Busch 34-40;M. McDowell 41;K. Busch 42-43;M. McDowell 44-50;R. Blaney 51;M. McDowell 52-63;T. Gilliland 64-98;J. Logano 99-102;T. Gilliland 103;J. Logano 104-112;C. Buescher 113;J. Logano 114-127;K. Larson 128-131;B. Keselowski 132;K. Larson 133-134;R. Stenhouse Jr. 135;B. Wallace 136-138;A. Cindric 139-165;T. Gilliland 166-169;B. Keselowski 170;T. Gilliland 171-182;M. Truex Jr. 183-184;T. Gilliland 185-186;M. Truex Jr. 187-188;T. Gilliland 189-192;K. Larson 193-198;M. Truex Jr. 199-201;M. McDowell 202-206;M. Truex Jr. 207;M. McDowell 208-209;M. Truex Jr. 210;A. Cindric 211-215;D. Hamlin 216-230;R. Blaney 231-232;K. Busch 233;R. Blaney 234-247;D. Suárez 248-255;R. Blaney 256-259;D. Suárez 260.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Todd Gilliland 6 times for 58 laps; Austin Cindric 2 times for 32 laps; Ryan Blaney 6 times for 31 laps; Kyle Busch 6 times for 28 laps; Michael McDowell 5 times for 27 laps; Joey Logano 3 times for 27 laps; Kyle Larson 7 times for 17 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 15 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 5 times for 9 laps; Daniel Suárez 2 times for 9 laps; Bubba Wallace 1 time for 3 laps; Brad Keselowski 2 times for 2 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 1 lap; Chris Buescher 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 34,12,1,5,8,19,47,23,24,38

Stage #2 Top Ten: 2,5,12,99,19,38,6,21,14,9

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at, 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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