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Qualifying report
NASCAR Cup Atlanta II

Atlanta Cup qualifying canceled, Chase Elliott on pole

Chase Elliott will lead the field in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series at his hometown track, Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro

Persistent rain showers and lightning forced NASCAR to cancel Saturday’s scheduled qualifying session at Atlanta and the lineup was set per the rulebook.

Elliott, the current series points leader, will start from the pole, followed by Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, last weekend’s winner Tyler Reddick and rookie Austin Cindric.

There was no practice scheduled this weekend at Atlanta, so Sunday’s race (3 p.m. ET, USA Network) will be the first laps on track for the 36-car field.

This will be the third time this season Elliott, a native of Dawsonville, Ga., has started up front. He won the pole at Martinsville, Va., earlier year and last weekend at Road America.

“This weekend’s race will be a lot like the first one. I think the difference will be teams now have had a few months to kind of dial in and understand exactly what’s going on underneath the car,” Elliott, 26, said.

“I think all the cars are just going to drive better and typically when that happens, the aggression level will increase and people are going to be more apt to put themselves in compromised situations throughout the event.

“There were a lot of things going on to start the year and I think a lot of people were just trying to survive. This time everyone is going to be a little bit more comfortable, so decision making will be a little more questionable for a lot of the field I would say.”

Prior to the start of the season, Atlanta underwent a big overhaul – the 1.54-mile track was repaved and the banking increased from 24 to 28 degrees in the corners. In addition, the track width deceased from 55 feet to 40 feet in the corners.

The new surface combined with the higher banking produced racing more like that seen at Daytona and Talladega than what typically transpired intermediate tracks. The March Atlanta race, won by William Byron, featured 46 lead changes among 20 different drivers – both track records.

Elliott started sixth in the race, led 29 laps and finished sixth.

Completing Sunday’s top-10 starting lineup: Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suarez, Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick.

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