Could 2019 be the year of improvement for Chip Ganassi Racing?
Busch, who started the race eighth, placed third, the best finish for the No. 1 team since the Charlotte ROVAL (second) last October, and only their 12th since the end of the 2015 season. This accomplishment is exactly what Ganassi could’ve hoped for when he hired the 2004 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion in December in quick fashion.
Not to forget that the run is a big momentum boost for Busch, who shows his ability since leaving Stewart-Haas Racing. While CGR hasn’t been at the level of SHR, the early success could pave the way to continue to establish themselves as a bigger threat moving forward into the season.
Then there is Larson, whose 12th place finish does not represent the kind of day he had.
For the majority of the event, the 26-year-old proved to the class of the field, leading a race-high 142 laps before a costly speeding penalty put him in a hole he couldn’t get out of.
Now the lack of capitalization on such a dominant day will be understandably frustrating for the team, but this run is ultimately a positive.
Let’s make it clear; the No. 42 was not a dominant force last year. While there were some high moments, this team’s season was ultimately forgettable, with zero wins, and an early playoff exit, a disappointment magnified by their four victories in 2017.
However, if Larson and company can continue to be a force, week in and out, and avoid the mistakes that keep them from solidifying their results, they could very well be on their way to another successful year.
The point being, Atlanta proved CGR can hang with the top teams of the sport. Now even if they are unable to build on this in the future, after all the disappointment and changes to the team recently, a day like this is one they needed to start this year. The progression of this organization will be something to watch in the coming weeks as the season continues on in its early stages.
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