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Daniel Suarez won the Ambetter 400 at Atlanta Sunday by a margin of just 0.003 seconds over Ryan Blaney, the third closest finish in NASCAR history. And Suarez and Blaney weren’t the only drivers gunning for the win. Kyle Busch split the two drivers heading into turn three on the final lap. The three drivers jockeyed through the final two turns and into the quad-oval, resulting in a three-wide, photo finish for the win.

The incredible last lap dash is how the race will be remembered, but the three-wide duel marked an appropriate end to what was one of the most entertaining races overall in recent years. Some Cup Series fans may deem a race “good” for an exciting finish, but the Atlanta NASCAR race was truly a great race throughout.

Atlanta’s reconfiguration has made it a hybrid 1.5-mile track/superspeedway, though drivers were continually on the edge in the pack.

“I hope that everyone at home and you guys were actually able to see how much movement our cars had,” Suarez said after the race. “We were not comfortable — I don’t think there were many cars going wide open besides the front row cars. Everyone was driving the cars. It was not easy, not easy at all. This racetrack is fairly new, and it already has some bumps, so it wasn’t easy. But it was great racing.”

Handling in the confines of pack racing led to continual jockeying for position throughout the field. There were several three- and four-wide battles, and not just in the mid-pack. Fourteen drivers led the race with 48 lead changes. Handling in the draft also ended the day of some top drivers. Brad Keselowski was battling up front in the third stage when he lost control, collecting Kyle Larson and Corey LaJoie. The wreck ended the day for Larson and Keselowski.

NASCAR driver Daniel Suarez celebrates Ambetter 400 win at Atlanta
Daniel Suarez | Todd Kirkland via Getty Images

There was also the excitement of “the big one,” occurring on just the second lap of the race. However, most cars involved battled back, including Suarez.

While there were plenty of wrecks, the final lap didn’t include one. That’s not something that can be said for many recent superspeedway races, including this year’s Daytona 500. Busch, Suarez and Blaney gunned hard for the win, three abreast, but without contact or taking one another out. There weren’t any crashed behind them, either.

The race also featured green flag pit stop sequences, made the more exciting by pit lane beginning, effectively, on the backstretch. Varying pit stop deltas and penalties during these stops further shook up the field.

The race also featured underdogs overperforming. Third-year driver Todd Gilliland appeared primed to compete for his first Cup Series win. He led the most laps during the race, 58, before getting caught up in a wreck with under 20 laps to go. His Front Row Motorsports teammate Michael McDowell led 27 laps from the pole. He spun while entering pit lane in the second stage and rallied back to finish 8th.

Of course, it’s always entertaining when the winner is well-liked. Suarez certainly falls into that camp. The Mexican driver is a fan favorite. He certainly has the respect of the paddock, evidenced by several of his competitors congratulating following the win. It is Suarez’s second Cup Series victory, his first since winning at Sonoma in 2022.

The three-wide photo finish and 0.003-second margin of victory will be replayed for decades to come, but perhaps the more important figure is three hours and 28 minutes. That was the length of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta, and just about all that time was incredibly entertaining.