HAMPTON, Ga. - Defending NASCAR Cup Series Champion Ryan Blaney led at the white flag, but Daniel Suarez eked out a win in the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, in a remarkable three-wide photo finish. 

Suarez trailed both Kyle Busch and Blaney heading into the final corner, but prevailed in the ensuing drag race to earn his second Cup Series victory by just .003 seconds. Busch finished just .007 seconds behind the leader in third. It’s the third closest finish in the series’ history. 

And it all happened after the Trackhouse Racing No. 99 driver was involved in a massive pileup in the race’s opening laps. On Lap 2, a wreck in Turn 1 collected 16 cars, a track record for a single incident. 

“We wrecked on Lap 2 and the team did an amazing job making repairs,” Suarez said. “We are lucky honestly that the car was not that messed up. It was a little messed up but not a lot. So the team did an amazing job making repairs, making adjustments.” 

Kaulig Racing No. 16 driver Josh Williams was knocked out of the race and several others were put out of contention by the damage. 

The chaotic beginning of the race was perhaps foreshadowing the electric end. Chris Buescher spun in Turn 4 on Lap 31. Later in the stage, Denny Hamlin was sent sliding through the grass on the frontstretch in his No. 11 Toyota. 

After starting the weekend with earning his first career pole position, Michael McDowell won Stage 1, the third stage victory of his career. 

Unlike the opening stage, Stage 2 was run nearly entirely caution-free. McDowell’s day would take a turn as he attempted to enter Pit road in turn 3. The 39-year-old Front Row Motorsports driver locked up his brakes, colliding with Daytona 500 winner William Byron. Despite the incident, the yellow flag did not fly. Even after the damage, McDowell would cycle back into the top 10, finishing eighth. 

Ford drivers dominated much of the second stage, as Austin Cindric ran in close quarters with his team Penske teammates Blaney and Joey Logano to earn the Stage 2 victory. 

The race featured 14 different leaders and 48 different leaders. Suarez led just nine laps — but they came at the right time. The 32-year-old seized the top spot for the first time with just 12 to go. On the final lap, he built enough momentum to grab his second victory after a winless 2023.

Suarez has taken a unique route to the sport’s top level, Moving to the United States from his native Mexico to pursue his racing dreams. Suarez reflected on his journey following the race.

It’s very special, man. It’s very special,” Suarez said.  “Especially because for a young kid coming from México without speaking English, without friends, without understanding the culture, a lot of people don’t really understand. You really have to come from a different place to understand what I had to go through to be able to get here.”

Blaney commended his competitors on pit road post-race after coming up inches short. 

"Happy for Daniel. That was cool to see. Fun racing with Kyle. 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,” Blaney said.” 

The Cup Series heads west next weekend to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.