Thursday, March 4, 2010
Atlanta Driver's Chassis Selections: Kobalt Tools 500
1. Kevin Harvick: Won the 2001 race in first track start; Finished fourth and second, respectively, in 2009; Second-best finishing average (6.5) in four starts with the COT; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 288) that finished second at Auto Club two weeks ago.
2. Clint Bowyer: Has finished sixth in last three spring races; 15.6 average finish in eight starts; Will debut chassis No. 298 in the Kobalt Tools 500.
3. Mark Martin: Won the pole in first track start with Hendrick Motorsports last March; Finished 31st in that event after sustaining a flat right-rear tire; Finished fifth last fall for 14th top 10 in 48 starts; Two wins came with Roush Racing in 1991 and 1994; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 500) that won the pole and finished second at Indianapolis last summer; Tested during a Goodyear tire test in January.
4. Matt Kenseth: Finished 12th in both races in 2009; Previous five starts resulted in finishes of eighth or better; Sixth-best driver rating over the past 10 races.
5. Jimmie Johnson: Three-time winner; Last win came in the 2007 fall race after leading eight laps; Has led 402 laps and recorded a 10.7 average finish in 17 starts; Best driver rating over the past 10 races; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 558) that won from the pole at Charlotte last fall.
6. Greg Biffle: Coming off eighth top 10 in 14 starts with an eighth-place finish last fall; Best finish (third) came in the 2005 spring race; Finished 34th in this event last year after the team missed the setup; Seventh-best driver rating over the past 10 races; Will be back in the same car (chassis No. 546) that last raced at Phoenix in 2009.
8. Joey Logano: 26.0 average finish in two starts; Will look for first Atlanta top 10 in the same car (chassis No. 262) that finished fifth at Auto Club.
9. David Reutimann: Coming off first top 10 in five starts with a fourth-place finish last fall; Did score the fourth-best average finish (11.8) on 1.5-mile tracks in 2009.
10. Carl Edwards: Scored his third win in the 2008 fall race; Has combined to lead 159 laps in the last four races; Has finished seventh or better in eight of his 11 starts; Second-best driver rating over the past 10 races; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 639) that finished in the top 10 on two 1.5-mile tracks in 2009, Texas and Kansas; Tested during a Goodyear tire test in January.
11. Tony Stewart: Finished eighth and 11th, respectively, in first track starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Posted two wins and 11 top 10s in previous 20 starts with Joe Gibbs Racing; 9.5 average finish in four starts with the COT; Fifth-best driver rating over the past 10 races; Will be driving the same car (chassis No. 511) that last finished fifth at Auto Club in the fall.
13. Jeff Gordon: Four-time winner with last win coming in 2003; Has finished ninth or better in last five races; Finished second in this event last year; Third-best driver rating over the past 10 races; Posted the best average finish on 1.5-mile tracks in 2009; Will debut a new chassis (No. 581) in the Kobalt Tools 500.
14. Jamie McMurray: 20.3 average finish in 15 starts; Best finish (sixth) came in the 2005 fall race with Ganassi Racing; Will make first track start in a Chevrolet; Will debut a new chassis No. 905 in the Kobalt Tools 500.
15. Dale Earnhardt Jr: 10.5 average finish in four starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Posted one win and nine top 10s in previous 17 starts with Dale Earnhardt, Inc.; Fourth-best driver rating over the past 10 races; Will debut a new chassis (No. 584) in the Kobalt Tools 500.
16. Scott Speed: 31.0 average finish in three starts; Has yet to post a top-10 finish on a 1.5-mile track.
17. Paul Menard: 22.6 average finish in seven starts; Lone top 10 (seventh) came with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in this event in 2006; Has finished in the top 20 in his first three starts of 2010; Will pilot a car (chassis No. 594) that has been completely rebuilt after racing many times in 2009.
19. Kurt Busch: Won this event last year after leading 234 laps; Victory was third top 10 in eight starts with Penske Racing; Previous win and three top 10s came with Roush Racing; Eighth-best driver rating over the past 10 races; Will debut chassis No. 715 in the Kobalt Tools 500.
20. David Ragan: Returns to hometown track where he's made six Cup starts; Best finish, and only top 10, was eighth in the fall of 2008; Has an average finish of 24.8; Piloting chassis RK-615, which was last raced in Texas to a 17th-place finish.
21. Martin Truex Jr: Has two top-10 finishes in 10 starts; Best finish of eighth came in spring of 2007; Led a race high 135 laps in the fall 2007 race before crashing; Led 68 laps from the pole in last fall's race; Making track debut with MWR; Tested with the team during a Goodyear tire test in January.
22. Denny Hamlin: In nine starts, finished a best third in the fall of 2008; Has three top 10s, all in the fall; Has led four times for a total of 98 laps; Ninth best pre-race driver rating of 93.2; Has a 9.2 average finish in the four races with the COT; Unloading chassis JGR 253; Has one previous start with car - 10th-place finish at Michigan in 2009.
24. Elliott Sadler: Three top 10s in 22 starts all came while driving a Ford for Yates Racing; Best finish of sixth came in this race in 2003; Finished 20th and 21st in two starts with RPM last year; Piloting brand-new chassis No. 280.
25. Regan Smith: 34.0 average finish in two starts at Atlanta with DEI in 2008.
26. Juan Pablo Montoya: Posted his best finish in six Cup starts in last fall's Chase race; Led 31 laps en route to the third-place finish; Last year's result was his second top five, with the first coming in his track debut in 2007; Average finish is 20.8; Will drive chassis No. 819 which saw six starts in 2009; Car brought three top-five finishes including in fall Atlanta race.
27. AJ Allmendinger: 16.8 average finish in four starts; Hasn't finished in the top 10 but has finished 20th or better in each start; Bringing chassis No. 265; Last driven by the No. 44 team to a 34th-place finish at Martinsville last October; Making track debut in a Ford.
28. Sam Hornish Jr: Best finish is 24th in four starts; Tested during a Goodyear tire test in January.
29. Travis Kvapil: 32.3 average finish in seven starts; Finished a best 23rd in the fall of 2008.
30. Brad Keselowski: Making Cup debut at track; Has three Nationwide starts with one top five and two top 10s; Bringing a new chassis (PRS-710) to Kobalt Tools 500 weekend.