Friday, August 31, 2012

Atlanta Practice Notes: Kenseth Fastest in Final Session, Hamlin Still Strongest

Johnson and Junior not sharp in final practice (Getty)
By Micah Roberts

Matt Kenseth was fastest in Saturday’s final practice session in preparation for Sunday night’s Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Kenseth’s lap of 180.863 mph was laid down early in the 50-minute session, continuing what has been a great day of practice. In Saturday’s early session Kenseth was second fastest.

Jeff Gordon was second fastest (180.193) and has to be brimming with hope that his final practice leads to his sixth Atlanta win, but more importantly, getting his second win of the season that will virtually guarantee himself a spot in the Chase. Gordon is currently 16-points behind Kyle Busch in the Chase for the 12th and final position. Both drivers have one win a piece with two races to go. Next week at Richmond, Kyle will be one of the favorites to win.

Denny Hamlin had the third fastest lap (179.959) and looks to have one of the strongest cars at the track this weekend. His car on the long runs has been a notch above everyone else.

Kyle Busch came in fourth on the charts (179.837), but didn’t run many laps in the session due to slapping the wall. No back-up car was needed as the crew banged it back into shape. 15 laps was the smallest amount run among the drivers who actually are planning to race on Sunday. He’s got Gordon breathing down his neck in the Chase, but looks to have some speed that might make him a contender. Based on how well he ran on Atlanta’s sister track at Charlotte in May, he figures to be in the mix late competing for the win.

Greg Biffle continued his strong weekend run with the fifth fastest lap at 179.481 mph. In the day's earlier session Biffle was the fastest.

Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr, Mark Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top-10.

A few notable drivers that finished 20th or worse in the session were Dale Earnhardt Jr (20th), Jimmie Johnson (21st) and Kasey Kahne (28th).

28 drivers ran 10-consecutive laps or more with Jeff Gordon having the best average. Hamlin, Keselowski and Kenseth were next in the category.

Kurt Busch ran the most laps (50) followed by Jeff Burton (49) and Truex Jr. (48).

Since Danica Patrick is running this race, I suppose I’ll mention she ran 30 laps with the 38th fastest, or fifth slowest lap, among the 42 drivers that took a lap.

Top-5 Atlanta Practice 3 Speeds:
1) Matt Kenseth 180.863
2) Jeff Gordon 180.193
3) Denny Hamlin 179.959
4) Kyle Busch 179.837
5) Greg Biffle 181.005

Atlanta Practice 3 Speeds


Biffle Fastest in Second Session, Hamlin Strongest Overall

By Micah Roberts

Biffle won on sister track at Texas (Getty)
Greg Biffle was fastest in Saturday’s early practice session at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the second of three sessions run on the weekend in preparation for Sunday’s Advocare 500. Biffle laid down his fast lap of 181.005 mph early in the 55-minute session and will be looking to carry the momentum over to his first career win on the high-banked 1.5-mile track.

Sister tracks like Las Vegas, Texas and Charlotte always serve as a good barometer for Atlanta and Biffle has been outstanding on all of them this season. He finished third in Las Vegas, fourth in Charlotte and captured one of his two wins on the season at Texas. Based on being fast today, chances are he’s in store for at least another top-5 finish Sunday.

Matt Kenseth was second fastest in the session with a lap of 180.733 mph. Like his teammate Biffle, Kenseth has never won at Atlanta, but has always fared well with eight top-5 finishes, including a career best runner-up finish in 2010.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. struggled in Friday’s practice and qualifying, but still managed to run the third fastest lap (179.901) in this session. Despite the quality single lap speed, Junior was not happy with the way his car was handling. His only win at Atlanta came in 2004 and he’s finished outside the top-10 in his last six starts there. The car he’s running this week won the Sprint Cup showdown at Charlotte in May.

Martin Truex Jr. followed up his top practice speeds from yesterday while in qualifying trim to gaining the fourth fastest lap (179.592) in race trim during today’s early session. Right behind him was MWR teammate Clint Bowyer in a brand new chassis with the fourth fastest lap (178.966).

Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-10 speeds from the early session.

Of all the drivers, Denny Hamlin looked to have had the best practice overall. Hamlin not only had the fastest average speeds during his 26 laps run, but he also was fastest in five and 10-consecutive lap averages. Hamlin has never won at Atlanta and has a career best of third-place in 2008.

17 drivers ran at least 10-consecutive laps. Following Hamlin with the top averages were Kenseth, Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose.

Keselowski ran the most laps of the session (41) followed by Kenseth (40).

The final practice session is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. (ET).

Top-5 Atlanta Practice 2 Speeds:
1) Greg Biffle 181.005 mph
2) Matt Kenseth 180.733
3) Dale Earnhardt Jr. 179.901
4) Martin Truex Jr. 179.592
5) Clint Bowyer 178.966

Atlanta Practice 2 Speeds

Truex Jr. Fastest in Friday's Session

Michael Waltrip and Martin Truex Jr. pose after signing deal Friday (Getty)
Fresh off of getting a new three-year contract extension for a reported $16 million, Martin Truex Jr. laid down the fastest lap in Friday’s lone practice session at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The fast lap at 185.220 mph allows Truex Jr. to qualify last tonight, while also eliminating rumor talks of NASCAR's silly season.

Kyle Busch was second fastest with a lap of 184.831 mph followed by Tony Stewart (184.253), Brad Keselowski (183.631) and Kasey Kahne (183.613).

Truex Jr. only ran three laps during the session and felt they were dialed in right away in their qualifying set-up with no more laps needed.

Kurt Busch ran the most laps (27) and 11 other drivers ran at least 20 laps.

Three drivers ran 10-consecutive laps or more with Tony Stewart showing the best average times among the small sampling.

Friday’s 90-minute practice session was the first of three to be run this weekend before Sunday night’s Advocare 500. Two sessions will run Saturday that should give us a little more data to work with.

Atlanta Practice 1 Speeds  

Starting Lineup: Stewart captures first pole of 2012

TONY STEWART ON BEING HAPPY AFTER FIRST PRACTICE WITH THIRD BEST TIME: “Yeah, I’m pretty excited especially when that was in racetrim. It wasn’t a qualifying run; our qualifying run was slower than that. I’m pretty happy with the way it’s taking off.”

TONY STEWART ON HOW HE AND MATT KENSETH PATCHED THINGS UP: “Yeah, we are fine. It’s like we mentioned earlier in the week, we have too much to do the last 10 weeks to be worrying about each other. It’s just like we always said there are 43 people out there and they are not always going to agree on the track at the same time. The big thing is getting it done and over with now.”
Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth talking during Friday's practice. Apparently, things are all patched up. (Getty)  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2012 Atlanta Advocare 500 Preview: Gordon a Strong Contender to Win

By Micah Roberts

Coca-Cola 600 a good starting point to handicapping (Getty)
Two races remain in the Race to the Chase as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Atlanta‘s 1.5-mile high banked speedway. Once a staple of the NASCAR nation with two annual races since 1960, this will be the second year in a row that Atlanta has only one race.

Even though we haven't seen any action on the track this year, we still have lots of data to use in helping us find out who might be the best candidates to win this week.

We can use the results at Atlanta’s sister tracks like Las Vegas, Texas and Charlotte. We can also use a recent race like Michigan from two weeks ago just because of needing big time horsepower to get around the track. However, the most similar of them all is Charlotte. The last race run at Charlotte was on May 27 won by Kasey Kahne.

Kahne’s Hendrick teammates all had a successful night as all four finished 11th or better. The Gibbs duo of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch finished second and third, respectively, and all three Roush cars finished in the top-10.

Kahne looks to be comfortably set in the Chase with his two wins on the season -- sitting in 11th-place, but after that we have a mad scramble for the 12th and final position. Kyle Busch currently leads the drivers with one win and would make the Chase if it started today. But only 16 points separates Busch from Jeff Gordon, 19 points from Ryan Newman and 28 points from Marcos Ambrose.

Carl Edwards could top them all if he could get a win this week or next week at Richmond. He’s five points ahead of Busch, but doesn’t have any wins on the season which is the criteria required to grab the final two Chase positions. Edwards hasn’t won since last season in Las Vegas.

It should be interesting to see how these drivers bunched together for the final position approach the next two races. A win is obviously what they’ll all try to do, but they also have to point-race as well and watch what each other does while hoping to avoid being involved in a COSTLY wreck like Newman had happen to him last week at Bristol.

Because of their success at Charlotte in May, it would seem like Busch and Gordon would have an edge over the other contenders for the final position. Kyle Busch has a 2008 Atlanta win on his resume while Jeff Gordon’s Cup career started in Atlanta.

It was 20 years ago that Gordon made his Cup debut in Atlanta, a race that we also said farewell to Richard Petty who was making his final start.

“I don’t remember too much about the weekend, but I do remember Richard walking through the garage with a huge number of fans with him,” said Gordon, who won his 85th career Cup race at Atlanta last year. “And he gave us money clips with our starting position during the driver’s meeting – something I still have to this day.

“Other than that, not that memorable of a race for me.”

Gordon has five Atlanta wins overall, but all were in the day. This Sunday will be a night race creating a different set of Atlanta circumstances for the teams when preparing for the conditions.

“I expect the track to be a lot faster at night,” said Gordon. “But I think we will still be able to race high, low and everywhere in between.

“I think one of the reasons so many drivers and teams love this place is the track has a lot of grip, a lot of banking and it is a very fast race track – especially when looking at the qualifying speeds. It’s very fast during the race but it has a lot of fall off, so tire wear is significant and the balance of the car changes throughout a run.”

In a side-note to the set-up and using Charlotte as a comparison, the last 300 miles during the Coca-Cola 600 were run almost exclusively at night.

Jimmie Johnson has three Atlanta wins over his career, but none since 2007. He finished runner-up to Gordon last season. This week he'll be using a chassis that has ran three races this season with a best finish of second-place at Texas.

Tony Stewart has been one of the best at Atlanta over his career with three wins, his last coming in 2010.

Despite not having any career wins at Atlanta, we should be able to expect Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth to run well. Their Roush teammate, Carl Edwards, has three wins there over his career, but none since 2008.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. started his Atlanta career off strong and was always a candidate to win there until moving to Hendrick Motorsports. He had one win and eight top-five finishes in his first 19 starts, but hasn’t cracked the top-10 since in his last six starts. We’ve obviously seen a transition with his team this year and should see him be one of the contenders with his teammates.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:
1) #24 Jeff Gordon (10/1)
2) #48 Jimmie Johnson (6/1)
3) #18 Kyle Busch (8/1)
4) #14 Tony Stewart (10/1)
5) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr (10/1)    

Driver Notes & Quotes for 2012 Atlanta Advocare 500

Atlanta should be faster racing at night on Sunday (Getty)
BRAD KESELOWSKI ON ATLANTA: “I like the fact that Atlanta is a very slick racetrack. You come in to put tires on and you are almost three seconds a lap faster. That’s huge! A guy that will come in and pit one lap earlier than you do will gain almost half a straightaway on you. That puts pit strategy into focus. It’s just a fun place to race. I’ve had a lot of success running the high line at Atlanta. I don’t really think of myself as a driver that prefers the top, but I’ll definitely search around to see where my Miller Lite Dodge is the fastest. That’s why we love racing at Atlanta. You can go wherever your car is working the best.

“For us right now, it’s all about going for wins. We can take some chances and experiment a bit knowing that we are pretty safe as far as making the Chase. We want to go in with the most wins, or at least tied for the most wins. Every point is critical. You look at last year, Tony (Stewart) and Carl (Edwards) tied in points after Homestead. That’s how close it can be so we want all the points we can get before the Chase starts.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON ATLANTA: “It does. This car especially slides a lot so the tire and the surface with all the sliding it wears the tires out quickly. I typically do well on those types of tracks. It has taken us a little time to sort out the COT (Car of Tomorrow) there and I feel like I have been a lot more competitive over the last trip or two. I’m excited to go back I think we will have a good shot at winning. It’s a unique track that challenges you honestly every foot around the race track.”

JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 714 serves as the primary for Johnson at Atlanta. This car has raced three times in 2012, including a runner-up finish at Texas. Chassis No. 669 serves as the backup.

DALE EARNHARDT, JR. ON ATLANTA: “I really like racing at Atlanta. It’s a fun race track; it’s incredibly fast, and we’ve run well there. The track is wide so you can find a groove that works for you. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do down there.”

KEVIN HARVICK ON ATLANTA: “Atlanta (Motor Speedway) has been a pretty good track for the Rheem team. We had a runner-up finish recently, where we dominated the race all day. It came down to a late-race restart and we lost it in the last five or six laps. We did a tire test at the track several years ago, found some things that worked from the driver side and it’s been a good track for us ever since.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 378 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s AdvoCare 500. Harvick drove this Chevrolet at Kansas Speedway in April and Michigan International Speedway in June finishing sixth and 10th, respectively. This chassis was also used in competition twice during the 2011 season when Harvick captured a sixth-place finish at Kansas Speedway in October and a second-place finish Chicagoland Speedway in September.

KASEY KAHNE ON ATLANTA: “Atlanta is my favorite track on the circuit. It’s wide and fast, so we can race a lot of different lines. We have a good history here, and I expect a good weekend with a Hendrick Motorsports car under me.”

JEFF GORDON ON ATLANTA: “I expect the track to be a lot faster at night, but I think we will still be able to race high, low and everywhere in between. I think one of the reasons so many drivers and teams love this place is the track has a lot of grip, a lot of banking and it is a very fast race track – especially when looking at the qualifying speeds. It’s very fast during the race but it has a lot of fall off, so tire wear is significant and the balance of the car changes throughout a run.”

RYAN NEWMAN ON ATLANTA: “Atlanta is fast, especially when the conditions are right. You have to hit your marks. It’s bumpy enough that those bumps can spit you right out. Getting into turn one and the middle of three and four, you’ve got catch everything just right. It’s kind of like surfing or wakeboarding – you’ve got to catch the wave’s right and, obviously, put the car in the right spot to do the right things with the gas and the steering wheel. I think it’s the combination of the tire grip we have, initially, and it’s a wide-open racetrack. There’s plenty of room to race there. It’s one of the best racetracks we go to for three- and four-wide racing in the corners. With Atlanta being a one-off race, it has a different feel to it now and a different feel to it than a lot of tracks we go to. But, in the end, we are there to do the same job, and that’s to win.”

PAUL MENARD ON ATLANTA: “Atlanta (Motor Speedway) is one of my favorite tracks. It races really well and it’s a lot of fun, especially with it being a night race now. The race track itself with the old pavement that is hard on tires makes it a lot of fun. It’s kind of a throw-back track that we all enjoy going to.”

JAMIE MCMURRAY ON ATLANTA: “I hope that we don’t have to dodge rain drops all weekend. It sounds like we may have some of the outskirts of Isaac while we are in Atlanta. First and foremost though, I just hope that all of the people in the storm’s path are safe. Atlanta is a really fast track and our guys have been working hard on our intermediate track program, so I hope that we can see some of the results of that effort this weekend. Atlanta is also a really busy weekend for me with several obligations with Coca-Cola, being based right there. We will get meet with a lot of their customers and executives over the weekend. One of the really cool things that I will get to do this weekend is on Friday with Chevrolet when we meet with several breast cancer survivors and give them the thrill of a ride-along around the track. I met a lot of these women last year for this event and they are so excited to be there and we really had a fun time together.”

McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats team will bring Chassis #1109 to Atlanta. This will be the first race for this chassis in 2012.

JEFF BURTON ON ATLANTA: “Atlanta Motor Speedway is so slick. It is the slickest race track in the world. It reminds me so much of the old Darlington Raceway. It’s just so rough and slick, an unbelievably difficult track. You would think that on those kinds of conditions that the racing would get away, but it doesn’t. There always seems to be good finishes there.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON ATLANTA: “Atlanta is a fun track. It’s one of the tracks I’d enjoy racing there twice a year like we did before. It’s a cool place that has no grip. It is probably the oldest asphalt we go to, or it feels like the oldest. To tell you the truth, it’s a fast track and a place you can run the high groove at. The Target team has had some pretty good results there so I’m looking forward to going back.”

MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Chris “Shine” Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will bring Chassis #1111 to Atlanta this weekend. This Chassis made its debut this season in Indianapolis where Montoya started 12th, and ultimately finished 21st.

REGAN SMITH ON ATLANTA: “This will be the first 1.5-mile track with Todd Berrier as our crew chief. I’ve been upbeat about our potential and going to Atlanta hasn’t changed my optimism. Our performance has picked up considerably and we would like to leave Atlanta with a top-10 or top-five finish. Tire management and tire strategy will be important in Atlanta since the track surface there is a little rougher. As I’ve been saying each week, if we can avoid accidents and mistakes, we should then be in good position at the checkered flag.”

KURT BUSCH ON ATLANTA: “I think one of the biggest things that can be tough at Atlanta is getting your car to handle in turns three and four. It’s very specific. You really need the car to hook at the bottom of three and four, particularly when you’re on fresh tires. If you have a car that can run the bottom close to wide open in three and four, then that’s when you can do to separate yourself to be a race-winning contender.”

BUSCH CHASSIS CHOICE: Sunday night’s AdvoCare 500 will be the third race of the 2012 season for this chassis. This chassis made its last appearance at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in June, when Busch picked up the ninth starting spot but had his day end prematurely due to an engine failure. It’s also the same car the team used at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in May, when Busch competed in the top-10 during the majority of the event before settling for a 21st-place finish due to a late-race spin. Prior to the 2012 season, the car was used as a road course car. Hendrick Motorsports built this chassis with a universal clip, which allows for greater adjustments with the geometric points on the chassis. As such, the team converted the car from a road-course car to an intermediate-track car for this season.

DANICA PATRICK ON ATLANTA: “I’ve heard lots of great things about Atlanta. It’s good racing. The tires definitely go off with the surface, and the line moves around a lot. I’ve heard a lot of really good things about it. For me it’s going to be a big weekend not only from the standpoint that there’s Cup and Nationwide, but it’s a big Coca-Cola weekend so I’ll be really busy. I think nothing is better than going to a new track and having lots of track time.”

It All Started for Jeff Gordon in Atlanta 20 Years Ago

Gordon captured his 85th career Cup win last year in Atlanta (Getty) 
HAMPTON, Ga. (August 27, 2012) - Hard to believe it has been 20 years. Well, almost.

On November 15, 1992, Jeff Gordon made his debut inNASCAR’s premier division at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet. Now, four championships, 86 victories and nearly 20 years later, Gordon returns to the site of his first start – a race marked by “The King” Richard Petty’s final start and a tight championship battle won by owner/driver Alan Kulwicki. The 21-year old mustached Gordon was merely a postscript that day, starting 21st and finishing 31st after being involved in anaccident.

“I don’t remember too much about the weekend, but I do remember Richard walking through the garage with a huge number of fans with him,” said Gordon, who will drive the No. 24 DuPont “Performance Coatings” Chevrolet in Sunday’s AdvoCare 500. “And he gave us money clips with our starting position during the driver’s meeting – something I still have to this day.

“Other than that, not that memorable of a race for me.”

One very memorable race here for the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion was last year’s event that was delayed until Tuesday. Gordon out-dueled Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson over the waning laps to capture his 85th career victory and move into sole possession of third on NASCAR’s all-time career wins list. But that event was run during the day while Sunday’s race is scheduled to occur at night.

“I expect the track to be a lot faster at night,” said Gordon, who has five wins, two poles, 15 top-fives and 24 top-10′s in 38 starts at the Georgia track. “But I think we will still be able to race high, low and everywhere in between.

“I think one of the reasons so many drivers and teams love this place is the track has a lot of grip, a lot of banking and it is a very fast race track – especially when looking at the qualifying speeds. It’s very fast during the race but it has a lot of fall off, so tire wear is significant and the balance of the car changes throughout a run.”

While there have been a lot of changes over the course of 20 years – competitors, manufacturers, car models, tracks, etc. – one constant has been Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports and DuPont.

“They took a chance on me, there is no doubt about that,” said Gordon. “But it turned into a great partnership.

“One that is approaching 20 years.”

- Performance PR Plus for DuPont Motorsports

Drivers Happy With Kansas Speedway Repave

A few fans showed up Tuesday at Kansas Speedway for testing (Getty)
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Aug. 28, 2012) – Several NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams took to the newly reconfigured Kansas Speedway today and the reviews are in – and they have been pretty positive as teams navigate the variable banking for the first time.

“I think they did a really nice job repaving,” said Matt Kenseth. “Drivers aren’t huge fans of repaves, especially being the first ones on the track, by this afternoon the cars were more comfortable on the track. I think the repave is awesome.”

Regan Smith agreed.

“We’ve seen quite a few of these this year already. They did a pretty good job with this one.”

For Dale Earnhardt Jr., the day was about getting some time on the track.

“It’s nice to get out on the track. It’s nice to see the track. I like this place,” said Earnhardt, Jr. “The banking will add speed to the race track and one and two definitely have more banking. This should be a fast little race track.”

Kenseth, who holds the track record of 180.856 mph set back in 2005, expects a new track record this fall.

“We’re already running, the last lap was 30.30 or something,” said Kenseth. “You know it’s going to be faster when everybody runs in qualifying runs. I expect it to be the high 28s in a qualifying run.”

The Goodyear Tire Test resumes tomorrow at 9 AM and is open and free to the public. Fans are asked to enter at Michigan Dr. off of Speedway Blvd. Due to another event setting up at Kansas Speedway, fans will only be able to enter at Gate D (closest to Turn 1) and sit in sections 169 and 171. Parking will be available in lots 5 and 6. Parking lots and gates will open at 8:30 AM. Sprint FanWalk will not be open.

Restroom facilities will be open. Concessions will not be available, however fans are permitted to bring in a 14x14x14-inch soft-sided cooler with their favorite food and beverages.

Tickets for the Oct. 21 Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the Oct. 20 Kansas Lottery 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and the Oct. 19 Kansas Lottery 98.9 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race are on sale now by calling 866.460.RACE (7223) or visiting Every season ticket comes with a Track Pass that provides you with access to the infield for the pre-race concert, driver introductions and much more!

Parking is always free at Kansas Speedway and fans can bring in one 14x14x14-inch soft-sided cooler with their favorite food and beverages.

- Kansas Speedway Press Release

Monday, August 27, 2012

LVH Super Book Odds to Win 2012 Advocare 500 at Atlanta

Jeff Gordon won at Atlanta last year; he's 12/1 this week (Getty)



FIELD 5000

Atlanta Advocare 500 Odds & Ends

At Atlanta Motor Speedway:
·         Originally called Atlanta International Raceway, the track was then a 1.5-mile paved speedway.
·         The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta was on July 31, 1960, won by Fireball Roberts from the pole.
·         The track was re-measured to 1.522 miles in the spring of 1970.
·         It was renamed Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1990.
·         The track layout was reversed and the track was re-configured to 1.54 miles between the two races in 1997.
·         There have been 104 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Atlanta Speedway, until 2010 there has been two races per year except 1961, which had three. This year marks the second season with only one event.
·         Fireball Roberts won the pole and race for the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race in 1960.
·         45 drivers have won a pole, led by Buddy Baker and Ryan Newman, each with seven.
·         Six of Newman’s seven poles came in consecutive races between March 2003 and October 2005.
·         42 drivers have won a race; 22 have won more than once.
·         Dale Earnhardt scored nine victories, more than any other driver. Cale Yarborough is second, with seven.
·         Bobby Labonte heads the list of active drivers with six victories. Labonte is tied with NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Richard Petty for third on the all-time win list at Atlanta.
·         The Wood Brothers have 12 victories, more than any organization. They last won there in 1993, with Morgan Shepherd. Hendrick Motorsports has 11 wins at Atlanta and could tie the Wood Brothers this weekend.
·         14 races have been won from the pole. The last to do so was Kasey Kahne in 2006. The last two races have been won from the fifth position.
·         60 races at Atlanta have been won from the first five starting positions.
·         Bobby Labonte won the 2001 fall race from the 39th starting position, the deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Atlanta.
·         Two drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Atlanta: Carl Edwards(3/20/2005) and Kevin Harvick (3/11/2001).
·         Youngest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Atlanta Motor Speedway winner: Kyle Busch (03/09/2008 – 22 years, 10 months, 7 days).
·         Oldest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Atlanta Motor Speedway winner: Morgan Shepherd (03/20/1993 – 51 years, 5 months, 8 days).
Atlanta Motor Speedway Data
Race #: 25 of 36 (09-02-12)
Track Size: 1.54-miles
Banking/Corners: 24 degrees
Banking/Straights: 5 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 2,332 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,800 feet
Race Length: 325 laps / 500.5 miles
Top 12 Driver Rating at Atlanta
Jimmie Johnson........................ 109.5
Jeff Gordon............................... 104.1
Tony Stewart............................ 102.3
Carl Edwards............................ 101.8
Denny Hamlin............................. 96.2
Matt Kenseth.............................. 96.2
Kurt Busch................................. 96.1
Dale Earnhardt Jr........................ 94.3
Greg Biffle.................................. 92.9
Kasey Kahne.............................. 91.0
Kyle Busch................................. 90.6
Martin Truex Jr............................ 88.9
Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2012 races (13 total) at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Qualifying/Race Data
2011 pole winner:
Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet (186.196 mph, 29.775 sec., 09-04-11)
2011 race winner:
Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet (124.623 mph, 4:00:58, 09-06-11)
Track qualifying record:
Geoffrey Bodine, Ford (197.478 mph, 28.074 sec., 11-15-97)
Track race record:
Bobby Labonte, Pontiac (159.904 mph, 3:07:48, 11/16/97)
NASCAR in Georgia
·         There have been 163 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Georgia.
Track Name
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Augusta International Raceway
Augusta International Speedway
Central City Speedway
Columbus Speedway
Hayloft Speedway
Jeffco Speedway
Lakewood Speedway
Middle Georgia Raceway
Oglethorpe Speedway
Savannah Speedway
Valdosta 75 Speedway
·         172 NASCAR national series drivers all-time have their home state recorded as Georgia.
·         There have been 14 race winners from Georgia in NASCAR’s three national series:
Bill Elliott
Tim Flock
Jack Smith
Fonty Flock
Bob Flock
Frank Mundy
Gober Sosebee
Harold Kite
Sam McQuagg
David Ragan
Jody Ridley
Reed Sorenson
Buckshot Jones
Ronald Cooper