Saturday, August 30, 2014

Final Atlanta Practice Notes: Gordon driver to beat, Gibbs cars have speed

Junior and Gordon both figure to be very good Sunday at Atlanta
Jeff Gordon wasn't fastest in any of the three Atlanta practice sessions run between Friday and Saturday, and he only qualified ninth, but the five-time Atlanta winner comes into Sunday night’s Oral-B USA 500 as the driver to beat.

So while Joey Logano was fastest in Saturday’s early practice session and Matt Kenseth was tops during happy hour, neither of those drivers compare to the show Gordon put on in both of those sessions. Let’s just say that Gordon’s car takes a few laps to get going, and while other fast cars on single laps get slower after putting a few laps on their tires, Gordon’s car doesn’t show the same type of drop-off.

Gordon had the best 10-consecutive lap average in both of Saturday’s sessions and during happy hour he was fastest among all those that ran five, 10 and 15-consecutive laps. The Atlanta fuel window will have considerably more laps than what Gordon showed in such a small sample size, but it’s as good as we’ve got to try and determine who will be strongest near the end of those runs. It's one of the more impressive showings of any driver during practices on the 1.5s.

So far this season on the 1.5-mile tracks, looking at the 10-consecutive lap average has been the best piece of data to review in determining who were the best candidates to win after practices. Last year was the same story with Joe Gibbs Racing winning seven of the 11 1.5-mile races. This season, it’s been all Penske Racing and Hendrick Motorsports combining to win all five of the 1.5s so far.

While Brad Keselowski has two of those 1.5 wins this season (Las Vegas, Kentucky), Gordon has been the most consistent as the only driver to finish ninth or better in all five of them, including a Kansas win.

So we’ve established -- or at least made the case -- that Gordon has the car to beat. He’s been the best on these type of tracks and he has more Atlanta wins than any other active driver in the series. How about we also mention a little Atlanta nostalgia such as winning his first career NASCAR race with a Busch series win in 1992 and then later that year he would make his Cup debut at Atlanta, the same race that Richard Petty started his final race. In 40 Cup starts at Atlanta, Gordon has led 1,297 laps.

Gordon will be using a chassis that has raced four times this season with finishes of 13th at Fontana, sixth at Michigan and seventh each at Charlotte and Darlington.

When I first looked at everything for this race, I looked no where else than the Penske and Hendrick cars with a close eye on the Stewart-Haas cars of Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. I think Tony Stewart can be added to the list as well, but my biggest surprise came on Saturday from what I saw out of Joe Gibbs Racing.

For being so good last season, it’s like they had to sell their 1.5-mile soul for the following year. The JGR cars won seven times on these track last season and don’t have any this year. A JGR driver has won at Atlanta the past two seasons. Matt Kenseth won seven times himself last year and doesn’t have any in 2014. Denny Hamlin’s only win of the season came at Talladega where almost anyone can win.

But on Saturday, they got my attention and now have to be considered legitimate candidates to win up there with the likes of Penske, Hendrick and SHR. Kenseth had the fastest lap in happy hour, but Hamlin’s performance was the most eye opening as he had speed on both short and long runs.

Hamlin, winner of the 2012 Atlanta race, had the fourth-fastest speed in the early session and was third fastest in happy hour. The only driver that had a better 10-consecutive lap average during happy hour was Gordon, which is some very good company.

If the Gibbs cars are on the mend on these tracks, this new Chase format that starts in two weeks becomes even more interesting and will make it harder than ever to pick the eventual winner.

Read More Here........Final Driver Ratings

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Atlanta Driver Chassis Selection: 2014 Oral-B USA 500

Not too many chassis' with stellar resume's going this week
#2-Brad Keselowski: will drive Primary Chassis PRS-922 at Atlanta, which is a brand new chassis. The Backup Chassis is PRS-908 which last was a backup at Michigan.

#3-Austin Dillon: will pilot Chassis No. 465 in the Oral-B USA 500. This is the same DOW Chevy that Dillon raced to a 16th-place finish at Kentucky in June, a 16th-place finish at Charlotte in May and a 21st-place finish at Texas in April. In one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2013, Dillon finished 19th.

#4-Kevin Harvick: will pilot Chassis No. 4-884 in Sunday night's Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Built new for 2014, Chassis 4-884 debuted in July at Indianapolis, where it started from the pole, led 12 laps and finished eighth.

#5-Kasey Kahne: Crew chief Kenny Francis has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-820 for Sunday night's race at Atlanta. Kahne has raced with this car three times so far this year. He drove it at the Fontana, California, oval in March and at Charlotte Motor Speedway's All-Star Race in May. Most recently, he raced this chassis to an eighth-place finish at Kentucky Speedway in June. Kahne has earned a total of two wins at Atlanta, which is tied for his second-best track in career wins -- he also has two wins at Pocono. In 2006, he started from the pole position, led 85 laps and crossed the finish line as the winner. Kahne's second victory at the 1.54-mile track happened in 2009, when he led a total of 60 laps. Also worth noting is that 14 of the 106 (13.2%) Sprint Cup Series races at Atlanta have been won from the pole position, with the most recent one being Kahne in 2006.

#10-Danica Patrick: will drive Chassis No. 10-838 was a backup car in March at Auto Club Speedway and then was used for the first time in April at Texas, where Patrick started 24th and finished 27th. She was running in the top-15 with the car in June at Pocono but cut a tire, crashed and finished 37th. Backup Chassis No. 10-828 was first used at Homestead in November 2013, when Patrick started 24th and finished 20th. It was then put to use in March at Las Vegas, where she started 22nd and finished 21st. The last time it was used was in late March at Auto Club, where she started 27th and finished 14th. It was a backup car earlier this month at Pocono, Michigan and Bristol.

#15-Clint Bowyer: Chassis No. 816 serves as the primary chassis for Bowyer at Atlanta. This is a new chassis. Chassis No. 804 serves as the back-up chassis and finished 12th at Darlington and 15th at Bristol earlier this year. In 13 starts at Atlanta Bowyer has no top-five and five top-10 finishes and completed 4,027 of 4,252 laps (94.7%) and has led 114 laps. Bowyer's average start 15.7 and average finish 19.8.

#16-Greg Biffle: will drive primary chassis RK-922 which last ran at Indy and finished 13th. The backup chassis is RK-879 which last ran Vegas and finished 22nd. Biffle has 19 Sprint Cup Series starts at Atlanta, earning three top-five and nine top-10 finishes. He has an average starting position of 13.1 and finishing position of 15.9. Ortho makes its debut on the #16 car this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and will appear on the car for two more races this season before becoming the anchor partner in 2015.

#17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Primary Chassis RK-914 is the same chassis that the Stenhouse Jr. raced at Dover where the #17 Fifth Third Bank team was battling for the lucky dog position, but was caught up in a wreck on lap 131 and was unable to repair the car, forcing Stenhouse to settle for a 41st-place finish. The backup chassis, RK- 877 last ran at New Hampshire and finished ninth. Last year Stenhouse Jr. earned his first career Sprint Cup pole at Atlanta. Stenhouse has one career Sprint Cup start at Atlanta finishing16th after overcoming being one lap down.

#22-Joey Logano: will drive Primary Chassis PRS-919 at Atlanta, which is a brand new chassis. The backup chassis is PRS-907 which last was a backup at Michigan.

#24-Jeff Gordon: crew chief Alan Gustafson has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 24-861 for this Sunday night's race at Atlanta. This chassis has been raced four times previously - all in 2014 - with finishes of sixth at the first Michigan race, seventh at Charlotte and Darlington and 13th at Fontana. Gordon leads active drivers with five wins, 16 top-five finishes, 26 top-10s and 1,297 laps led in 40 Cup starts at the 1.54-mile track.

#27-Paul Menard: and the #27 Duracell/Menards Chevrolet SS team will pilot chassis No. 454 during the 325-lap event at Atlanta. This #27 Chevy was utilized earlier this year at Las Vegas, Texas Motor, Charlotte, Michigan and Kentucky. The RCR driver has amassed two top-five finishes (Las Vegas, Michigan) and four top-10 finishes (Las Vegas, Texas, Charlotte and Michigan) with this chassis. Menard has 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at the 1.5-mile track. His best start of 16th came in 2013 and best finish of fifth came in March of 2010. Menard has one top-five finish and three top-10 finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He's completed 3,849 of 3,927 laps (98%) and led two laps.

#31-Ryan Newman: will drive chassis No. 441 in Sunday night's 500-mile event at Atlanta. This Caterpillar chassis was utilized earlier this season at Kentucky (Start: 7th / Finish: 3rd) and Dover (Start: 14th / Finish: 31st). In 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events at Atlanta, Newman owns seven pole awards, including sweeping six straight poles encompassing the 2003 to 2005 Sprint Cup seasons. He owns two top-five and seven top-10 finishes. His best result of fifth place came last season and at the spring 2004 event. Newman has an average start of eighth and average finish of 18th. He's led a total of 175 laps in competition. And in the Craftsman Trucks Series, he captured a victory in the fall 2008 race.

#33-Ty Dillon will pilot chassis No. 460 Sunday night in the Oral-B USA 500 for Circle Sport Racing. This was last raced earlier this season by Brian Scott at Auto Club Speedway. Dillon will be making his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday night. In 2012, Dillon won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race after qualifying on the pole and leading 40 laps at AMS. In addition to making his Sprint Cup Series debut this weekend, Dillon will pilot the #3 Yuengling Light Lager Chevrolet Camaro in the Nationwide Series race at AMS. When the green flag drops Sunday night at AMS, Dillon will be only the 10th driver this season to have driven in all three of NASCAR's top series. The Nationwide Series regular raced in the second annual Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Realtree, the world's leading camouflage designer, marketer and licensor, will be on the hood of the #33 Chevy. Rheem, a leading provider of heating, cooling and water heating products such as gas furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioners and indoor air quality products, will be featured on the #33 Chevy this weekend.

#41-Kurt Busch: will pilot Chassis No. 760 in Sunday's Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta. Chassis No. 760 made its first start of the 2014 season in May at Kansas, where Busch started sixth and ran as high as fourth before a loose-handling condition saw the #41 Chevy drop to 29th when the checkered flag waved. Most recently, Busch piloted Chassis No. 760 at Indianapolis, where Busch appeared at times to be on his way to recording a solid finish, but an ill-timed caution period following a scheduled green-flag pit stop saw the #41's forward progress halted and left with a less-than-desired 28th-place finish. Sunday's Oral-B USA 500 will mark Busch's 24th career Sprint Cup start at Atlanta. Busch has three wins, five top-fives and 10 top-10s at the 1.54-mile oval. Additionally, the 36-year-old driver has led 665 laps, has an average starting position of 16.3, an average finish of 16.6, and has completed 91.5 percent (6,796 of 7,425) of the laps he's contested there.

#48-Jimmie Johnson: Crew chief Chad Knaus has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-797 for this weekend's event in Atlanta. This chassis is the same Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevy SS with which Johnson finished ninth at Michigan two weeks ago. The backup car is Chassis No. 48-799, which last saw on-track action at Kansas Speedway, finishing ninth in May. In 22 starts at Atlanta, Johnson has recorded three wins, 11 top-five finishes and 13 top-10s. He has an average start of 8.6 and an average finish of 11.9. Johnson has led 440 laps around the 1.54-mile track.

#55-Brian Vickers: will drive primary chassis 815 which has not raced. Backup chassis is 801 which finished 13th at Las Vegas.

#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Crew chief Steve Letarte and the #88 National Guard team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-901. This is a brand new chassis that has not been raced. In 26 Cup starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has one win, two pole positions, eight top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. He has an average start of 15.9, and his average finish of 12.3 is his best at a track. He has completed 99.5 percent of all the laps he's attempted (8,359 of 8,400 total) there and has led 632 laps, his fourth-best at a track.

#99-Carl Edwards the #99 Subway Ford team will unload primary chassis RK-880 which was last run in 2014 at Kentucky, starting in the 14th spot and finishing 17th. The backup chassis RK-904 was last brought to Fall Bristol in 2014 as the back-up car. Edwards had his first Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series wins sweeping the weekend in 2005. He also won the second race there in 2005, sweeping the season. He won the fall race in 2008. Edwards has 16 Sprint Cup starts at the 1.5-mile track with an average start of 9.8 and an average finish of 15.2.

- compiled by

Three Atlanta wins make Kurt Busch strong candidate to win Sunday

Kurt Busch is 15/1 to win at Atlanta Sunday night
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Aug. 27, 2014) – The nickname “Hotlanta” is often used in reference to the Atlanta nightlife and the abundance of activities in which to participate while in the popular Southern city. To a lesser degree, the nickname also refers to the hot summer temperatures typical in the Southeast.

This weekend, the nickname “Hotlanta” could certainly apply to Kurt Busch and his recent performances in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has three Sprint Cup wins – October 2002, March 2009, March 2010 – and 10 top-10 finishes in 23 starts at Atlanta. Perhaps more importantly, in his last five starts at the 1.54-mile oval, Busch hasn’t finished worse than 13th. In fact, the Las Vegas native has secured one win, two fourth-place finishes, one sixth-place effort and a 13th-place finish in those five races.

It’s easy to see that Busch is red hot when it comes to racing in Atlanta.

And with a third-place run two weeks ago at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and a fifth-place finish this past weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Busch is riding a wave of momentum into this weekend’s Oral-B USA 500 that he hopes to continue.

The No. 41 team officially clinched a berth in the 2014 Chase thanks to Busch’s win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in March. A win at Atlanta this weekend also would move Busch ahead of the four other single-race winners of the 2014 season thus far. The 16 drivers who qualify for the Chase will have their point total reset to 2,000, and will be seeded based on bonus points – three per win – earned prior to the start of the Chase. That would see Busch, currently seeded 11th, jump to eighth.

With this weekend’s Atlanta race also falling on Labor Day weekend – an annual national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country – Busch has added incentive to improve on his recent successes and find his way to victory lane.

A win on the Labor Day weekend race would also be the perfect way to salute the people and all of their hard work behind the American success story that is Busch’s sponsor Haas Automation. With more than 1,200 employees, Haas Automation – whose products are manufactured at the company’s expansive facility in Oxnard, California – is the largest, most modern machine tool manufacturing operation in the United States.

This weekend, Busch hopes to turn up the heat and take control in “Hotlanta.” With just two regular-season races remaining before the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship begins, Busch would like nothing more than to drive his No. 41 Haas Automation Chevy into victory lane, scoring his second win of the season and securing valuable bonus points for the onset of the Chase.

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Talk a little bit about racing at Atlanta.

“It’s a tough, tough race. Especially now that it’s on Labor Day weekend with it being so hot there. The track is very greasy, it’s very hot. The asphalt is worn out, and the tires have a hard time maintaining pace. All of those factors combined make this a very challenging race. I won a couple of spring races in a row at Atlanta in 2009 and 2010, but those races were when it was nice and cool out. It’s a very different racetrack in cool and hot conditions. The practice sessions seem very limited when we’re there, so you’ve got to unload fast and stay fast.”

So this is a place where the driver may play a bigger role than the aerodynamics typically needed at most intermediate tracks?
“I think so. It’s an intermediate track because of its size and the banking, but it really is more of a driver’s track because you have a lot to balance there – aerodynamics, pit strategy and tire management.”

What’s the most difficult thing about 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 separate yourself to be a race-winning contender.”

You have often said that Atlanta is one of your favorite tracks. Why is that?
“It’s just because of the tire management element the track brings into the equation. If you take a look at them, most of the tracks that are in the Southeastern part of the United States really chew up the tires. Charlotte used to be that way before the track was repaved, and it’s starting to come back to that. You have Darlington, which has that reputation and, even though we don’t race there anymore, Rockingham is another track that was like that. And then you have Atlanta. It’s just one of those tracks. It’s fast. It chews up tires and you have to run up by the wall to manage your tires the best.”

Kurt Busch’s Atlanta Motor Speedway Performance Profile:
YearEventStartFinishStatus/LapsLaps LedEarnings
2013AdvoCare 500324Running, 325/3250$165,235
2012×AdvoCare 5001613Running, 327/3270$129,638
2011AdvoCare 500104Running, 325/3250$175,525
2010×Kobalt Tools 500111Running, 341/341129$176,498
 Emory Healthcare 500116Running, 325/32510$160,823
2009×Kobalt Tools 50021Running, 330/330234$164,175
 Pep Boys Auto 500638Accident, 244/3250$101,725
2008Kobalt Tools 5002911Running, 325/3250$79,325
 Pep Boys Auto 500196Running, 325/32512$120,575
2007Atlanta 5001711Running, 325/32514$110,408
 ×Pep Boys Auto 50028Running, 329/32998$145,833
2006Golden Corral 500937Running, 321/32522$99,153
 †Bass Pro Shops 5001614Running, 323/3250$131,333
2005Golden Corral 5002432Running, 304/3250$117,310
 Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 5003036Running, 270/3250$129,550
2004Golden Corral 5002012Running, 325/3250$78,950
 Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 5002242Engine, 51/3250$84,790
2003Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 500 I940Engine, 143/3250$66,090
 Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 500 II178Running, 325/3253$110,475
2002MBNA America 500411Running, 325/32559$62,225
 *†NAPA 50081Running, 248/24884$212,100
2001Cracker Barrel 5003610Running, 324/3250$56,945
2000NAPA 5002436Running, 316/3250$46,315
* Race cut short due to weather.
† Qualifying canceled due to weather, starting position set via car owner points.
× Race length extended due to green-white-checkered finish.

- True Speed Communication for Stewart-Haas Racing

Top-5 finish at Atlanta would be first for Clint Bowyer

Clint Bowyer is 40/1 to win at Atlanta on Sunday night
CORNELIUS, N.C. — The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Atlanta Motor Speedway for a Labor Day weekend race. And Clint Bowyer and his team know that there’s still work to be done with two races left before the field for the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is set.

Despite a 17th-place finish Saturday night in Bristol, Bowyer actually put more distance between himself and the 17th-place car (the first car outside of the 16 field Chase). The Michael Waltrip Racing driver is currently 15th, five points ahead of 16th and 31 ahead of 17th.

With 325 laps ahead of him Sunday night at the high-speed 1.5-mile oval, Bowyer knows that with a little hard work, a good finish is doable for his No. 15 Toyota but a win is preferable.

What is your outlook these next two races?
“Well it’s crunch time. We are in it (the Chase) now but we’re not locked in and that’s the goal. We just have to go out and run our race. Like I’ve said, you can’t have any mistakes. Last weekend we got back there a little bit and got caught up in someone else’s mess. We can’t do that these next two races. I like Atlanta. We were really good there last year. We were leading and then we had an issue. We’ll see. A win is what we are looking for but right now every point counts too.”

Chassis No. 816 serves as the primary chassis for Bowyer at Atlanta. This is a new chassis. Chassis No. 804 serves as the back-up chassis and finished 12th at Darlington and 15th at Bristol earlier this year.

No top-five and five top-10 finishes in 13 starts
Completed 4,027 of 4,252 laps (94.7%) and has led 114 laps
Average start 15.7 and average finish 19.8
Two DNFs (did not finish) – Sept. 2013 and 2011


-Michael Waltrip Racing

Kevin Harvick searching for first Atlanta win since 2001

Kevin Harvick is a 6/1 co-favorite to win at Atlanta
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Aug. 28, 2014) – Kevin Harvick’s average starting position of just better than ninth this season is by far the best of his 14-year Sprint Cup Series career. In fact, the driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has produced five of his 11 career Sprint Cup poles in 2014 – better than 45 percent of his career pole total – and he still has 12 races remaining in the season, starting with Sunday night’s Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, to add to that total.

Prior to 2014, Harvick’s best average starting position in a single Sprint Cup Series season came in 2006, when he scored an average starting position of 13.5 for the 36-race season. He also won two Sprint Cup Series poles in 2005, the most in any season prior to his five poles through the first 24 races of this season.

Several factors may have contributed to Harvick’s average starting position of 8.8 this season and his recent string of qualifying success, such as the new knockout group qualifying format introduced at the start of the 2014 Sprint Cup season, or perhaps the new ride-height rules. But, one factor that should not be overlooked is the crew chief calling the shots.

Veteran Sprint Cup crew chief Rodney Childers has experienced a season like this before in his first season with a new driver. Childers and future NASCAR Hall of Fame candidate Mark Martin combined to win four poles in only 24 races in their first season paired together in 2012. The duo also scored two outside-front-row qualifying efforts to go along with their four poles.

Childers claims to see a lot of similarities between his current driver and his former driver in their commitment to qualifying. He believes it is a group effort by both the driver and the team to show each other the confidence and determination it takes to turn a fast lap when it counts to win a pole, which equates to a better starting position and even a better pit stall for when the race starts.

If Harvick and Childers have hopes of scoring their sixth Sprint Cup pole of the season at Atlanta, they have their work cut out for them. Harvick has never won a Sprint Cup Series pole at Atlanta, but he did start in the second position in October 2006. His last top-10 starting position at the 1.54-mile “quad” oval came in October 2009, when he started 10th. While Harvick has not witnessed great qualifying success recently at Atlanta, he has scored top-10 finishes in six of his last seven starts there, including three top-fives.

The Bakersfield, California native clinched his Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship berth with a second-place finish Aug. 3 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. With just two regular-season races remaining before the start of the Chase Sept. 14 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, Harvick knows that regular-season points no longer matter. Winning is the only way to capture additional bonus points for when the Chase field is seeded following Richmond.

Under the new Chase format, the top-15 drivers with the most wins over the first 26 races earn a spot in the Chase. The 16th position goes to the points leader following the Sept. 6 Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway if that driver does not have a victory. Each win counts for three additional bonus points to help seed the drivers for the first round of the playoffs.

Harvick does have wins at Atlanta in each of NASCAR’s top three touring series. He won the Sprint Cup race on March 11, 2001 in just his third career Sprint Cup start. Harvick led 18 laps and finished 0.006 of a second ahead of runner-up Jeff Gordon – the closest margin of victory since the advent of electronic scoring in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He also has two Nationwide Series wins – September 2009 when he won from the second position and led 131 laps, and August 2013 when he started 20th and led 132 laps. His lone NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Atlanta came in March 2010, when he started fourth and led 100 laps en route to the win.

Harvick is doing double duty this weekend and will get additional seat time behind the wheel of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports in Saturday’s Nationwide Series event. Harvick already has two Nationwide Series wins driving for JR Motorsports in 2014 – at Richmond in April, and in June at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.

Harvick will pilot SHR Chassis No. 4-884 Sunday night. If recent history is any indication, he will likely be starting up front again. Chassis No. 4-884 started from the pole position at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July and led 12 laps en route to an eighth-place finish for Harvick.

The No. 4 Jimmy John’s team likes to be “Freaky Fast” on qualifying day, but it also knows that those all-important bonus points for the Chase come from finishing first Sunday night.

RODNEY CHILDERS, Crew Chief of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:

You won four poles with Mark Martin as your driver in 2012. You’ve won five poles with Kevin Harvick this season. Can you compare working with those two drivers as qualifiers?

“With Mark (Martin), even though it was four poles, I think we qualified in the top-five four or five more times, too, so we’d just barely miss it. I think Kasey (Kahne) ended up with four poles and it seemed like every time he was on the pole, we were on the outside front row. It was probably close to being seven or eight poles. I’d say the biggest thing is just seeing the determination in Mark when it comes to qualifying time and his confidence level as he would get into the car. I see that same thing with Kevin. I didn’t know that going into this year, but he’s not any different then what Mark is. I think he has that confidence in us, and we have that confidence in him. I think he feels like he can sit on the pole every week, and we feel that way, too. A lot of the time, when you sit on the pole like we have, it’s pure commitment. Hearing (Kevin’s) voice after his lap at Bristol was all commitment. Yeah, we had a good racecar, but it was really his decision of how fast he was going to go. I think a lot of it is just him wanting to prove that he is a good qualifier, but I think a lot of it is just the confidence in the whole team that we can qualify well every week.”

People have at times said that Kevin Harvick might not be the best qualifier. What would you tell people about Kevin Harvick as a qualifier?
“A lot of people have also said that the reason he qualifies better is because of the way we’ve been doing it this year. You can learn from each session and get better. He’s really good at learning, anyway, but most of the times we’ve sat on the pole, he’s been fastest in the first (practice) session, too. So, to me, I think he is as good as anybody, really. Like I said, I didn’t really know that going into the year, but he can do it just like anybody else can.”

How much time each weekend do you focus on qualifying versus race setup? Is it something you place a priority on?
“I would say you work on your race setup about 85 percent of the time and you work on qualifying 15 percent of the time, because the race is really what matters. But, the qualifying thing has gotten to the point where the pit selection and all of that stuff means so much that you have to focus on that stuff. I think as a team we try to get everything we can out of every part of the car when it comes to qualifying and setups and different things. If you work on your race setup and you get a good race setup, then it’s easier to come up with a qualifying setup. I think, all-in-all, it’s about having a good car no matter if it’s race trim or qualifying trim.”

What makes for a good race setup at a place like Atlanta?
“The biggest thing at a place like Atlanta is keeping the tires on the car as long as you can. It wears the tires out so fast that whoever keeps the tires on the car the longest ends up being the best car. Normally, the guy who has the best-balanced car is the one who keeps the tires on it, too. Kevin is really good at taking care of his tires early in a run and that’s really when you can hurt them the most. I think that type of track plays into his hands a little bit.”

We’ve seen a lot of tire wear at racetracks with a rough surface like Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Are you expecting to see that at all this weekend in Atlanta?
“Judging from what I’ve heard from the people who tested there, it was really, really bad. That said, you have to go into the weekend with an open mind and do whatever you have to do to make sure you don’t have problems. You’ll probably see guys over the course of the weekend who might change rear-end housings or front geometry and keep their cambers down to try and take care of their tires the best they can.”

Do you have a specific memory from Atlanta Motor Speedway that sticks out?
“I’d say probably the biggest thing was in 2009 when I went there with (David) Reutimann and we had a really good car, led some of the race and, it just so happened that we raced Kevin Harvick all night. We would beat him on the short run and he would beat us on the long run. It came down to a little four- or five-lap shootout at the end and I thought we had a shot at it, but we ended up not winning. That was the best I’d ever run there, though. It was a fun night.”

Kevin Harvick’s Atlanta Motor Speedway Performance Profile:
YearEventStartFinishStatus/LapsLaps LedEarnings
2013AdvoCare 500309Running, 325/3250$162,126
2012×AdvoCare 500245Running, 327/327101$172,101
2011AdvoCare 500217Running, 325/3250$159,361
2010×Kobalt Tools 500359Running, 341/3410$127,776
 Emory Healthcare 5002933Vibration, 309/3250$121,026
2009×Kobalt Tools 500104Running, 330/3300$143,728
 Pep Boys Auto 500182Running, 325/32566$248,328
2008Kobalt Tools 50087Running, 325/3250$124,086
 Pep Boys Auto 500613Running, 325/3250$144,461
2007Atlanta 5003625Running, 324/3251$117,736
 ×Pep Boys Auto 5003415Running, 329/3291$140,961
2006Golden Corral 500639Running, 313/3250$102,876
 †Bass Pro Shops 500231Running, 321/3259$123,536
2005Golden Corral 5003621Running, 324/3250$106,826
 Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 5003122Running, 323/3250$129,186
2004Golden Corral 500832Running, 318/3250$90,963
 Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 500935Engine, 296/3250$101,478
2003Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 500 I1719Running, 323/3250$87,968
 Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 500 II1020Running, 324/32541$110,753
2002MBNA America 500839Running, 254/3250$85,218
 *NAPA 5002140Running, 221/2480$99,818
2001Cracker Barrel 50051Running, 325/32518$158,427
 NAPA 500383Running, 325/3250$135,477
* Race cut short due to weather.             
× Race length extended due to green-white-checkered finish.                
† Qualifying canceled due to weather, starting position set via car owner points.

- True Speed Communication for Stewart-Haas Racing

Tony Stewart to return this week at Atlanta

Stewart listed as part of Atlanta Field at 25/1 odds 
KANNAPOLIS, N.C., (Aug. 28, 2014) – Tony Stewart has decided to return to racing this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. The Aug. 31 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the 1.54-mile oval will mark Stewart’s first start since Aug. 3 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

Stewart sat out the past three races at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway following the tragic accident on Aug. 9 involving Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car feature at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park.

At 1 p.m. EDT on Friday in the infield media center at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Stewart will be available to the press, where he will be joined by Stewart-Haas Racing executive vice president Brett Frood.

- True Speed Communication for Stewart-Haas Racing

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Harvick, Gordon, Johnson & Keselowski all co-favorites to win at Atlanta

Is Penske the team to beat as we get back on 1.5-mile tracks?
LAS VEGAS - Four drivers have been listed as the 6-to-1 co-favorites by the LVH SuperBook to win Saturday’s Oral-B USA 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, and for good reason. Atlanta will be the sixth 1.5-mile track raced on this season, and the previous five may give us a good idea about who'll win in Sunday.

The Penske duo of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have combined to win three of the 1.5-mile track races. Keselowski, who had a career-best Atlanta finish of third-place during his 2012 Championship season, is one of the 6-to-1 favorites. He was able to reel in wins at Speedway Motorsports Inc. sister tracks at Las Vegas and Kentucky.

Logano, listed at 8-to-1 odds, won this season at the track that is most similar to Atlanta, Texas Motor Speedway, in April. His best finish at Atlanta was runner-up last season behind Kyle Busch, who took his second checkered flag at the high-banked track.

Busch comes in at 10-to-1 odds, which sounds attractive, but his Joe Gibbs Racing team is nothing like it was last season. In 2013, the JGR cars were the cream of the crop of these cookie-cutter tracks. They had won four of the first five 1.5-mile races and followed it up with an Atlanta win. But they have yet to win on any of these tracks this season. Busch can still be considered a conteneder since he won at the 2-mile layout at Fontana, a horsepower track, but it remains his only victory of the season, and the balance required for the steeper banking might not be there for him, or any other JGR car.

One of the three drivers who are favored with Keselowski to win Sunday night is five-time Atlanta winner Jeff Gordon. He gets high marks this week on the basis of his Kansas win in May, but what makes him superbad (that’s a good term) in this race is that he’s finished ninth or better at all five 1.5-mile track races this season. He was runner-up at Texas, a great sign that he’ll be among the top-five finishers. In addition to his five wins on the track, he also has five second-place finishes, including in 2001 when Kevin Harvick beat him by a track record margin of victory of only six-thousandths of a second (0.006).

Harvick also comes in at 6-to-1, and his last Atlanta win came in that 2001 race, which was just his third race in the Cup series after taking over for the late Dale Earnhardt. Harvick hasn’t won on a 1.5-mile track this season, but his Hendrick Chevy engine has powered him to two runner-up finishes at Kansas and Charlotte. While he had some sketchy performances with breakdowns in the first half of the season, he comes in on a streak of having finished 11th or better in his last five starts. The Stewart-Haas Racing team has put everything together at the right time, as there are only two races remaining before the Sprint Cup Chase starts.

Three-time Atlanta winner Jimmie Johnson also comes as one of the 6-to-1 favorites, partly on the basis of his win at sister-track Charlotte in late May. His fourth-place finish last week at Bristol was his first top-five since winning at Michigan in June. That win was during a stretch where he won all three of his races this season within four outings. We haven’t seen a 1.5-mile track since Kentucky, where he finished 10th, but the No. 48 team figures to come up big again. This race is huge for them, and everyone else, as five of the Chase races will be on 1.5-mile tracks.

The driver with the best chance of surprising everyone is Kasey Kahne at 15-to-1. He’s a two-time winner at Atlanta and he’ll be running the same equipment as Gordon and Johnson. Kahne is one of those drivers in pickle as far as the Chase is concerned because he’s 33 points out of the 16th and final slot, currently sitting in 18th place on the season standings.

With such a huge deficit for Kahne, he might be in a position to try to win at all costs. He’s fighting for his season, and he needs a lot of help for the Chase to become a reality.

Another driver with great success at Atlanta is three-time winner Carl Edwards at 30-to-1 odds. The Roush-Fenway Racing engines have been getting better lately. His best finish of late at Atlanta was in 2010, when he was second in the second of Atlanta's then-two race dates.

Read More Here.....LVH odds to win

Monday, August 25, 2014

Kyle Busch won for the second time at Atlanta last season.
Atlanta Motor Speedway Data
Season Race #: 25 of 36 (08-31-14)
Track Size: 1.54-miles
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 24 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 24 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 5 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 5 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 2,332 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,800 feet
Race Length: 325 laps / 500.5 miles
Top 10 Driver Ratings at Atlanta
Jeff Gordon.............................. 105.6
Jimmie Johnson........................ 104.8
Tony Stewart............................. 100.2
Carl Edwards............................ 100.0
Matt Kenseth.............................. 96.5
Denny Hamlin............................. 96.2
Kurt Busch.................................. 94.5
Kyle Busch................................. 94.4
Dale Earnhardt Jr........................ 93.3
Martin Truex Jr............................ 91.4
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (15 total) among active drivers at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Qualifying/Race Data
2013 pole winner:
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford
189.688 mph, 29.227 secs. 08-30-13
2013 race winner:
Kyle Busch, Toyota
135.128 mph, (03:42:14), 08-30-13
Track qualifying record:
Geoffrey Bodine, Ford
197.478 mph, 28.074 secs. 11-15-97
Track race record:
Bobby Labonte, Pontiac
159.904 mph, (03:07:48), 11-16-97

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 106 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Atlanta Motor Speedway since the first race there in 1960. Until 2010 there have been two races per year except 1961, which had three. This year marks the third season with only one event.
·         544 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway; 364 in more than one.
·         Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Atlanta with 65. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 40 starts, followed by Joe Nemechek with 37.
·         Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Atlanta in 1960 with a speed of 133.870 mph.  
·         47 drivers have Coors Light poles at Atlanta, led by Buddy Baker and Ryan Newman with seven each.  
·         Winning consecutive Coors Light poles has happened eight times at Atlanta, among six drivers.
·         Ryan Newman holds the record for most consecutive poles at Atlanta with six; spring of 2003 through 2005.
·         Youngest Atlanta pole winner: Terry Labonte (03/15/1981 – 24 years, 3 months, 27 days).
·         Oldest Atlanta pole winner: Harry Gant (11/14/1993 – 53 years, 10 months, 4 days).
·         43 different NSCS drivers have won at Atlanta Motor Speedway, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardtwith nine wins. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five.  
·         11 drivers have posted consecutive wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway: Marvin Panch (1965 sweep), Bobby Allison (1972 sweep), David Pearson (1973 sweep), Richard Petty (1974 fall, 1975 spring), Cale Yarborough(1980 fall, 1981 spring), Bill Elliott (1985 sweep; 1992 sweep), Dale Earnhardt (1989 fall, 1990 spring; 1995 fall, 1996 spring), Bobby Labonte (1997 fall, 1998 spring), Jeff Gordon (1998 fall, 1999 spring), Carl Edwards(2005 sweep), Jimmie Johnson (2007 sweep)
·         Youngest Atlanta winner: Kyle Busch (03/09/2008 – 22 years, 10 months, 7 days).
·         Oldest Atlanta winner: Morgan Shepherd (03/20/1993 – 51 years, 5 months, 8 days).
·         The Wood Brothers have the most wins at Atlanta in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 12: Cale Yarborough(three), David Pearson (three), Marvin Panch (two), Neil Bonnett (two) A.J. Foyt (one) and Morgan Shepherd (one). Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports are tied for the second most wins at Atlanta with 11 each.
·         Nine different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Atlanta; led by Chevrolet with 37 victories; followed byFord with 29. Toyota has three wins at Atlanta.
·         14 of the 106 (13.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Atlanta have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Kasey Kahne in 2006.
·         The fifth starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (15) than any other starting position at Atlanta Motor Speedway; the most recent was Jeff Gordon in 2011.   
·         26 of the 106 (24.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Atlanta have been won from the front row: 14 from the pole and 12 from second-place.
·         60 of the 106 (56.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Atlanta have been won from a top-five starting position.
·         84 of the 106 (79.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Atlanta have been won from a top-10 starting position.
·         Seven of the 106 (6.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Atlanta have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
·         The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Atlanta is 39th, by Bobby Labonte in the fall of 2001.
·         No driver has swept the weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway across all three NASCAR national series. Two drivers have won in multiple NASCAR national series in the same weekend at Atlanta: Carl Edwards (2005, NSCS/NNS); (fall 2008, NSCS/NNS) and Kyle Busch (spring 2008, NSCS/NCWTS)
·         Dale Earnhardt and David Pearson lead the series in runner-up finishes at Atlanta with seven each; Jeff Gordon leads all active driverswith five.
·         Dale Earnhardt leads the series in top-five finishes at Atlanta with 26; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 16.   

·         Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Atlanta with 33; Jeff Gordon leads all active driverswith 25.

·         Ryan Newman leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Atlanta with a 7.571.
·         Tony Stewart leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at 11.654.
·         Nine of the 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Atlanta Motor Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Kevin Harvick won at Atlanta in his first appearance (2001). Carl Edwards won in his second appearance (2005).      
·         Denny Hamlin competed at Atlanta Motor Speedway 12 times before winning in the spring of 2012; the longest span of any the 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.
·         Among the 10 active NSCS Atlanta winners Denny Hamlin (12) is the only driver to have made 10 or more attempts before his first win.
·         Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Atlanta without visiting Victory Lane at 37; followed by Matt Kenseth with 25.
·         Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway was the March 11, 2001 race won by Kevin Harvick over Jeff Gordon with a MOV of 0.006 second.
·         There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): fall of 2007 (325/329); spring of 2010 (325/341) and fall of 2012 (325/327).
·         Four of the 88 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the event on 6/18/2006.    
·         Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway five times; most recently the fall of 2010.   
·         One active driver has posted his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway: Terry Labonte (3/15/1981).
·         Two active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career start at Atlanta Motor Speedway: Jeff Gordon (11/15/1992) and Martin Truex Jr. (10/31/2004).
·         Two active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Atlanta Motor Speedway:Kevin Harvick (3/11/2001) and Carl Edwards (3/20/2005).
·         Cale Yarborough leads all drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Atlanta with 3,283 laps led in 47 starts. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in laps led at Atlanta with 1,297.    
·         Three female drivers have competed at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie, Shawna Robinson and Danica Patrick.
Starting Position
Finishing Position
Danica Patrick
Danica Patrick
Janet Guthrie
Janet Guthrie
Janet Guthrie
Shawna Robinson
NASCAR in Georgia
·         There have been 165 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among12 different tracks in Georgia.
Track Name
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Augusta International Speedway
Lakewood Speedway
Savannah Speedway
Middle Georgia Raceway
Central City Speedway
Valdosta 75 Speedway
Jeffco Speedway
Oglethorpe Speedway
Augusta International Raceway
Columbus Speedway
Hayloft Speedway
·         178 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Georgia; 15 have won at least once in one of NASCAR’s national series.
·         11 of the 178 have posted at least one victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. 
·         Bill Elliott (five wins) is the only Georgia native to have won at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. 
Bill Elliott
Tim Flock
Jack Smith
Fonty Flock
Bob Flock
Frank Mundy
David Ragan
Gober Sosebee
Harold Kite
Sam McQuagg
Jody Ridley
Reed Sorenson
Chase Elliott
Buckshot Jones
Ronald Cooper