Atlanta Motor Speedway is Ready for Some Wide Open NASCAR Racing

Last week NASCAR drivers tested out the changes made to Bristol Motor Speedway.  The changes didn’t change the racing as intended but in the end the desired result was achieved.  Drivers were beating and banging, tempers were flaring, and helmets were thrown.  Denny Hamlin and his crew worked hard and stayed focused and won the race putting him in a four way tie for the top seed in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.  This week there will be none of that. This week NASCAR is at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the The AdvoCare 500.

The Atlanta Motor Speedway is another of the 1.5 mile “D” shaped ovals that dominate the NASCAR Schedule.  It used to be the fastest non-restrictor plate track until Michigan International Speedway was repaved.  It is still a very fast track that requires respect from the drivers.  The speed comes from the 24 degrees of banking in the corners.  The straight aways are banked at about 5 degrees.  The race is 325 laps or 500.5 miles.

Atlanta is a track where momentum is key to running fast.  Watch for drivers to be running the higher line just like they did at Bristol.  This allows the cars to maintain momentum and therefore speed off the corners.  Tires are also important due to the nature of the pavement that was used to make the track.  This also leads to drivers being able to make passes on the bottom during restarts.  Like all 1.5 mile tracks, if the caution flags fall just right a driver can win this race on fuel millage.  This will be especially evident if Goodyear brings a tire that doesn’t give up during a long run.

This is another track where the racing can be 3 and 4 wide at restarts.  It is also wide open for the drivers who are in the top 20.  Any of those drivers have a chance at winning this race if they can get their car handling well and they can avoid tire problems.   Pick your favorite driver and cheer.

According to the Driver Ratings Jimmie Johnson has an edge of 109.5 with Jeff Gordon, last year’s winner is next at 104.1, and then comes the year before winner Tony Stewart at 102.3.  Rounding out the top five in driver rating at this track is Carl Edwards, and Denny Hamlin Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards all have three wins here, but Jeff Gordon has five.  Bobby Labonte leads all active drivers with six wins here but is not expected to challenge.  There has been a different winner the last four races.

With the Chase for the Wild Card in the Sprint Cup Standings and the drivers that are all but locked into the Chase there really is nothing left to do but win.  Every one of the current top 15 drivers are capable of winning and need to win but the ones that must win are Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, and Ryan Newman.  Those drivers have to win one of the next two races or they will not be in the Chase.

If you can’t get to the track you can watch the race on ESPN at 6:30 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is the Lead NASCAR writer for RantSports.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary. On Facebook at NASCAR News and Commentary

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.

 

 


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