The NASCAR Nextel Cup series moves to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Kobalt Tools 500. We looked at past performances, practice sessions, and season trends to shed a light on how the field might finish on Sunday afternoon.
When: Sunday, March 18, 2007; 2:10 p.m./et
Weather: Sunny with a high around 65; wind out of the WSW at 7 mph. Chance of precipitation 10%.
The Track: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Atlanta Motor Speedway is a wide, 1.5 mile oval. It has 24 degree banking on the corners. Due to the fast surface and steep banking it is known as the fastest track on the NASCAR circuit.
Key to Race: FINALLY A BACKFLIP?
This is a race that appears to be wide-open. Carl Edwards won both of the 2005 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and has finished in the top seven in four of his five career starts at the track. Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart split the two races at the track in 2006. If Edwards doesn't get to celebrate with his trademark backflip look for Kahne, Stewart, or Jimmie Johnson to be in victory lane.
51 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. Starting positions 1-43 will be determined by two lap qualifying runs that will be done on Friday, March 16th at 7:00 pm/et. Cars that were in the top 35 in owner's points during the 2006 season are guaranteed a spot in the race.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 99 Carl Edwards: In five career starts at Atlanta, Edwards has finished in the top seven four times. The back flip could return on Sunday and Edward's coach driver might finally be able to get rid of the beard he hasn't shaved since Edwards' last win in November of 2005.
No. 9 Kasey Kahne: Kahne has four top five finishes in six races at Atlanta. He won the March 2006 race and there is a great chance he could find victory lane again on Sunday.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has finished in the top six in six of the last seven races at Atlanta. With the hot streak he is currently on he has to be one of the favorites to win the race.
No. 20 Tony Stewart: Stewart won the October race at Atlanta and has ten top ten finishes in the last 11 races at the fastest track in NASCAR.
No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior has nine top ten finishes in the last 11 races at Atlanta. He could find himself in victory lane again at the ATL.
6 to 10
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has four career wins at Atlanta and has finished in the top ten in 13 of the last 17 races at ATL. A top ten finish on Sunday is expected.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has been great at Atlanta during his career. In 14 races he has seven top ten finishes. He will be very good on Sunday.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has led 284 laps in the past four Atlanta races. He should be in the top ten on Sunday.
No. 01 Mark Martin: Martin has finished in the top four in four of the past five races at Atlanta. He is a great bet to crack the top ten once again.
11 to 19
No. 31 Jeff Burton: Burton has been good at Atlanta since joining Richard Childress Racing. A top 15 finish is nearly guaranteed.
No. 5 Kyle Busch: Busch has finished 12th in three of the last four races at Atlanta. We expect he will finish around there again on Sunday.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin was great during the October race at Atlanta. He will finish in the top 20 on Sunday.
No. 19 Elliott Sadler: Sadler has never been great at Atlanta, but he should be good enough for a top 20 finish.
No. 18 J.J. Yeley: Yeley cracked the top 20 in both of the 2006 races at Atlanta. He could be a sleeper on Sunday.
No. 2 Kurt Busch: He has won at ATL before, but has averaged a 32nd place finish the last five races. I guess that makes him the definition of hit-or-miss.
No. 43 Bobby Labonte: Labonte has been great at Atlanta during his career and has been decent so far this season. He is a sleeper pick on Sunday.
No. 13 Joe Nemechek: Atlanta has been a decent track for "Front-Row Joe" during his career. He could be a sleeper on Sunday.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has won at Atlanta, but he has been terrible the past ten races at the track. Save him for another weekend.
No. 26 Jamie McMurray: McMurray has the potential to be great on Sunday, but we think he is too big of a risk to use on most fantasy teams.
20 to 29
No. 25 Casey Mears: Mears has struggled in his first three races with Hendrick Motorsports. We feel he will have success, but we advise waiting until he shows more consistency.
No. 38 David Gilliland: Gilliland has proved he does well at really fast tracks and there are none faster than Atlanta.
No. 12 Ryan Newman: Newman is the maestro of qualifying at Atlanta. In the ten races at the speedway he has started from the pole six times. We like him to grab the pole, but he should finish around 25th.
No. 41 Reed Sorenson: Sorenson finished 10th during last year's March race at Atlanta. He is a risky pick, but he could surprise on Sunday.
No. 07 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer finished 27th and 25th during last year's races Atlanta. We pick him to finish around there on Sunday.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya continues to drive conservatively. We won't recommend him until the series moves to the first road course.
No. 14 Sterling Marlin: Marlin has averaged around a 17th place finish during his career at Atlanta. He could surprise some people on Sunday.
No. 40 David Stremme: Struggled at Atlanta during the 2006 season. Even though he has been better this season we can't recommend him.
No. 45 Kyle Petty: Atlanta has been one of Petty's best tracks lately, but he will be lucky to finish much higher than 30th on Sunday.
No. 21 Ken Schrader: Schrader always seems to finish in the mid-20s at Atlanta. He will finish around there on Sunday.
30 to 39
No. 7 Robby Gordon: Atlanta has never been one of Gordon's better tracks, but he should be a top 30 finisher.
No. 96 Tony Raines: Raines has been okay the past two races this year. He should crack the top 35 on Sunday.
No. 6 David Ragan: The rookie struggled last week at Las Vegas, look for him to be up and down all season.
No. 44 Dale Jarrett: He has run 11,182 laps in a Nextel Cup car at Atlanta Motor Speedway during his career. We would have more confidence if he wasn't driving for Michael Waltrip Racing.
No. 66 Jeff Green: Green is consistently in the top 30, but he never finishes well enough to help your fantasy team.
No. 88 Ricky Rudd: Rudd has averaged a 28th place finish this season. He will wind up around there again on Sunday.
No. 1 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr has been terrible at Atlanta during three of his four career starts. He should be in the top 35 on Sunday.
No. 10 Scott Riggs: The 2007 season has been pretty forgettable for Riggs. He won't change his luck on Sunday.
No. 15 Paul Menard: Menard has the equipment to go fast, now if he can only qualify for the race.
No. 22 Dave Blaney: Blaney isn't an option, even if he is one of the better Toyota drivers.
No. 37 Bill Elliott: Will likely need a past champion provisional to make the race.
No. 83 Brian Vickers: Vickers has made just one race so far this season. He has had success at Atlanta during his career so he should make the field.
No. 33 Scott Wimmer: Wimmer will try and qualify an additional RCR car. He should be one of the final cars in the race.
No. 34 Kevin Lepage: Won the pole for the November race at Atlanta in 1999. He should make the race.
No. 84 A.J. Allmendinger: Allmendinger will struggle to make the field.
No. 70 Johnny Sauter: Has made all three races this season. We think his luck will run out soon.
No. 00 David Reutimann: The "Pizza Guy" is going to be lucky to make the race.
No. 4 Ward Burton: Burton will struggle to make the race.
No. 55 Michael Waltrip: Waltrip won't make the race, but he will look good with his fancy rims.
No. 36 Jeremy Mayfield: Will miss yet another race.
No. 49 Mike Bliss: Hasn't made a race yet this season. That won't change this weekend.
No. 78 Kenny Wallace: Won't make the race.
1. Carl Edwards
2. Kasey Kahne
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Tony Stewart
1. Greg Biffle
2. Mark Martin
1. Juan Pablo Montoya
2. Kevin Harvick