Have you heard?! The supercharged, adrenaline-pumping racing of the Global Rallycross Championship comes to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Aug. 10! Extreme racing stars such as Ken Block and Tanner Foust will try to tame a course comprised of dirt, water and asphalt!
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So how much buzz was built up by how Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway ended? Consider the following. Kyle Busch won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race for the first time since last April, Dale Earnhardt Jr. needed only a few late-race laps to pick up about 15 positions and Earnhardt, Jr. is now the points leader.
All of that, however, was greatly overshadowed by the fashion in which Sunday’s race ended, with Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano wrecking one another coming to the checkered flag and Kyle Busch getting by to take the win.
And then there was what happened immediately after the race. Logano, who had not yet been informed that Hamlin was en route to a local hospital for observation, expressed no remorse for the incident. Tony Stewart quickly confronted Logano on pit road, taking issue with Logano blocking Stewart’s momentum on the final restart.
Stewart wasn’t finished – he then expressed his displeasure with Logano during an interview with NASCAR on Fox reporter Steve Byrnes, using a few choice words directed toward Logano.
According to a statement from Joe Gibbs Racing released on Sunday night, Hamlin was held overnight for observation. We certainly send along our well wishes for a speedy recovery to Hamlin.
As for the racing itself? It may have been the most exciting racing on a larger track in quite some time. Tracks longer than a mile can at times be accused as producing racing in which it’s hard for cars to pass one another. But you did not see that on Sunday, with plenty of passing and racing three and at times, four and five-wide.
And that, race fans, is something that’s exciting to see going forward! When drivers are able to race side-by-side more, it’s a great thing. And when you’ve got drivers passionate about winning and losing, even if it’s over just one position, it excites everyone.
As for multiple racing grooves, that’s something we’ve become used to seeing here at Atlanta, where our current racing surface was paved in 1997, the same year of Auto Club Speedway’s.
It’ll definitely be interesting to see how it all shakes out going forward.
The Fans Say…
So, what do the fans think of what happened this week? Well, here’s a sampling, courtesy of some of our Facebook fans!
“The new cars are awesome and so is the racing.”
“There was no point in Stewart doing what he done…all part of racing! Joey was racing his heart out today just like everybody else on that track!”
“It was an awesome finish... hats off to Kyle (and I don't even like him!)”
Who’s Up and Who’s Down?
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
He was already off to a very good start to the season. Now, he is leading the points standings.
After a tough start to the season, Busch and the Furniture Row Racing team appear to be hitting their stride with two top-five finishes in a row.
This team started the season strong, but has faded since then.
Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart have a combined three top-10 finishes through the first five races of the season, and Danica Patrick’s finish of 26th this past week was her best run since the season-opening finish of eighth at Daytona.
Kasey Kahne figured out the best way to put coming close to a victory behind him. By winning the very next race. Kahne picked up his first victory of the season on Sunday at Bristol, moving to the lead with 39 laps to go and pulling away from Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski to pick up the win.
Kahne’s triumph is huge for the No. 5 team as it shows the team’s strength on smaller tracks. The victory was just Kahne’s second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win on a track smaller than one mile. To win a championship, a driver must be able to win races on a wide variety of tracks. Being able to win on short tracks, especially so early in the season, is a massive burst of momentum for a team expected to contend for a championship.
Any time a NASCAR champion has glowing praise for a driver, it raises the expectations sky high, so high that they may never be reached.
But based on the past weekend, Kyle Larson may be well on the way to meeting the glowing accolades of Tony Stewart. Earlier this season, Stewart had this to say about Larson:
“That kid is a lot better than (Jeff) Gordon or I was at his age. You’re going to be hearing about him for a long time. He’s a special talent.”
Larson served notice he will be indeed heard from for a long time during the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday. After posting a strong run most of the day, he wheeled his banged-up car around the high side of the track, challenging for the lead and finishing a close second to Kyle Busch by just .023 seconds.
Think about that for a second. A driver is making just his fourth start within the series and goes door-to-door with one of the top drivers in NASCAR for the win.
Larson is a very promising young talent. His ability is something that’ll make the NASCAR Nationwide Series very intriguing to watch this season.
The team leads the points standings in both the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Brad Keselowski’s string of four top-five finishes in a row matches his career best.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Four top-ten finishes within the first four races of the season matches Earnhardt, Jr.’s best start to a season in his career at this point in a season. He is also second in the points standings.
He is in bad need of a strong finish with one top-10 finish so far in 2013. Gordon saw a bid for a strong finish come undone this past week when he cut a tire while leading the race.
Juan Pablo Montoya
Seeking a strong finish as the series heads to Auto Club Speedway, Montoya has finished no better than 12th through four races and was relegated to a 30th- place finish in Bristol due to a mechanical issue.
Transitions can be an x-factor in racing. Sometimes, a new combination between a driver, a new team or crew chief can cause some growing pains. But in other cases, things get up to speed in a hurry. You can count Matt Kenseth in the latter of those two.
After running strong in the first two races of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Kenseth found his way to victory lane on Sunday at Las Vegas, leading 42 laps, including the final 40 circuits to take the win.
Kenseth and crew chief Jason Ratcliff appear to be well in sync just three races into the season. Combine that with the resources of Joe Gibbs Racing, and you may very well have a powerful contender for the championship this season in the form of the No. 20 car.
As for Sunday’s race, many had pointed to Las Vegas as one of the early tests for the new Generation-6 car. With several tracks similar to Las Vegas remaining on the schedule, and with downforce playing such a key role in these events, Sunday’s race had many eyes on it from both fans and competitors alike.
Overall, an exciting race was produced in the Gen-6 car’s debut on a 1.5-mile track. There were 22 lead changes, the most for a race at LVMS since 2007. Plus, as we saw with gutsy on-track passes by the likes of Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne, these cars are very capable of getting pretty racy on the track.
The best news is that it’s a very young season, and as teams figure out more about these new cars, the racing will be even more fun to watch.
Hornish Sends Message
The early part of any racing season is about momentum. Sam Hornish Jr. has a firm hold on it within the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Hornish sent a strong message Saturday to both series regulars and Sprint Cup drivers racing in NNS events that he’ll be a driver to be reckoned with for both wins and the series championship.
The current points leader, Hornish has two top-five finishes and three top-10s. His finish of seventh at Phoenix came after Hornish battled back from early damage to his car.
While it is early in the season, Hornish is already a major factor to claim another Nationwide Series title for Roger Penske.
The Elevator: Who’s Up and Who’s Down?
With finishes within the top six positions in the first three races of the year, including finishes of first and second to start the season, it’s safe to say that the 48 team is starting 2013 on the right foot.
The defending champion has all but matched Johnson in every way except for winning a race.
Made up some major ground after a slow start to the season on Sunday.
After picking up a top-five finish at Daytona, he has failed to finish the past two races and badly needs strong finishes the next few races to climb out of 31st place in the points standings.
The three-time series champion has just one top-ten finish through three races. Then again, many ‘Smoke’ fans will tell you that he heats up in the summer months, anyway.
The 29 team started the year strong with wins in support events at Daytona, but has just one top-ten finish to show for its efforts so far and is currently 19th in points. The good news for Harvick fans is that Bristol ranks fifth for the driver in terms of best career average finish.
Sometimes, drivers start slow coming off a big championship run. Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards were slow out of the gate last year, and Edwards didn’t win a race the entire year. But if drivers are supposed to start slow following a championship run, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson didn’t get the memo.
Johnson has finished first and second in the season’s first two races, with Keselowski finishing third twice already.
If these two drivers keep it up, it could end up being them against everyone else for the championship this year.
Well, it turned out Carl Edwards was right. After an involvement in a wreck took him out of the Daytona 500, Edwards told a NASCAR on Fox interviewer that his team was going to Phoenix and would win the race.
Well, guess what? He was right! Edwards snapped a 70-race winless streak on Sunday, and the win was hardly a fluke. Edwards led 122 out of 316 laps on the way to taking the checkered flag.
How’s that for a prediction? Anyone know if Carl can predict winning lottery numbers?
There was plenty of talk during the offseason about Edwards and the 99 team having something to prove. It didn’t take long for them to back it up.
Carl Edwards is one of the sport’s biggest names. And when one of NASCAR’s most recognized drivers wins, it’s good for racing overall.
On Atlanta Motor Speedway's 1/4-mile 'Thunder Ring," countless drivers have and continue to take to the track eager to prove their racing mettle where drivers such as Ragan, Sorenson and Logano have craved out legendary paths to racing stardom.
12-year old Dylan Murry hopes to join them. He's raced in three Winter Flurry events this year at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Young Lions division, placing in the top five each time. Check out the video feature below on Murry!
For very good reason, there’s a lot of buzz regarding female racers this week. Make no mistake; Danica Patrick winning the pole position at Daytona is a tremendous thing for NASCAR as a whole. But as far as female drivers go, that’s nothing new at Atlanta Motor Speedway!
Patrick competed in her first NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway last Labor Day Weekend at Atlanta. Patrick has also been joined at Atlanta by another female driver – Johanna Long, who qualified 14th in the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Good Sam Club 200 at Atlanta.
At the same time, Atlanta’s storied history includes some high-water moments for woman drivers, starting with the grassroots short-track racing series on the quarter-mile “Thunder Ring,” which includes Thursday Thunder each summer.
Cindy Anderson made history in 2001, becoming the first woman to win a Thursday Thunder race at Atlanta.
Taylor Jorgensen won the 2012 Thursday Thunder Outlaws championship in dominating fashion, winning nine out of 10 races. Madeline Crane is the current Young Lions points leader in Atlanta’s Winter Flurry winter series, having won four times in four races. Also, Tina Johnson has claimed a victory in the Winter Flurry series this season.
Within NASCAR, the most notable moment came in the spring of 1994 when Shawna Robinson won the pole position for what was then the Busch Series race at AMS.
Through the years, other female drivers to race at Atlanta include Janet Guthrie, who earned one her five career top-five finishes here in 1978. Patty Moise made a pair of starts in the series now known as the Nationwide Series. Jennifer Jo Cobb has competed in both the NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races, and Tina Gordon was among the drivers in the first truck series event at AMS in 2004.
But it’s far more than just racing in NASCAR’s top divisions. In the Indy Car Series, Sarah Fisher had two starts within the series at Atlanta with a top qualifying effort of fifth and best finish of 11th.
No matter the driver or the series, there are no lack of current or future stars at Atlanta Motor Speedway! Catch them this summer at Thursday Thunder or at the Labor Day Weekend of NASCAR night racing, capped by the AdvoCare 500! Purchase tickets here or call 877 926 7849!
The thrilling speed of Atlanta Motor Speedway is impossible to resist! Recently, Atlanta rap artist T.I. headed out to the track and got behind the wheel of a Richard Petty Driving Experience car, driving up to 150 mph!
"We're about to do something that I always wanted to do."
The Richard Petty Driving Experience is one of a handful of driving experiences which allow you to experience Atlanta's high banks first-hand, either with ride-along laps or getting behind the wheel yourself! Get additional info right here!
Another class has been enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, elevating another group of racing legends to among the highest positions in all of stock car racing.
In just a few months, the next class will be voted on and nominated. Here are a few favorites to be voted in. Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments section below!
One of the great pioneers of sport, he won series titles in 1952 and 1955 with 39 wins in NASCAR’s top division.
One of the most important individuals in terms of the growth of NASCAR. Smith's facilities have led the way in terms of facility improvements and fan amenities.
The 1970 champion only raced full-time for three seasons, but made the most of it, finishing first, second and sixth in the points standings.
The winner of the first race at what is now known as Atlanta Motor Speedway, he logged an incredible 93 top-five finishes over a 15-year career.
Like many drivers of his era, he didn’t run a full-time schedule. But his talent failed to go unnoticed, landing him rides with some of the top owners of the time such as Holman & Moody, Smokey Yunick, Junior Johnson and the Wood Brothers.
From 1961 to 1964, Lorenzen was one of racing’s best. Competing in a total of 70 races, he won 19 times and claimed 22 pole positions. Included in that stretch were three Atlanta victories.
Already one of the garage area’s most-respected champions, helped the sport reach an entirely new generation of fans through his television broadcast work on ESPN with the 1980s and 1990s.
Though not a driver, his financial backing was integral to the sport itself getting starting during its formative years.
Was a crew chief within NASCAR from the 1960s into the early 1990s, including Bobby Isaac’s 1970 championship. His career included 56 wins. He gained notoriety with his pairing with Hendrick Motorsports driver Tim Richmond being portrayed in the movie, Days of Thunder.
The oldest living NASCAR national champion, White overcame limited backing to win the 1960 championship, beating Richard Petty. He won more races than any driver from 1960 to 1963, capturing 21 victories. White currently lives in Fayetteville and is a frequent guest during Atlanta Motor Speedway NASCAR race weekends.
Despite running a mostly part-time schedule, Weatherly still produced impressive results, earning top-10 finishes in 153 of 230 races he entered. He won the season championship in 1962 and 1963 – the only two years in which he ran a full-time schedule.
Remains the only African-American driver to have won a race in NASCAR’s top division.
Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman are some of the biggest names in NASCAR. But that’s not all that they have in common. All three failed to qualify to the Chase of the Championship last year, and their road to redemption will be a major storyline entering the 2013 season.
All three drivers have no shortage of fans, and their successes throughout their careers show as much.
That success, however, was hard to come by in 2012, raising the level of expectations for each driver as the new season approaches. Both Newman and Busch managed just one Sprint Cup victory each a year ago, and Edwards went winless a season after nearly winning the 2011 series championship.
Running strong was not a problem for Busch last season, ranking second among all Sprint Cup drivers in laps led. But he managed only 13 top-five finishes and his lone victory paled in comparison to a combined 19 victories in the past four seasons.
And in 22 races in his own car in the Nationwide Series and three Camping World Truck Series events, he was also winless. Busch is scheduled to run approximately 25 Nationwide races for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013.
“Unfortunately, we had a tough year. It wasn’t one that either of us wanted,” Busch told media recently. “You look more toward the positive things and what these guys are working on here (at JGR) and what Toyota is working on behind the scenes.”
Carl Edwards is coming off his first winless season since 2009. He rebounded from that season with a fourth-place points finish in 2010. Edwards is hoping for a similar bounce back in 2013. If that happens, it’ll be with a team under the leadership of veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig, who has crew chiefed drivers to a total of 36 Cupvictories. He has been with Roush Fenway Racing since 1997, serving as the crew chief for Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, David Ragan and most recently, Matt Kenseth.
“If you look at the way Matt (Kenseth) ran with Jimmy last year, it was head-and-shoulders better than we ran in the No. 99,” Edwards said.
Newman also heads into the new season with optimism thanks to a new crew chief. He’ll be reuniting with Matt Borland, with whom Newman experienced the greatest success of his career while at Penske Racing from 2000 to 2006. During that time, the two teamed up to win 12 races and also making a name for themselves during qualifying sessions, claiming 37 pole positions. Six of those came here at Atlanta Motor Speedway, tying him with Buddy Baker for the most pole positions in our track history.
“Matt and I have a great past,” Newman said. “But we also failed together at times. We’ve learned from those mistakes and that’s why we’re back together.”