Labor Day weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway is already an event that you cannot afford to not be a part of. It has excitement, fast cars, adrenaline, the world's best drivers racing under the lights, fun, friends and even more all rolled into one can't-miss weekend!
Now, with NASCAR's changes to qualifying for the Chase for the Championship, Labor Day promises to be even more exciting!
NASCAR has announced that the final two spots in the Chase, the 11th or 12th positions, also referred to as wild card positions, will be determined by the two drivers ranked between the 11th and 20th positions following the 26th race of the season at Richmond. Under this formula, Jamie McMurray would have made the Chase in 2010 and Kyle Busch would have done so in 2009.
So what does this all mean for Labor Day weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway? Well, it means that as NASCAR heads to Atlanta for a weekend of night racing, drivers not locked into the Chase could all but lock themselves a spot in the Chase by winning under the lights on Labor Day weekend!
In other words, drivers ranked 11th through 20th will have a very high incentive to go for broke at Atlanta Motor Speedway, potentially setting the table for some high-stakes, spark-flying drama.
Consider this scenario, for example. Let's say that no driver ranked 11th-20th has a race victory coming into Labor Day weekend. If any driver ranked in those positions can win at Atlanta on Labor Day weekend, they'll make their way into the Chase as a result of a victory at AMS.
What it all comes down to is this – when night racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway, it'll be the biggest Labor Day party in the USA. If you're a race fan, you cannot afford to miss out on it!
Coming into the 2005 season, Carl Edwards was an up-and-coming driver within the NASCAR ranks. At that time however, he was still lacking his first victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Edwards, driving for car owner Jack Roush, catapulted himself to dazzling stardom at Atlanta Motor Speedway, sweeping both of the season's races at AMS.
Edwards collected his first career Cup win in March's Golden Corral 500 in dramatic fashion, edging Jimmie Johnson for the win in yet another razor-thin margin of victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Edwards' win came a day after his first career win in the Nationwide Series in the Aaron's 312.
"I was just on a mission to win races, and I can't believe we won two this weekend," Edwards said. "I'm the luckiest guy in the world."
Edwards also won October's Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500, giving him a sweep of both season's races at AMS – the first driver to do so since Bill Elliott in 1992.
But the season sweep began in March on a day in which Edwards started fourth. Although Edwards ran strong throughout the afternoon, he wasn't the one that dominated, with Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle combining to lead 307 of 325 laps.
But Edwards proved that the most important lap to lead is the final one on this day. Johnson moved into the lead during a caution with 43 laps to go, but the field was tightened up 13 laps later as a result of oil on the track. That set the stage for Edwards' big move. Edwards led briefly for four laps before Johnson moved back into the lead with 25 laps to go. Edwards hung tough, staying within striking distance of the lead in what appeared to be a loose-handling as the laps wound down.
His persistence paid off.
With two laps to go, Edwards began to gain additional ground on Johnson, prompting NASCAR on Fox announcers to predict another close Atlanta Motor Speedway finish.
Edwards proved them right. Edwards made his move coming out of turn four on the final lap, pulling alongside Johnson and inching ahead of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet to win by .028 seconds.
"This is beyond my wildest dreams, and I'm enjoying every minute of it," Edwards said. "About two and a half years ago, I was working on my dirt car in my garage at home; this is pretty cool. It's unbelievable."
Edwards' October victory wasn't quite as dramatic, with him leading 115 of 325 laps, including the 104 of the final 116 laps. But it was a similar ending to the race for Edwards as his first Atlanta win – with Edwards celebrating with his patented backflip in full view of the fans in the Speedway's frontstretch grandstands.
Edwards offered fans at Atlanta Motor Speedway unforgettable moments in 2005. When NASCAR night racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day Weekend, more unforgettable moments will undoubtedly be forged, and you cannot afford to miss it!
When it comes to racing at Atlanta, the career of NASCAR Hall of Fame car owner Bud Moore has stood the
test of time. A World War II Veteran, Moore won four times at AMS during a 15-year span with four different drivers. Moore's first Atlanta win came in 1975, courtesy of Buddy Baker in a Ford.
Even today, Baker is known for his prowess on the larger racetracks, and the 1975 Dixie 500 proved to be no exception. Baker's strong showing toward the end of 1975 was punctuated by his win at Atlanta, as he led race-high 122 out of 328 possible laps. In fact, Baker finished 15th in the final points standings. He competed in 23 of 30 races and had a better points finish than four drivers attempting more races in 1975.
As for Baker's victory at Atlanta, it didn't come easy. Dave Marcis, who started on the pole position at a speed of more than 160 mph, led 51 laps and was a factor throughout the race. In fact, he was leading on the race's 278th lap when Baker passed him and pulled away to win by more than three seconds.
Richard Petty, despite having already clinched that season's points championship, appeared determined to not coast to the finish of 1975, leading 78 laps and finishing third. David Pearson and Cale Yarborough rounded out the top five.
Baker's win was one of his two career victories at Atlanta with the other coming in the 1979 spring race.
As for Moore, it was one of his four Atlanta wins as a car owner with Bobby Allison, Ricky Rudd and Morgan Sheperd claiming victories in later years at Atlanta with Sheperd winning in 1990.
A very notable name finished in last place in the 1975 race. Darrell Waltrip, racing in Atlanta for the first time with Digard Racing, retired from the race just six laps into the event as a result of a broken oil line. Waltrip would race the next five seasons with Digard as he began competing on a full-time schedule in NASCAR's top division.
Like many races at Atlanta, the 1975 Dixie 500 produced many memorable moments for those present. Be at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day Weekend when NASCAR night racing returns to be part of your own unforgettable moments at the racetrack!
Near the end of the 1995 season, the odds didn't look good for Dale Earnhardt Sr. to win his third title in a row, trailing Jeff Gordon by more than 300 points with 10 races left in the season. But he nearly completed a furious rally, coming up just short in the season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Napa 500.
Earnhardt headed to Atlanta trailing Gordon by 147 points, meaning he'd need a very good day and Gordon to have some things go wrong in order to win the championship.
It nearly ended up happening. After qualifying eighth, Gordon's car was not much of a factor, finishing 32nd. Earnhardt, on the other hand, did all he could to come away with the championship. The black No. 3 Chevy dominated, leading 268 of 328 laps and collected the most possible points by leading the most laps and collecting one of his nine Atlanta victories.
Gordon however, was able to hang on, winning his first of four championships and giving Rick Hendrick his first Cup championship.
"This is just a spectacular day. I know our racecar wasn't much today, but it's been a heck of a year," Gordon said after the race. "It's just the greatest thing in the world. There aren't words that can describe the way I feel."
Earnhardt started his post-race interview following the race by congratulating the Atlanta Braves on their recent World Series title in addition to Hendrick.
"He's due a championship, he's been doing this a long time," Earnhardt said. "I tested for him when he first started building cars. I've got to sort of feel good for him."
Earnhardt, who started 11th, won a race that had just two caution flags and saw 36 drivers running at the finish. Sterling Marlin finished second ahead of Rusty Wallace, Bill Elliott and Ward Burton. Darrell Waltrip started on the pole in his self-owned No. 17 Western Auto entry and finished 16th. It ended up being Waltrip's final pole position of his career at the track where he would compete in his final Cup race in November of 2000.
Well, here we are. 2010 has come and gone, and we've taken the green flag for 2011 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. We hope that everyone had a great holiday season and were able to enjoy time with friends and family. As we head into 2011 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, we're entering it with energy and excitement!
When we all came back to the track at the start of the this week, some 240 days remained until the Labor Day weekend of NASCAR night racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Sure that seems like a long time off. But for us, working toward that is a job that never stops. Whether its communicating with potential partners for race weekend, working to line up entertainment and activities for fans or coming up with ways to make race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway even better, Labor Day is linked with much of what we do here at Atlanta.
In fact, one of the first things some of our staff is doing after coming back from the holiday break is meeting about promoting Labor Day weekend! We'll have lots of things planned that will, with our fans help, make Labor Day a can't-miss event on the NASCAR schedule.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks, as we'll have an announcement on when tickets will be on sale to the public as well as some special guests that will be joining us on race weekend!