The Chase for the Sprint Cup gets underway this weekend, and it does so with a fresh imprint of Labor Day Weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway on it. Of the drivers who either scratched their way into the Chase or barely missed the playoff, their fates were partially shaped by the AdvoCare 500.
Although most drivers clinched Chase seeds at Richmond, they raced their way into position at Atlanta Motor Speedway, another reminder of how big Labor Day Weekend has and will continue to loom for years to come for drivers seeking positions in NASCAR's 10-race playoff format.
Joey Logano and Ryan Newman, two drivers that needed to gain every position that they could to qualify for the Chase, set up their final charge at Atlanta. Logano's runner-up finish at the AdvoCare 500 put him in good position heading to Richmond, and that finishing spot turned out to be critical for Logano as he inched ahead of Jeff Gordon to get into the Chase. Ryan Newman found himself in a similar situation thanks to finishing fifth here on Labor Day Weekend.
A similar situation held true for Jeff Gordon, who was added to the Chase on Friday. He finished sixth at Atlanta following a late charge toward the front of the field, a showing which helped his cause.
Labor Day Weekend turned out to be a watershed moment for a number of drivers, and its position on the NASCAR schedule will continue that trend for years to come.