MARCH ON - For decades, Atlanta Motor Speedway was home to one of the first races on the NASCAR schedule. It was a tradition many families cherished, but with schedule realignment four years ago severed that early spring rite of passage.
Those fans have already been calling the AMS ticket office in droves to inquire about the new March 1 race date. Not only will it be a short drive north on the way home from the season opener in Daytona, it will also boast a jam-packed Saturday schedule featuring a Camping World Truck Series race, Nationwide Series race and Sprint Cup Series happy hour.
Couple that with the fact that cooler spring temps could boost the speeds on one of NASCAR fastest tracks - which also happens to be a favorite among the drivers for both its speed and its bumpy, old-school pavement - and excitement is high in the grandstands.
Speedway officials hope to capitalize on that excitement by offering incentives for fans who purchase their tickets now for the new March 1 race weekend. Those who renew this weekend will receive a free Atlanta Motor Speedway toolkit or a discounted pre-race pit pass for this weekend's Oral-B USA 500. Tickets can be renewed at any ticket gate or the main ticket office during event weekend. Fans can also take advantage of this opportunity during the Monday Morning Thank You Breakfast 8-10 a.m. in the AMS ticket office, which will feature free Coca-Cola products, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and coffee, and discounted gift store merchandise.
The fans aren't the only ones happy with the move.
"I don't care when we come here - I love this track," Gordon said. "This is an awesome track - whatever works for them, works for NASCAR, for the fans…we'll have a fast race car and good conditions for this track. I love this track, I love sliding around this track, and we'll be sliding around it whether we're here in March, April, or August or September."
For Kevin Harvick, a driver with great memories of March racing in Atlanta after scoring his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win in March 2001 - right after the death of Dale Earnhardt, in the late driver's car - a return to the March date feels sort of like coming home.
"You can only win your first race once, so coming to Atlanta every time is special," Harvick said. "It's also the one I circle on the calendar every year as one I feel like we run really well at and just enjoy driving at."
ELLIOTT WINS POLE AT HOME TRACK - Chase Elliott started off his debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a statement, winning his first career pole position for Saturday night's Great Clips 300 to benefit Feed The Children NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
"This is a big weekend for us - it's hometown for me and for NAPA, so we're excited to be here," Elliott said. "Hopefully we can stay where we start."
Has he gotten any advice from his father, Bill Elliott, himself a five-time winner at AMS?
"Yeah, a little bit," Elliott said. "We talked about it some yesterday, but a lot of it you do have to learn on your own."
HOLYFIELD TEAMS WITH FEED THE CHILDREN - Evander Holyfield visited the Marcy Scott Media Center at Atlanta Motor Speedway today to talk about his commitment to Feed The Children, one of Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race sponsors.
"I was the youngest of nine, and I was told I wasn't gonna be anything," Holyfield said. "If it hadn't been for the Boys Club, I wouldn't have eaten. It's amazing when you feed a kid what can inspire them."