In a year when 111 points separate the top five in Busch Series points and little more than 500 points separate the top 10, a fast track known for its lead changes and three-wide action could prove to be a turning point for championship contenders.
And that¿s why current points leader David Green can¿t wait until the Oct. 25 Aaron¿s 312 at Atlanta, a track that he has more experience at than most.
¿I have a feeling the Aaron¿s 312 is going to be a pivotal point in the championship race for us,¿ said Green, who has competed in 8 of 11 Busch races held at Atlanta, finishing as high as second in 1996. ¿I haven¿t had the best of luck at Atlanta in the past, but I do have a lot of experience on this track and I¿m hoping this is the year that will pay off for the Timberwolf team.¿
Green is hoping his experience pushes him out of reach of second-place Brian Vickers, who trails him by only 48 points. While Vickers, 19, may be young and fast, Green is quick to point out that he¿s made almost seven times as many laps at Atlanta as Vickers has. In fact, Green has completed 1,324 laps to Vickers¿ 201.
Scott Riggs, currently third in points, also knows the importance of seat time at this fast track. That's why he has already completed an extensive two-day test at Atlanta, trying out every combination for race and qualifying set-ups.
¿When I look at Atlanta, it¿s obvious that David has experience on his side,¿ Riggs said during his test. ¿Brian has Hendrick Motorsports on his side ¿ he gets all the help he needs from their other teams. But I know week in and week out my team is just as capable of coming to the track and visiting victory lane as those guys are. That¿s what matters.¿
But that¿s not all; sometimes the intangibles like momentum and chemistry take over. Scott Wimmer (pictured) experienced that firsthand last year, winning four of the final eight races.
He hasn¿t found that same kind of groove yet this season, with just one win in 2003, but Wimmer has a good feeling about Atlanta. And why not? From the beginning, Wimmer has excelled at the fast, high-banked track.
It was in 2000, after qualifying was rained out for the ARCA race, that Wimmer and his Bill Davis Racing team pulled their car into the Winston Cup garage. To everyone¿s surprise, he not only made the field, he led nine laps of the race before finishing 22nd.
Since then, Wimmer has started fourth in the Aaron's 312 race at Atlanta the past two years. Now he¿s looking for a finish strong enough to match his starts.
¿I¿m bouncing around in the bottom half of the top ten in points, and I really hope to get a top-10 position solidified before we race in Atlanta,¿ Wimmer said. ¿That said, I know every position I can get in the Aaron¿s 312 will be important for me. And lucky for me, I really like this track.¿
The Busch Series promises to provide fans with a close race to the end, with excitement being paramount at the Aaron¿s 312.
Great seats are still available for the Aaron¿s 312 and the rest of the Oct. 24-26 Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500, with three-day packages starting at just $69. To purchase tickets or for more information contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211.