Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 Expected To Be A Challenge for NEXTEL Cup Competitors
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
The Chase for the NEXTEL Cup is down to the final four races, and the championship is far from decided.
If history is any indicator, this weekend¿s Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be one of the most challenging races in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.
None of the championship contenders have an average finish better than 10th at Atlanta, the only the only speedway in the final five-race stretch that doesn¿t have a driver with a single-digit average.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has the highest average finish of the 10 Chase drivers, with an average of 10th. Mark Martin has an overall average of 17th, but that average improves to 10th if only his events with Roush Racing are taken into consideration.
¿You could see a lot of guys whose championship hopes end this weekend,¿ said Atlanta Motor Speedway President and General Manager Ed Clark. ¿But this could also be the weekend that one of the frontrunners takes a clear edge heading into the home stretch.¿
The top three drivers in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup ¿ Kurt Busch, Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon ¿ have all won at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the last two years.
Two of those drivers ¿ Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon ¿ have been running at the finish in every race at Atlanta dating back to 1999.
With that kind of record, those two would appear to have an edge on the competition. But anything can happen at Atlanta, the fastest and perhaps most competitive speedway on the NASCAR schedule.
¿Atlanta is good and bad for us,¿ Gordon said. ¿Sometimes we¿ve struggled a bit there. We went and tested there a couple of years ago and it really picked up our program. I think it¿s one of the tracks we feel good about, one of several of these last 10 tracks that we feel like we can go in put a real solid effort together.
But the top 10 drivers won¿t be the only ones hoping for a solid effort at Atlanta. The Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 will also be a pivotal race for the rest of the NEXTEL Cup drivers, as they scratch and scrape for every point and position.
An especially important race for the 11th finishing position will continue at Atlanta, since approximately $1 million will be paid to the driver who finishes 11th in the final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. That¿s an increase of more than $400,000 from last year¿s prize money for the 11th-place finisher. Additionally, the 11th-place driver will also join the top 10 drivers on the stage at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Awards Ceremony in New York in December.
Currently, Jamie McMurray holds the 11th-place position by 197 points over 12th-place Dale Jarrett.
Don¿t miss this pivotal race in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup. Great seats are still available starting at $69 for the entire weekend. For more information, contact Ticketmaster or the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211.