EDWARDS LOOK TO GAIN GROUND, SWEEP ATLANTA
Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) can use Jeff Gordon's (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) season sweep at Martinsville as inspiration this weekend at Atlanta. Edwards, in his first fulltime NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season, and his first Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, notched his first career series win in March at Atlanta. He also won the NASCAR Busch Series event there, another career first.
• Edwards is pursuing what would be the series' third sweep this year. Aside from Gordon's two Martinsville victories, Jimmie Johnson's (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) two wins at Lowe's Motor Speedway is the other 2005 sweep to date.
• Two other drivers with sweep opportunities this season also are Chase participants - Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford) at Texas and Kurt Busch (No. 97 IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford) at Phoenix.
• Edwards finished 27th at Martinsville and jumped one spot in the Chase standings to fifth place. Roush Racing teammate Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford) had been fifth. But now Edwards is 149 points behind leader Tony Stewart (No. 20 Hope Depot Chevrolet) compared to 54 points a week ago.
JOE GIBBS, HENDRICK DRIVERS EXCEL AT ATLANTA
Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson rank first and second, respectively, after six races in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. But don't look for either to slow down. Both are former winners at Atlanta, and their teams perform well there, too.
• Johnson's team, Hendrick Motorsports, has eight Atlanta wins - the most among teams participating in the 2005 Chase. Stewart's team, Joe Gibbs Racing, is second with seven Atlanta wins.
• Since 2000, six of the 11 events at Atlanta Motor Speedway have been won by a JGR or Hendrick driver.
• Johnson is the defending race champion at Atlanta, his only win there. He finished second in March to Edwards. Stewart has one win (March 2002), five top-five and eight top-10 finishes in his last 10 Atlanta events - the best among Chase participants.
SORENSON TO MAKE HOMETOWN SERIES DEBUT AT ATLANTA
Reed Sorenson, who hails from the Atlanta suburb of Peachtree City, Ga., hopes to take a big career step in this week's Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500. He'll attempt to qualify the No. 39 Discount Tire Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing before a hometown crowd, and if successful, he'll make his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut on Sunday.
• Sorenson, 19, is fourth in the NASCAR Busch Series standings, where he drives the No. 41 Discount Tire Dodge, also for Ganassi. He'll move to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup next season, and return fulltime to the NASCAR Busch Series.
• Sorenson is competing with Carl Edwards for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR Busch Series. Following last week's event at Memphis, Edward leads Sorenson by eight points in that battle.
• In March, Sorenson led 47 laps in the NASCAR Busch Series event at Atlanta, his first race at his hometown track. He finished 29th after an accident.
• Sorenson also is entered in next week's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup' Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
THE BATTLE FOR 11th PLACE
As the Chase progresses, so does the race for 11th-place, a spot worth over $1 million as a bonus from the season-ending point fund. The goal remains the same - winning races - and so does the incentive - to excel and improve one's position in the standings. Here's a look at drivers in spots 11 through 15 entering race No. 33 at Atlanta Motor Speedway:
• 11th place - Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge), currently controls that position. He gained three spots following a seventh-place finish at Martinsville Speedway.
• 12th place - Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) is in 12th place for a second straight week. He finished 15th at Martinsville and trails McMurray by 18 points.
• 13th place - Joe Nemechek (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet) is in 13th place for a second consecutive week. He finished 23rd at Martinsville trails McMurray by 48 points.
• 14th place - Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M & M's Ford) is in 14th place. He dropped three spots in the standings following his 29th-place finish at Martinsville. Sadler trails McMurray by 49 points.
• 15th place - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) is in 15th place. He gained two spots following Sunday's win at Martinsvill. Gordon trails McMurray by 62 points.