Despite Newman's qualifying successes, he hasn't been able to equate that into great finishes on Sunday. Newman's longtime coach and mentor Buddy Baker has visited victory lane at AMS, winning the 1979 spring race from the pole. Fourteen drivers have won from the pole at AMS, more than any other starting spot - most recently Kasey Kahne in the March, 2006 Golden Corral 500.
Newman notched six consecutive poles through 2003-2005 and grabbed his seventh last year in the spring race. This week leading up to the Kobalt Tools 500, Newman talked about how special breaking the tie with Baker would be.
"Atlanta has always been a place where I like to qualify, and it would be an honor to get the all-time pole record there. Buddy Baker really helped me throughout my racing career, and that's why we named the car we won the Daytona 500 with after him.
"We always drove the tracks backwards because it gives you a different perspective of entry and exit points. That's something we did at Atlanta when he was teaching me about the track and I have always qualified well there, so I think it would be an honor to both of us if I am able to get my eighth pole there this weekend."
NASCAR Veteran Dale Jarrett Prepares for Last Ride at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Dale Jarrett, the 1999 NASCAR Cup champion and 1997 Atlanta race winner, will make his final start at NASCAR's fastest track during the March 9 Kobalt Tools 500. Jarrett, who carries Atlanta based UPS as his primary sponsor and is a member of the Coca-Cola family of drivers, recently took a few moments to reflect on what Atlanta Motor Speedway has meant to him and his career.
"It's a track that I have always enjoyed racing at from the time it was configured before the changes to the way it is today," Jarrett said. "It's obviously a very fast race track, but it's a wide track and there have been some great finishes here and I've been fortunate to be a part of some of those great finishes.
"I would like to have won at Atlanta with its new configuration, but we came close several times and obviously we still have one more shot to make that happen. But I can't complain because this is a track that has been very good to me. Aside from the competition side of it, there are a lot of companies that I have been fortunate to have associations with that are located in Atlanta. UPS and Coca-Cola obviously come to mind. I've enjoyed a long relationship with Coca-Cola and then when UPS came on board as our sponsor in 2001, this track took on a whole new meaning. So there are a number of things that make this place very special and that I will miss as a competitor."
Jeff Gordon Looks to Atlanta Motor Speedway for Much Needed Rebound and Momentum Builder
After suffering two DNF's (did not finish) in the first three races of the 2008 season, Jeff Gordon, a perennial threat to win the Sprint Cup championship, finds himself marred in the 22nd place in the championship points standings.
According to Gordon, Atlanta couldn't come at a better time to help jump-start his season and he predicts NASCAR's current stock car will produce the same great racing and finishes fans have come to expect at AMS.
"I don't think it matters what vehicles we race," Gordon said. "This track just seems to provide great side-by-side racing through the corners, and there have been a lot of close finishes."
Gordon had reservations about what type of racing would occur when the track changed configurations from a 1.522-mile oval to a 1.54 mile quad-oval in 1997.
"I really liked the old design," said Gordon, whose first start in NASCAR's premier series occurred here in 1992. "But, after the change, I found out the design of the track wasn't the reason I liked racing here. It's the pavement that makes this place so much fun."
When asked to explain further, the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet referred to another passion of his.
"I guess it's like a fine wine," said Gordon, "The pavement - much like a great wine - gets better when it has aged. We can run low, middle, high and everywhere in between in the wide corners. It really gives us the opportunity to find a line that works best for the car."
If he finds that line, a trip to victory lane could be the jump-start Gordon needs for his drive to a fifth series championship.
Tickets to the entire Kobalt Tools 500 race weekend are available by calling 877-9-AMS-TIX (877-926-7849), 770-946-4211 or by visiting http://www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/.