Already known for having some of the best finishes on the NASCAR circuit, fans could soon also see some of the best restarts at Atlanta Motor Speedway when the Sprint Cup stars return for the Pep Boys Auto 500 on Sept. 6.
Since their introduction prior to the June Pocono race, double-file restarts have added extra elements of drama and intrigue to NASCAR races. With front-running drivers gunning for the lead after every caution, double-file restarts have quickly become a fan favorite.
And at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the drama and intrigue surrounding double-file restarts is likely to be much greater for the Pep Boys Auto 500 night race on Labor Day weekend. With a broad racing surface that allows drivers to compete side-by-side high or low throughout the turns, Atlanta Motor Speedway is built for double-file restarts.
"Man, it will be pretty crazy there," said Kasey Kahne, who won the 2006 Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "[During] double-file starts everybody is intense, nerves are up. It's pretty exciting. It's pretty on-edge. In Atlanta you're going to see, two, three, four-wide - four-wide, no problem - and it will be exciting. It will be good for the fans and nerve-racking for us."
At Atlanta - with perhaps one of the most competitive surfaces in all of NASCAR and one of the drivers' favorite tracks - the wide-racing surface could lend itself to a mad dash for the front, sending drivers four-wide into Atlanta's Turn 1, arguably the most daunting corner in racing.
"I think [double-file restarts] make the racing more exciting and in Atlanta its just going to give you an opportunity to have more passing and move forward," said Dale Earnhardt, Jr. "I think its really neat. It makes the races much more interesting in my mind.
"I think there's going to be some chaos [at Atlanta]," Earnhardt, Jr. continued. "With the track being wide and providing a lot of room, I think on the restarts you're going to see a lot of three-wide through Turns 1 and 2. It will be something you have to be concerned with, but it will be fun."
While the all out sprints on restarts will surely be chaotic at Atlanta Motor Speedway during the Pep Boys Auto 500, Atlanta's wide racing groove may also allow drivers to find space and race clean, yet hard. Should a caution present a double-file restart near the finish, many fans might expect another memorable finish Atlanta is known for.
"It's going to be a battle to get your car dialed in on a slick, hot surface during the day and then, hopefully, be good for the nighttime speeds," said Kurt Busch, who won the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta in March. "The double-file restarts at Atlanta, that's going to be the most fun that any driver can have. Atlanta is very racy."