Carl Edwards currently sits fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings despite being winless entering the Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. On the cusp of the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, Atlanta is a critical race for Edwards' momentum, but also a track where the Missouri native has had incredible success.
Edwards comes to Atlanta Motor Speedway with three-career NASCAR Sprint Cup wins in just 10 appearances at the track - including last year's Pep Boys Auto 500 - in addition to one win in four Nationwide Series starts. In 2005, Edwards pulled off a weekend sweep at Atlanta Motor Speedway by winning both the 2005 Golden Corral 500 Sprint Cup race and the Aaron's 312 Nationwide Series race in March.
Success in this year's Pep Boys Auto 500 would not only give Edward's his first win of 2009, but also critical bonus points entering the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
"It will be fun to run the night race there," said Edwards. "In fact, the whole weekend will be fun. I think Atlanta now is my favorite track - Darlington was my favorite racetrack to drive and they repaved - Atlanta has the bumps and the pavement is slick. It's probably the most fun oval we go to."
"Atlanta has always been a really good track for Carl," said crew chief Bob Osborne. "We're taking the same car that we finished third with at Atlanta in the spring, so hopefully it will run just as well, if not better. We won the fall race in Atlanta last year and it would be great to win it again this year for several reasons. First because we haven't won yet this year, but also because of the special guests we will have with us from the Aflac Cancer Center. I'm sure Jody (Lawrence) would love to see the car she designed in victory lane on Sunday."
Aflac Cancer Center patient Jody Lawrence designed Edwards' paint scheme for the Pep Boys Auto 500 and will join the team as a special guest at the event weekend.
Slew of Sprint Cup Regulars to Appear in Degree V12 300 Nationwide Race
A contingent of 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup regulars is on the entry list for Saturday night's Degree V12 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Most notable on the entry list are Sprint Cup stars vying for the Nationwide title like Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards, in addition to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Georgia-native David Ragan, who recently claimed a Nationwide win at Bristol Motor Speedway. The list also includes a number of Sprint Cup Drivers eager to get seat time on Atlanta Motor Speedway at night prior to Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500.
Among the 15-driver list pulling double duty at Atlanta, four drivers hold five total Nationwide wins at Atlanta. Below are the drivers entered in both the Degree V12 300 and Pep Boys Auto 500 with relevant statistics in parenthesis:
- Ryan Newman, No. 1 (two-career Nationwide starts at Atlanta)
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 5 (three Nationwide starts at Atlanta with a second and third)
- David Ragan, No. 6 (Georgia native has two Nationwide starts at AMS)
- Kasey Kahne, No. 10 (three top-five finishes in seven Nationwide AMS appearances)
- Greg Biffle, No. 16 (one Nationwide win at Atlanta in eight starts)
- Kyle Busch, No. 18 (two top-three finishes in five Nationwide starts at AMS)
- Joey Logano, No. 20 (first-career Nationwide start at Atlanta)
- Jeff Burton, No. 29 (two Nationwide wins at Atlanta in six starts)
- Brian Vickers, No. 32 (top finish of seventh in four Nationwide starts at AMS)
- David Gilliland, No. 42 (31st in only Nationwide race at Atlanta in 2007)
- Carl Edwards, No. 60 (one win, two fourth places in four Nationwide starts at AMS)
- Joe Nemechek, No. 87 (one win in 11 Nationwide starts at Atlanta)
- Dave Blaney, No. 91 (second-place finish in 1999 Nationwide race at Atlanta)
- Paul Menard, No. 198 (four Nationwide starts at AMS)
- Tony Raines, No. 234 (best finish of 10th in Atlanta Nationwide races)
Record Turnout for Opening of Atlanta Motor Speedway Campgrounds
Atlanta Motor Speedway opened its unreserved campgrounds to throngs of waiting fans on Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. With crowds numbering in the hundreds for both unreserved tent camping and unreserved RV camping, the crowd represented the largest turnout in Atlanta Motor Speedway history for the opening of unreserved camping areas.
With fans arrive two weeks prior to the Pep Boys Auto 500 on Sunday, Sept. 6, queue lines for unreserved camping grew tremendously prior to the official opening on Saturday morning.
"This is a remarkable turnout and speaks volumes to the buzz surrounding our first full weekend of NASCAR night racing," said Ed Clark, Atlanta Motor Speedway president and GM. "We've had fans out her for more than a week already just waiting to be a part of history, Atlanta first NASCAR Sprint Cup night race.
"Atlanta Motor Speedway has hosted 100 Sprint Cup Series races, but our 101st marks the start of a new tradition," continued Clark. "Labor Day weekend NASCAR racing has returned to the South and is now a night race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This is what NASCAR fans have wanted for years."
The immense camping turnout caught some fans off guard.
"We're typically the fifth or sixth in line when we arrive the day before campgrounds open," said an unidentified fan from Jackson waiting in line. "We got here plenty early this time, but we aren't near the front of the line this year."