Atlanta weather forecasts remain outstanding for this weekend's Pep Boys Auto 500 and Degree V12 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Saturday's forecast for the Degree V12 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race calls for mostly sunny conditions with a high temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service. There is a minimal risk for precipitation.
Sunday's forecast for the Pep Boys Auto 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race calls for mostly cloudy skies, likely providing comfortable shade for many tailgating prior to Atlanta's first night race. The National Weather Service forecast calls for a high temperature of 84 degrees, with a 20-percent chance for precipitation.
AMS Fly Over to Feature Four F-15 Eagles
Four F-15 Eagle tactical fighters will perform the pre-race fly over prior to Pep Boys Auto 500 and Degree V12 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend.
Atlanta Motor Speedway's pre-race festivities will include four members of the "Bayou Militia," the 122nd Fighter Squadron of the 159th Fighter Wing of the Louisiana Air National Guard.
The 122nd Fighter Squadron is tasked to provide air superiority over the Gulf Coast in support of USNORTHCOM and NORAD. The group is based out of the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in New Orleans.
Atlanta Motor Speedway Paints Inside Stripe Yellow
Atlanta Motor Speedway has painted the track's inside racing groove stripe yellow in an effort to aid drivers in spotting the line during the Speedway's first full weekend of NASCAR night racing. In addition to the change in color, the new paint included reflective glass beads, making the stripe more noticeable under the lights.
After receiving input from Sprint Cup drivers Kurt Busch and John Andretti urging him to paint the line from white to yellow, Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark acted on the advice and changed the stripe's color preceding this weekend's Degree V12 300 Nationwide Series race and Pep Boys Auto 500 Sprint Cup Series race.
"Kurt [Busch] and I talked following our most recent Goodyear Tire Test and he expressed a concern that the line was difficult to see at night," said Clark, who also worked at Bristol and Lowe's Motor Speedway when those facilities added night racing. "John [Andretti] and I discussed the concern on the phone and he shared the sentiment, so I knew this was a necessary change for our first NASCAR Sprint Cup night race."
Labonte, Winningest Active Driver at AMS, Back in Pep Boys Auto 500 Entry List
One day after he was replaced in favor of rookie Erik Darnell, Bobby Labonte has found a ride for the 2009 Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Labonte will replace David Gilliland in the No. 71 Chevrolet for TRG Motorsports and attempt to qualify for the Pep Boys Auto 500, according to NASCAR's latest entry list. Labonte has six-career wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Labonte, the 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, would normally automatically qualify for the event as the Series' most recent past champion not guaranteed a starting position. However, because he was a late entry, the automatic entry berth does not apply.
Labonte will be replaced by Darnell in seven-of-12 remaining races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule, but will compete in the No. 71 Chevrolet in during those events. He will return to the No. 96 Hall of Fame / Yates Racing car in the other five events.
Sprint Cup Driver Quotes on Atlanta Motor Speedway
Ryan Newman, with six pole wins in Atlanta, on qualifying and night racing:
"I love qualifying at Atlanta -- it's such a fast track that puts you at the edge," stated Newman. "It would be nice to set the pole record, beating out my good friend Buddy Baker. Regarding the race at Atlanta, you need the entire package -- speed, aero and handling. It's easier said than done, but that's what it takes to compete there. We'll be ready."
Denny Hamlin, who participated in AMS' most recent tire test, on night racing:
"I think it'll be really exciting under the lights at Atlanta," said Hamlin. "It's a race track that produces some exciting finishes and I think the fans will like the atmosphere that comes with running under the lights. From the competition side, we're prepared for the conditions knowing we are in for a really big change, but we had a good tire test at Atlanta not that long ago, so I feel like we can go back with a good idea of what to expect."
Elliott Sadler, who has three top-10 finishes in Atlanta, on the date change:
"It's great to have the Labor Day race back in the Southeast," said Sadler. "Atlanta is a great race track - it's fast, high-banked and multi-grooved so you can run anywhere. I think the biggest thing this weekend is racing under the lights. It'll add speed to an already fast race track. You add in the double file restarts to make it more interesting. I think it's going to be like the racing we saw in Charlotte for the All-Star race and the Coke 600. I'm really looking forward to an entertaining race."