The Chase for the Sprint Cup picture is shaping up to go down to the wire at Richmond. With the series making their annual Labor Day weekend stop at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the AdvoCare 500 will play a major role in deciding who is in and who is out come playoff time.
After last weekend's race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Brad Keselowski has all but claimed a spot in the Chase. With his third win of 2011, Keselowski has enough wins to lock himself into a Wild Card position, assuming he maintains his top-20 positioning in the standings.
When you consider how hot the No. 2 team has been during the month of August, Keselowski may pilot the blue deuce into the top-10 and not need the aid of the Wild Card. Keselowski finds himself 21 points outside of the top-10 heading into Atlanta, and a couple of good runs leading into the Chase may propel him into the top-10.
With Keselowski out of the picture as a Wild Card, several drivers would then be fighting for the Wild Card spots in the Chase. Denny Hamlin and Paul Menard are both in the top-20 and are Wild Card eligible with their wins earlier this season. David Ragan and Marcos Ambrose lurk just outside the top-20 and moving up a few positions in the points standings would also make them eligible for Wild Card consideration.
At the same time, a few of the sport's superstars find themselves winless and desperately clinging to Chase hopes. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Tony Stewart both remain in the top-10 without taking checkered flags this season. If the Chase started today, they would be set. But if Keselowski moves himself into the top-10, one of these drivers could find themselves needing a win to make the playoffs. At the same time, Clint Bowyer remains outside the top-10 and is winless in 2011. A win at Atlanta could go a long way towards moving him into playoff contention.
With so many different scenarios in play, the AdvoCare 500 is a crucial stop for several drivers looking to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Several Drivers to Run Multiple Races at AMS This Weekend
While this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 will feature the usual cast of characters, several of those drivers will also tackle the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series races on Friday and Saturday nights.
Friday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race will have a trio of Sprint Cup superstars competing. Kyle Busch will pilot the No. 18 Toyota, prepared by his own Kyle Busch Motorsports team. Clint Bowyer will climb behind the wheel of the No. 2 Kevin Harvick, Inc. Chevrolet for DeLana Harvick. And Ryan Newman will return to the Camping World Truck Series with a No. 08 Chevrolet prepared by Turner Motorsports.
Saturday night's Great Clips 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race will feature several Cup drivers looking to get a feel for the 1.54-mile speedway in preparation for Sunday night's main event.
Among the 43-car starting field will be Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, and Carl Edwards as they look to learn something extra to help their vehicles during the AdvoCare 500.
For Busch, the Great Clips 300 will be his second of three races during the weekend, as he will be going for another weekend sweep by running all three races under the lights at Atlanta.
Newman to Honor Local Racer Beau Slocumb at AMS
Ryan Newman's ride for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event Friday night will feature a look that many area fans will find familiar. Newman's truck will feature a paint scheme similar to that of Macon-native Beau Slocumb.
Slocumb and Newman met on the pit lane at AMS several years ago, and became fast friends. Slocumb passed away earlier this year from cancer, and this truck is Newman's way of fulfilling a dream for his friend.
"He was a good man and it's just as simple as that," said Newman. "He became a friend of mine and we actually met the Slocumb family at Atlanta Motor Speedway and I had asked Ed for a good place to go fishing in the area and he said 'why don't you come down to the Slocumb house?' So I drove about 50 minutes down to the Slocumb house and fished for a little while and got a chance to meet Beau and the rest of the family and turns out he became a very good friend and we had a lot of things similar, lifestyle-wise and long story short he lost a battle with cancer.
"He was employed at Turner Motorsports and working on the trucks and it was his dream to race a truck and he had raced an ARCA car for Steve Turner there a couple times and think his best finish was 4th at Kansas if I remember right but it's just a way to remember him and give his family an opportunity to see something that he always wanted to do and his name is going to be on the passenger side on top of the roof and just real thankful for having Realtree and Brandt to step up and sponsor the race for us and for a way to just give back to the memory of someone else. Steve Turner may have been a bigger Beau Slocumb fan than I was and never got a chance to watch Beau race much but he was a very genuine man and was raised right and that is what struck me first and foremost."
NASCAR night racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway this Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2-4. Tickets for the AdvoCare 500 start at $39 and $19 for students. Children 12 and under admitted free for the Great Clips 300 and the Atlanta 200 with an adult ticket. For more information, call the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (877) 9-AMS-TIX, (770) 946-4211 or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.