From the beginning, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway was pinpointed by drivers as a prime opportunity to make an early-season statement. Perhaps no driver took greater advantage of it than Jimmie Johnson.

Shrugging off a starting position near the back of the field, Johnson wasted little time charging toward the front when the green flag fell at the Speedway's premier NASCAR event on March 1. From the 37th position, he moved to the lead with just over 125 laps to go and was a constant at the front of the field, leading 93 of the final 127 laps for his first Atlanta win since 2007.

But the win meant more than an early-season victory for the No. 48 team. It also sent a clear message that one of the most renowned teams in the NASCAR garage is putting last season behind them. In 2014, Johnson had a down year by his team's standards - an 11th-place points finish even as six Sprint Cup championship trophies sat in its Concord, North Carolina shop.

Johnson and his team clearly took advantage of the second race of the season being at Atlanta, and the opportunity to run well there to set a positive early-season tone, giving his a pair of top-five finishes to start the year.

Johnson wasn’t the only driver cementing a strong start to the 2015 season at Atlanta. Kevin Harvick’s red-hot start to the season with no finishes worse than second, including a second-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and two wins in a row!

Martin Truex Jr. found similar success at Atlanta. His sixth-place finish at Atlanta has aided a start to the season highlighted by four finishes of eighth-place or better. By comparison, Truex posted a total of five top-ten finishes all of last season, making Truex yet another driver whose team is in a good early-season position thanks to the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

NASCAR may have already made its annual stop in Atlanta, but the impact of the event will be felt as the season goes on.