Kevin Harvick and his racing organization, Kevin Harvick, Inc., have won each of the last two NASCAR secondary-series events to accompany a NASCAR Sprint Cup race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Returning to Atlanta for the Great Clips 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race during the Emory Healthcare 500 race weekend, Harvick will look to win back-to-back Nationwide Series races in Atlanta.
Harvick won the inaugural NASCAR Nationwide Series night race at Atlanta Motor Speedway last Labor Day weekend. Returning to the track in March and competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Harvick again proved victorious on a Saturday race in Atlanta.
"Atlanta has been a really good track for us and it seems like we have a really good base set-up, the only difference [between the Sprint Cup and Truck Series] is the tires," explained Harvick. "You have that added variable in there because you don't know how the Nationwide car is going to react. We ran good with the same stuff in the trucks, so hopefully going back it's still a race track that works good for us and our confidence is really high."
And with his Truck Series win in March, Harvick has also won in all three of NASCAR's nationally-touring series in Atlanta.
"I think that it is pretty cool," Harvick said of the accomplishment. "Anytime you can win in any of the top-three series, it makes for a lot of fun, let alone win in all of them at one track. I know there are a lot of race tracks where we have won in a couple of races in a couple of different divisions, but not in the Truck divisions. Hopefully we can knock a few more of those off, but Atlanta has been pretty successful for us."
ESPN's Erin Andrews Participates in Ride Along at AMS
ESPN reporter/host Erin Andrews joined former NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett for a few laps around Atlanta Motor Speedway on Thursday to preview the on-track action expected during the Emory Healthcare 500 on Sunday, Sept. 5.
Despite growing up in the South, the trip to Atlanta Motor Speedway marked Andrews' first trip to a NASCAR facility.
"I've been to probably the biggest events in all of sports – the Super Bowl, both college championships and the World Series – but I have never been to a NASCAR race," said Andrews.
Prior to her ride with Jarrett, Andrews appeared confident and touted her thrill-seeking credentials – until the former NASCAR star started the high-powered car.
"I love Space Mountain at Disney World, and I'm assuming this is not like it at all but we'll see," Andrews joked just before Jarrett cranked the engine. "Okay. That just made me nervous."
The duo made approximately six laps around the Speedway, with Jarrett riding within inches of the Atlanta Motor Speedway wall.
Immediately upon exiting the car, Andrews exclaimed: "Forget football! I'm doing this now." But knowing her bread is buttered on the gridiron, Andrews quickly let the media know she was, "... just kidding."
Further maintaining her playful demeanor with the media, when asked how fast Jarrett drove, to which he replied 170 mph, Andrews quickly countered with "185."
While the experience was an enjoyable cross promotion for the ESPN talent, the experience also reinforced Andrews' respect for NASCAR's stars behind the wheel.
"I was telling Dale as soon as he could hear me, this gave me such a different perspective and so much respect for these guys do," explained Andrews. "I was just on a track by myself [with Dale] and I was [laughing] like a little kid. I can't imagine all the other cars being on the track and trying to worry about passing them, maintaining position and winning the thing and don't hit them or the wall.
"This was one heck of an experience, she continued. "I can't imagine doing it with other drivers on the track and it really opened my eyes. I have always had respect for these people, but now it's different and this was amazing."
Hendrick Looking to Rebound in the Emory Healthcare 500
As Hendrick Motorsports returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Emory Healthcare 500 on Sunday, Sept. 5, the organization that is traditionally strong in Atlanta will look to rebound before entering the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
In the past three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, the four drivers from Hendrick Motorsports – four-time champions Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, plus Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – have just one combined top-10 finish. More telling of their struggles, the group widely-regarding as NASCAR's strongest organization finished worse than 25th on five occasions.
Despite their struggles, the Hendrick organization is hoping a return to Atlanta Motor Speedway, a track they have often dominated, will get their season on track prior to the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The organization has seven wins in Atlanta since the track's redesign in 1997 and, since Earnhardt joined the team joined in 2008, at least three Hendrick drivers have finished 18th or better in each Atlanta race.
Cancer Survivor, Racer, Tapped for Emory Healthcare 500 Honorary Starter
Wayne Wayne Reese has been racing motocross and super late model cars on dirt tracks for more than 11 years, and he knows the risks. One risk he won't take, however, is with his health.
Reese, a prostate cancer survivor, will be the Honorary Starter at the Emory Healthcare 500 to be held Labor Day weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In this role, Reese will drop the Green Flag to start the race. In addition, his son Brian will drive his Reese Motorsports Super Late Model Number 33 in the pre-race parade.
"If someone asked me, I'd tell him to make sure he got his prostate test when he turned 50," he says. "I got lucky one day and listened to my wife who told me I needed a physical. That's how they found the cancer."
Reese, 55, recently completed therapy at Emory University Hospital's Department of Radiation Oncology. He says he knew he wanted to be treated at Emory because his wife, Linda, was treated at Emory's Winship Cancer Institute for breast cancer in 1996. "We appreciate all the help we've gotten there."
Reese Motorsports runs two late model rocket chassis cars on dirt tracks throughout the Southeast. Rocket chassis cars are the highest class of local stock car racing at many racetracks throughout the United States. Many current NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers and crew chiefs raced in this classification early in their careers.
While Reese and his son have been racing for many years, their aspirations received a boost in 2009 when Reese, while stopping at a grocery store for a Moon Pie and a Coke, bought a winning mega-millions lottery ticket. Twelve millions dollars later, neither he nor his wife or son have changed much.
"It was certainly a life-changing event," says Reese, "but we really haven't changed. I've worked all my life building up my septic tank, grading and remodeling business. I've still got the same guys working for me. I can dress up when I have to, but I still like to wear the same ol' clothes."
Notable Driver and Crew Quotes on AMS and the Emory Healthcare 500
As NASCAR's best drivers descend upon Atlanta Motor Speedway for this weekend's Emory Healthcare 500, glowing comments emerge about what is widely regarded as one of the most popular racing facilities on the circuit.
Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet Impala:
"You're dirt tracking at 200 miles per hour around a big race track. You have to get up on the wheel to make things happen, but hold onto the car and don't let it get out from underneath you. Most of the time, you're really loose as the back end of the car is trying to come out from underneath you. It happens about every corner on every lap. It doesn't matter what line you're in either. You could be on the white line or all the way up at the wall. Either way, you're loose all the way around the track. In order to be good on the long run, you have to be really loose on the start of it."
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala:
"Atlanta is a crazy race. The track has two different personalities. You have the qualifying race track that is screaming fast, and then you have to race on a race track that has no grip ... it's just a bizarre race track. Going to a place like that is a lot of fun, but it's also one of those places where it's really easy to make a mistake. Atlanta has been a good race track for us so I have high expectations going into that race."
David Gilliland, driver of the No. 37 Taco Bell Ford Fusion:
"Atlanta is just really fun. You run all over the track, looking for grip constantly throughout the race, and you're kind of sliding around while doing that. It's a lot of fun when your car is good, but it's not so fun when it's not. It's a track I always look forward to going to."
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford Fusion:
"Atlanta is a track where you not only race your competitors, but you race the track. It's really high-banked and fast. You start off fast and the track gets slick, so you're always looking for a different groove and for more grip. The cars are tougher to drive and they move around a lot more than the old cars used to, so you want to make sure that your car isn't too loose in the turns. When the track gets slick, you've got to have a good-handling car, so that you can get into the corners. I always have a lot of fun racing at Atlanta, and I'm looking forward to racing Sunday night with our Crown Royal Black team."
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Reserve Chevrolet Impala, on the possibility to break a tie with mentor Buddy Baker for the Atlanta track record for poles:
"It would be an honor to set the pole record in Atlanta and we'll do everything we can to achieve that milestone. Atlanta is one of the best tracks we go to for three- and four-wide racing in the corners. I've always enjoyed Atlanta, especially during qualifying."
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry:
"I absolutely love racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It's one of my favorites and that's a good thing considering the track is in NAPA Headquarters backyard. Both Pat Tryson and I have had good runs there. Pat won there last year with Kurt Busch. I've come close to winning several times including this past spring. We simply got caught up in the wreck on that green-white-checkered finish. I feel like you can really drive the car hard there. The track is really wide and you'll see guys running up top, in the middle and down low. I like the fact that we won't be fighting for one lane. If you are faster than a guy, you can find a way to get around him."
Donnie Wingo, crew chief of the No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion:
"I really like racing at Atlanta. There are multiple grooves and the tires wear out fast so it makes the driver have to work their way around the track to find different lines. It really is a challenging track because of the rate the tires wear out. So if you aren't too fast to start with and you can be consistent on a long run, you'll be better off in the end. Atlanta is home to David [Ragan, driver of the No. 6 UPS entry] and our sponsor UPS, so we're looking to get a good finish for everyone."
Show Times Announced for Boost Mobile FreestyleMX.com Tour at AMS
One of the most-well received fan events during Atlanta Motor Speedway's inaugural Labor Day NASCAR night racing weekend is back for 2010, as the Boost Mobile FreestyleMX.com Tour returns to the Atlanta Motor Speedway Display Lot during the Emory Healthcare 500 race weekend, Sept. 3-5.
The Boost Mobile FMX Tour will feature freestyle motocross superstars performing incredible jumps and gravity-defying airborne stunts, as they soar overhead between massive take-off and landing ramps in the Atlanta Motor Speedway Display Lot. The Display Lot is located outside the Earnhardt Grandstand near the main entrance to Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Top riders who have appeared in the Boost Mobile FMX Tour include superstars Carey Hart, Brian Deegan and Travis Pastrana, among others.
The Boost Mobile FreestyleMX.com Tour will perform on Saturday, Sept. 4 and Sunday, Sept. 5 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. On Saturday, performances will take place at 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., with a Tech Talk preceding the 5:30 p.m. event. Sundays shows will take place at 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m., with a Tech Talk preceding the 5:45 p.m. event.
The biggest Labor Day party in the USA is at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Emory Healthcare 500 race weekend on Sept. 3 -5. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX, or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.