As the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series return to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the marquee Labor Day NASCAR night racing weekend, many drivers will sport new sponsors and vehicle designs under the lights in the Emory Healthcare 500 on Sunday, Sept. 5.
Of those with new looks entering Atlanta, Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kasey Kahne have a few of the most-interesting fresh paint schemes.
Gordon, a four-time Atlanta winner, will run the Emory Healthcare 500 in a special paint scheme "designed" by his three-year old daughter, Ella. The vehicle design, dubbed "My Papa's Car," was designed by Ella with finishing touches by NASCAR artist Sam Bass and Gordon's ride will feature the logo of the newly renamed Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation.
"I can't wait to run Ella and Sam's design, and I can't think of a better way to showcase the new Foundation logo and name than on that car," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet. "DuPont has graciously allowed us to run this scheme during one of their races, and I really appreciate their continued support of the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation in its efforts to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research."
Proving their product is "... designed for every size and every age," Montoya will put on his big boy britches in Atlanta as he wears a new sponsor on his hood for the Emory Healthcare 500, Huggies. The sponsorship with Montoya marks the first appearance for both Kimberly Clark and its brand Huggies to appear in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The sponsorship may also prove useful for Montoya if he claims any sponsor swag, as he and wife Connie welcomed a third child, Manuela, in July.
While Budweiser will still be prominently displayed on his vehicle, defending Labor Day weekend NASCAR Sprint Cup night race winner Kasey Kahne will feature a new vehicle design as Valvoline will have its colors featured on the usually all-red ride. Kahne has two-career wins inAtlanta and eight top-10 finishes.
NASCAR Driver Autograph Sessions and Appearances
A number of NASCAR notables will be making fan appearances on the Atlanta Motor Speedway property and around Atlanta leading up to the Emory Healthcare 500 race weekend.
Tony Stewart will sign autographs at the Office Depot location in the Buckhead Crossing Shopping Center in Atlanta on Piedmont Road at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 2. Wristbands are required for autographs and will be distributed to the first 350 customers.
Kasey Kahne will sign autographs at the Academy Sports & Outdoors location on Eisenhower Parkway in Macon at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 2.
Brad Keselowski will sign autographs at the Discount Tire location in Peachtree City on Friday, Sept. 3 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Petty will appear at the Krispy Kreme location in downtown Atlanta at 295 Ponce de Leon Ave.on Saturday, Sept. 4 between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
A group of Chevrolet-sponsored drivers – Jaime McMurrary, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman – will participate in question-and-answer sessions at the Team Chevy Display on Sunday, Sept. 5 beginning at 2:45 p.m. The Team Chevy Display will be located in the Display Lot. Montoya will participate first at 2:45 p.m., followed by Newman at 3:30 p.m. and McMurray will conclude the event at 3:45 p.m.
Newman will also appear at the U.S. Army Interactive Display at 3:50 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5.
Georgia-native David Ragan will sign autographs at his souvenir hauler at 3:45 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5.
Three-time Atlanta winner and 2004 NASCAR champion Kurt Busch will sign autographs at the Miller Lite souvenir hauler at 3:45 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5.
Martin Truex, Jr. will sign autographs at his souvenir hauler at 4:15 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5.
Late Model Legend Behind Friday's Your Georgia Best Chevy Dealers 150
While not a name fans would find on the front page of their local newspaper, BJ Parker is among the most-well known names involved with the Friday Fan Fest presented by Your Georgia Best Chevy Dealers at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday, Sept. 3.
Parker, a 46-year veteran of short track racing promotion, is the promoter and founder of the Southern Superstars Short Track Series, the sanctioning body behind the Your Georgia Best Chevy Dealers 150 on Atlanta Motor Speedway's quarter-mile "Thunder Ring" on Friday, Sept. 3.
Known for years of dedication to local racing heroes and small-town events that have produced a racing acumen unparalleled by many, the 77-year old and Hall of Famer's career in racing promotion literally started overnight.
After competing in race at Dixie Speedway in Midfield, Ala., Parker was called into the Speedway's offices. Speedway officials, after relying on a first-time scorer who was unable to maintain the order, called in Parker to assist with the race scoring. Immediately able to piece together the finishing order of the top-10 and without facing protest, the two owners of the Speedway contacted Parker the next day to offer him a one-third ownership stake in the Speedway and a career in race promotion was born.
Forty six years later – and after induction into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame and the Alabama Racing Pioneers Hall of Fame – Parker will guide his organization of late model racers to Atlanta Motor Speedway for a 150-lap slugfest under the lights. The race has even garnered the attention of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and Georgia-native David Ragan, who will compete in the event.
"It's always fun to go back to Atlanta to race anything and the schedule this year has allowed me to bring our late model Ford down there," said Ragan, an Unadilla native. "Friday night's race should be exciting and challenging. I grew up racing there in the Legends car series, so [Atlanta is] a special place to me. Having all those full-size cars on the quarter-mile [track] will be a lot of fun to watch."
In addition to Ragan, four additional Georgia natives – Bobby Castleberry (Rossville), Chris Dilbeck (Hampton), Lee Hansard (Tyrone), (Rossville) and Bubba Pollard (Senoia) – are slated to appear in the Your Georgia Best Chevy Dealers 150.
Probable entrants for the Your Georgia Best Chevy Dealers 150 include: Keith Cahela (Boaz, Ala.); Bobby Castleberry (Rossville); Marl Day (Clarksville, Tenn.); Nathan Davis (Graysville, Ala.); Lee Hansard (Tyrone); John Henegar, Jr, (Scottsboro, Ala.); Brad Lemley (Harvest, Ala.); Jeff Letson (Harvest, Ala.); Frankie Martin (McCalla, Ala.) Chase Oliver (Crossville, Ala.); Bubba Pollard (Senoia) Phil Renfroe (Harvest, Ala.); Jay Robinson, Jr, (Athens, Ala.); Chase Spradlin (Oak Grove, Ala.); and Chris Whorton (Boaz, Ala.).
Admission to the Friday Fan Fest presented by Your Georgia Best Chevy Dealers, including the Your Georgia Best Chevy Dealers 150, is free with a ticket to Saturday or Sunday's NASCAR races or just $10 without. Grandstand gates will open at 5:30 p.m. and other activities include a NASCAR question-and-answer session with drivers Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer and David Ragan, autograph sessions and a concert by Drivin' N Cryin'.
Cooler Weather Returns to Georgia in Time for Emory Healthcare 500
Initial weather reports for the Emory Healthcare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway feature comfortable temperatures and sunny skies for Labor Day weekend, offering NASCAR fans ideal conditions for a weekend party and giving Georgia a much needed reprieve from stifling summer heat.
Daytime temperatures are expected to range in the mid to upper 80s for the majority of the race weekend, with The Weather Channel calling for a zero-percent chance of precipitation for the Sept. 3-5 race weekend. With evening start times for all three racing events, overnight lows are expected to drop into the 60s each night, providing ideal conditions for Speedway campers over Labor Day weekend.
A NASCAR-minded weatherman, Brian Neudorff, a meteorologist at WROC-TV in Rochester, N.Y. and operator of www.WX-Man.com/NASCAR, has predicted weather in Atlanta, "... won't be much to talk about," calling for a cool front to move into Georgia overnight Friday and, "... cooler, less humid air will arrive for the weekend."
Neudorff predicts Friday's high temperature will be 93 degrees Fahrenheit, while temperatures will begin to drop towards an overnight low of 62 degrees during the Friday Fan Fest presented by Your Georgia Best Chevy Dealers. The forecasted high temperatures on Saturday and Sunday will hover near 86 degrees, with cool evening temperatures, and each day will feature, "Mostly sunny skies."
Neudorff's prediction is echoed by The National Weather Service and The Weather Channel, who each have similar forecasts for the Emory Healthcare 500 race weekend.
NASCAR fans can follow Neudorff on Twitter @NASCAR_WXMAN.
PRN Up to Speed Guests Announced
Performance Racing Network's "Up To Speed" will feature two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers for the weekly question-and-answer session on the SPEED stage.
Brad Keselowski and Elliott Sadler will participate in the "Up To Speed" event hosted by Performance Racing Network personalities beginning at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5 on the SPEED Stage. The SPEED stage is located near Bruton Smith Park in the Display Lot, located outside the Earnhardt Grandstand near the main entrance to Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Brad Keselowski finished 36th in his first-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March after Carl Edwards upended the rookie's vehicle in a remarkable wreck, ending Keselowski's race. Keselowski, who is also entered in the Great Clips 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, has fared much better in Nationwide contests in Atlanta with a fourth and sixth-place finish in just three starts.
Sadler has 23-career appearances in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway, with three top-10 finishes.
"The 'PRN Up To SPEED' program has been a huge success, giving our fans a chance to hear and see the drivers in a candid and fun environment," said Doug Rice, president and general manager of the Performance Racing Network and host of "PRN Up To SPEED" earlier this year. "The drivers have all been very cooperative in reaching out to their fans and it shows every time we go on stage."
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 visitwww.atlantamotorspeedway.com.