Tag:Atlanta Motor Speedway
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:44 pm

NASCAR triple header at Atlanta in 2012

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 11, 2011) – For the fourth consecutive year, Atlanta Motor Speedway will host the biggest Labor Day party in the USA with the running of the 53<sup>rd</sup> annual AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series night race on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012.

The 2012 AdvoCare 500 will be a part of NASCAR’s yearly stop at the historic 1.54-mile speedway on Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2012. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will race 200 miles on Friday night, Aug. 31, while the NASCAR Nationwide Series will battle under the lights for 300 miles on Saturday, Sept. 1.

“We eagerly anticipate the return of three nights of NASCAR racing under the lights here at Atlanta Motor Speedway,” said AMS President and General Manager Ed Clark. “We will once again host our passionate fans as they celebrate the biggest Labor Day party in the USA, and we’ll be adding many activities throughout the weekend for everyone to enjoy and participate in.”

In addition to the AMS NASCAR schedule, the popular Thursday Thunder Legends racing series will return for eight weeks of action on the quarter-mile “Thunder Ring.” The series will run June 7-July 26, with a special Wednesday, July 4 race that will include fireworks 

The sixth season of Friday Night Drags & MCR Safety Show-N-Shine will begin with an April 27 event and will take place on Fridays through Aug. 17. There will be no racing on May 25. The series will resume for two season-concluding dates on Sept. 14-Sept. 21.


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Posted on: September 6, 2011 6:14 pm

Jeff Gordon, Alan Gustafson post Atlanta comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

THE MODERATOR:  We welcome at this time Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet.  Winner of today's AdvoCare 500.  This is his 85th victory in 642 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, placing him solely in third place on the All-Time Wins list, also his third victory of 2011 and fifth victory here at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  Talk about the race today.  I know you're full of emotion and a little bit about the special presentation in Victory Lane as well.                

JEFF GORDON:  Yeah, everybody knows when Mike Helton speaks he has a way with words.  So to be up there, get presented that beautiful plaque that they put together with all the victories, just looking back on all the people that have contributed to it from Hendrick Motorsports, different crew chiefs and crew members and guys in the engine shop.  I mean, it's a team effort.           

To win 85, you know, is unbelievable.  And to do it here at Atlanta.  I'm not sure really to kind of rank everything, because the significance of this win today, the timing of it, doing it here in Atlanta on such a tough racetrack, battling with Jimmie, the bonus points, the 85th win, the momentum that this team has got right now and the race cars we're taking to the racetrack.  Man, this is cool.          

THE MODERATOR:  Alan, from your perspective, obviously with this win and the finish here today, Jeff clinched a top 10 spot in The Chase.  Your thoughts being with this team this year and being part of such memorable finishes and a memorable year for Jeff Gordon?           

ALAN GUSTAFSON:  Yes, this was one of the racetracks that we felt, like Jeff alluded to, we had a lot of momentum; but we felt like we struggled on the mile-and-a-half high banked tracks, Texas and Charlotte.  This is one of the tracks we felt like to be an elite team and contend to win the championship, we'll have to do well on these style of racetracks.           

So really pleased to do that.  Had a really fast car.  Jeff did a great job.  And it was a lot of emotions today.  There was times where I felt like, man, we were going to win the race and there was times where we were tenth, like it was going to ring out.  So it was up and down and a long time coming.  But a great day, nonetheless.           

And Jeff alluded to it about the 85 wins, it's awesome accomplishment for him.  I think he's super deserving of all the accolades he gets throughout his career, not only for a race car driver but for being a great person, and it's a big deal for Hendrick Motorsports also to have Jeff solely in that third position.  It's a real great accomplishment for our company.           

THE MODERATOR:  Questions?           

Q.  Jeff, how important do you think it was to sort of deliver a message to the 48 team that you guys are in championship form and we can beat you by holding them off here in those last few laps?          

JEFF GORDON:  I think everybody recognizes how strong they are, and that you can never count them out and those guys are running really strong right now as well.  And I think the last couple of weeks we've been able to send a great message to all our competitors of how strong this team is, how good our race cars are.          

I love the fact we go to -- at Bristol I felt we had a car that could win there.  Then we come to a big mile-and-a-half track like this and we do win.    

Certainly a great battle between me and Jimmie.  A lot of fun out there racing him.  Man, I was sliding around.  This track really, really freed up as it laid rubber down.           

And I'm kind of glad we had that break, because it tightened up after that, and we needed that.           

So had we needed to run and make one more run, I don't know if we could have gotten it tight enough.  But when you've got a five-time champion -- and I have a lot of respect for Jimmie and that team -- and when we pulled out after that last stop and we pulled away from him, I was like -- I felt pretty good.  Pretty comfortable.  The car was driving perfect.  And then all of a sudden, with about 15 to go, it started to really loosen up.  And I was hoping to look up and see him loosening up as well.           

If he was, he wasn't showing it, because he was coming hard.  And I made a few mistakes trying to search around and try to figure out if I could get my car to drive a little bit tighter.  And I just had to go back to what I was doing.  I had to get to the bottom in 3 and 4 and the top in 1 and 2.  So that kind of maintained a little bit, but he was a little bit better than me at 1 and 2.  And he had a couple runs at me.           

And I think when he got underneath me and didn't complete the pass, to me that's what allowed me to go, okay, we still are going to win this race.  I just can't make mistakes.         

So I know that it was a great message.  But I think that we're having a lot of fun right now.  The race cars are awesome.  And we've got a lot of momentum.  So we can't wait to get to next week, Richmond, as well as get this Chase started.

Q.  Jeff, you alluded to this just now.  But just if we can backtrack a little bit.  Just when did you think you pretty much had this thing in the bag when, as you said, he couldn't quite get by you, at what point?  Because there was about 10 laps or so it was very much of a dogfight?           

JEFF GORDON:  Listen, my emotions -- I can't imagine what these guys were going through on pit road, but mine were going up and down.  I made a comment about, man, we're done, the thing's just got too loose.  Alan was encouraging me:  We can get it done.  My spotter, Jeff Dickerson, did a great job as well.  So Jimmie got underneath me off of 2.  It was probably like five or six to go.           

And I kind of cleared him.  Then we got into 3 and he got right up on me got real loose and got underneath me.  But when he didn't complete the pass, you know, gave me a little bit of hope.  But I didn't -- I mean, it was a nailbiter all the way to the end.  He got real loose off of 4 coming to take the white.  And I think that was the turning point.  I really do.  I think had he gotten underneath me off of 2, I was getting so loose over there, and if he could have got to the bottom into 3, I don't know if I could have held him off, off of 4.  It would have been a great battle either way.  But he got real loose off of 2.           

When that happened, it gave me a little bit breathing room where I could go down to the 3 and drive the car straight and not push the issue and not get the car real sideways.  Every time I stood in the gas off of 2 the car would step out and lose momentum.  That's where he was gaining on me.  I was able to drive it straight when he got loose off of 4.            

Q.  Today we heard stuff about tires lasting, but also wearing out.  Tony talked about the character of the track, touching it, repave it.  We saw side-by-side racing at the end by you and Jimmie.  What were the ingredients you think that added up to what turned out to be a really good race from start to finish?           

JEFF GORDON:  I mean, I think that any racetrack that we go to that has a pavement that is of this consistency, that has worn, has aged, that is abrasive like this, and as long as Goodyear can find a tire that can hold up in these kinds of conditions, then this is the ultimate track and ultimate place.           

When you've got a track that cars are running on the bottom, the middle, the top, both ends of the racetrack, you know, and the drop-off in speed from the beginning to the end of the run, that to me is what you want to see in a racetrack.           

So I think that if you look at Kansas and Chicago and these tracks that now have some age on them, those are the best tracks that we go to.  They're finding a little bit better ways doing the progressive banking on new paves.  But I think all of us prefer these older surfaces.           

We understand that they've got to stay together, the foundation and everything.  These start seeing the seams and the cracks.  Obviously it's tough to hold these high-banked tracks together like this.  Sometimes they have to do what they have to do like Phoenix did.  But for all of us as competitors we prefer to keep it like this.            

Q.  Jeff, do you recall how long it's been since you won a race in a car that was that loose and might that be a little part of the rejuvenation you feel that you were talking about on TV a while ago?           

JEFF GORDON:  Well, the car wasn't loose the whole run.  It was just loose there at the end.  And that's why Jimmie caught us, just because we got too loose.  But I gotta say that right now the rejuvenation is going to the racetrack and having race cars that are driving as good as the ones that I'm driving.           

To me, it's not about being loose or tight it's about having a fast race car that you can lean on it.  You can maneuver around the track.  You can pass with.  You know, and you can adjust.           

When I can give information to Alan that we're not panicking, we're not way off, he can make those great adjustments that keep us in the game and keep us improving as the race goes on.           

So I credit Alan and his group.  These guys have been just unbelievable this year in how they listen to the comments that I say, the belief that they have in me, and now the confidence that I have in them in what they're bringing to the racetrack.            

Q.  And also, just again specifically talking about those last 10 or 12 laps, but I asked Jimmie if he was surprised or disappointed to lose a duel of loose race cars considering he's so notorious for that.  And he said, well, I know what his setup is and it was a ton tighter than mine.  The last 10 or 12 laps, were you as loose as he was from what you could see?           

JEFF GORDON:  Well, I mean, I think his car would just roll the middle a little bit better.  So he could kind of roll into the corner and keep the momentum.  But he was pretty loose off as well.           

My car was a little bit tighter through the center.  But it was as loose up off the corner, for sure.  But I think that at the end there, as hard as we were all pushing, you know, I think that we had about the same amount of grip.            

Q.  Alan, you mentioned that you said you guys felt like you had struggled on the mile-and-a-halfs.  After today's run, do you feel like you guys have solved your problems on the mile-and-a-halfs are is there still a lot of work to be done?           

ALAN GUSTAFSON:  I don't think you ever solve your problems.  I think we've improved a lot.  Obviously our performance today shows that.  And we tried some different directions and I feel like that we're getting some good validation on the things we're trying.  And so we can understand how to take that a step further and improve.           

So this gives us -- it's very encouraging for Charlotte and Texas.  Two very similar racetracks, even though they're not near as rough.  But we feel like we've learned some pretty good stuff today.  And we're excited about bringing that stuff back to these other racetracks and being able to perform this well at Charlotte and Texas.            

Q.  Jeff, I'm sure if you've been around Bobby Allison very much lately.  He claims 85 wins as well.  A lot of historians agree with him.  I'm just wondering what you consider on that issue?           

JEFF GORDON:  You know, that's what's encouraging to try to get to 86.  As far as I'm concerned I'm probably still tied with Bobby.  And as long as it's in Bobby's head that we are tied, then that's still a great thing.           

So it's to be debated for sure.  I started getting a little bit more of the story last week at Bristol from his brother and talking about how I guess there was Grand National cars against Cup cars or whatever it was back then.  And so it's interesting when you hear the story and the debate of why they feel like they're at 85.  But listen I'm just thrilled to be at 85 in the company that I'm with.  Bobby and Darryl, and you look at being behind David and Richard, it's something very significant.  Something I'm very proud of.  And with the kind of racing that we have right now, though, I gotta say I think we can get free and clear of Bobby, if we have a few more things go our way.            

Q.  (Off microphone).           

JEFF GORDON:  The way things are going, the way the team has rejuvenated me and the confidence they have in me and the confidence I have in what I'm doing now, anything is possible when you've got this guy as a crew chief.            

Q.  Where do those final 20 laps rank in your own personal memory?           

JEFF GORDON:  It's going to rank way up there because we won.  You gotta understand from where I was sitting it was very frustrating and intense.  I mean, I felt like I was swatting flies inside there.  I was so loose.  And I was just trying to squeeze the throttle down to get a little bit of an edge, and when I did that, the whole back end would slide out.           

One time I brushed the wall off at 2.  You know, I really to me it's going to stand out in your mind as a great one and a great battle, because of the victory.           

And certainly when you're battling with a guy as talented as Jimmie is and that team as good as they are, definitely it's going to be one that's going to be significant.  And I gotta say, I mean, that's the kind of race team we have right now.  We've not been able to do battle with those guys like we have been able to this year.  Especially the last several weeks.  And that's what's got me extremely excited.           

It's not just them, it's the 17, the 99, a lot of guys that I think we're going to have to do battle with in this championship when it starts.  That just feels awesome.            

Q.  I remember in Vegas last December somebody mentioned you hadn't won a championship in a while.  You kind of joked about it a little bit.  But you talk about the rejuvenation process.  Did any of that start a little bit in the off season get you forward-thinking, you're going to hit 40, a lot of milestones coming up, 10 years since you won a championship, were you thinking more, not that you'll be less focused, but time to step it up a little bit this season, given some of the dynamics you're working with?           

JEFF GORDON:  I've been trying to step it up for 10 years.  I think that The Chase format is definitely more challenging.  Those ten tracks are significant ones.           

I feel like we've had good years, and even when I go back to -- what was it? -- '07 when we battled with Jimmie and won races in The Chase and everything else but we still couldn't get it done.           

To me, it was more about how can I play a role as a driver and give the feedback to Alan and his group and get myself settled in with this team and make sure that I'm doing the job that I'm capable of doing and that I feel like they think that I'm capable of doing.           

And so it's been a new relationship.  And there's excitement that comes along with that and kind of you can sort of start over.  And that felt really good in a way because I saw the excitement in the guy's eyes in the shop when I walked in there the first couple of times.           

Now to be able to build on that and show those results has only made us a stronger team.  So it all comes down to -- it's not about me just deciding one day I'm going to step it up or not step it up.  It's that I gotta do my job and they've gotta do their job and we've gotta come together and build chemistry and connect and just be on the same page when it comes to running races.  And that's what I love about this group, and Alan and these guys.           

It kind of leads back to the earlier question, where it's like driving a loose race car.  It's not about driving a loose race car, it's about getting the car right for each driver.  And Alan went from Mark Martin who does drive a very loose race car to me.  And yet we're still having results because they say what do you need, Jeff.  And here's what we think we need to do to allow you to do what you need to do.           

And that to me is what makes up a great team.  And they've been able to find the tools to do that for me.            

Q.  About this time 19 years ago you make your debut on the Sprint Cup Series here at Atlanta since then this racetrack has weaved itself in and out of your career as far as highlights.  Can you talk about that?  You clinched championships here and have this fantastic finish here today.  You've won here five times.  No. 85 here.  Could you talk about how this racetrack has intertwined itself into some of the career highlights for you?           

JEFF GORDON:  I've always enjoyed this racetrack.  To throw another one in there, my first Busch or Nationwide win came in here.  That's where Rick Hendrick recognized me and where we kind of connected.           

And then running my first race here, winning some big races here, kind of clinching the championship or celebrating the championships here.  So this place has always been a place I've enjoyed going to.  Plus I just think it's a great racetrack.           

The surface and the slipping and the sliding around and having to run up against the wall in 1 and 2 and down at the bottom 3 and 4.  And it's a challenging racetrack.  And it can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  And it's been a good track for me over the years for the performances as well as the memories.           

Q.  You talked about this rejuvenation.  You talked a little bit about it before.  But when you look at the stats, after 25 races last year, you had nine top 5s and 13 top 10s -- I mean, you had ten top 5s and 13 top 10s, nine top 5s, 13 top 10s this year.  The difference obviously the three wins from this year to 0 from last year.  But looking at the numbers, other than the wins, it's almost the same.  So what --           

JEFF GORDON:  Are you looking at laps led?            

Q.  Obviously that's another factor.  But what do you see and how do you do that because just looking at those numbers people could say in some ways --           

JEFF GORDON:  This is why winning is big.  You know, winning is huge.  It might only be worth a few more points, and it might only be one number there in the stats, but it is huge for the momentum and confidence in team building and heading into The Chase.           

Yeah, you know, we had a strong season last year.  But because we didn't win, you know, it just kind of took the wind out of our sails.  We were like, gosh, we're good, but we're not great.           

And right now we're great.  That's what we have to try to maintain when The Chase starts.  We're going to be tested on that for sure because the competitors will all step up, and we have to step up as well.           

So that's the real difference there, is that it's the fact that we have won.  We've proven that we can win.  I think you have to win to be able to win the championship and you also have to send a message to your competitors that they know you can win.           

And also the laps led.  To me it's like getting top 5s is important because if you can get top 5s it shows you can win.           

If you get enough top 5s, usually you'll find yourself into Victory Lane.  The same thing with leading laps.  You lead enough laps, you're probably going to find yourself getting to Victory Lane.           

And so I think those two things are very significant right now the laps led and the fact that we're pulling off the wins when we're strong.            

Q.  Based off of that, how do you compare with where you've been the last few years; is this the strongest you've been at this point going toward The Chase since when?           

JEFF GORDON:  I mean, this is to me the strongest that -- I mean '07 we were strong.  But you know the difference in '07 was I dreaded going to Phoenix in '07.  And I know that the track has changed you know since earlier this year where we won there.  But I'm looking forward to going to Phoenix, because Alan is, he's really good there.  And they build great race cars for that type of racetrack.      

We've had to work really hard this year at the mile-and-a-half stuff.  That's what I love.  Right now our momentum has shifted to make us better at those tracks.  They're going to be significant in The Chase.  I feel like when you go into the debriefs and you're talking to the team in the meetings and you look at how we're planning, you know, how we're improving and the areas that we can get better in and how we're addressing it, to me this is the best that we've been since I can remember.  Certainly since The Chase has started

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Posted on: September 6, 2011 6:00 pm

Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart post Atlanta

Posted by Pete Pistone

Jimmie, we'll start with you.  Talk a little bit about the race today.  You took over the points lead.  You're leading by 21 points over Kyle Busch.  Could you talk about your run out there.          

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  We're just having a terrible lead out there.  Glad to be leading in the points.  Haha, nobody? All of our regulars are gone already.  (Laughter) there's a laughter.  Perfect.           

We had a great day today.  The first two runs the car was pretty bad.  And Chad made some great adjustments on pit road to get the car in the track to where I could carry any speed in and through the center and then use the throttle off.  Before that I was on ice and couldn't drive the car.           

At that point we worked our way through traffic, which was very difficult to do and raced the top four, top six off and on.  Had the lead a little bit.  And at the end Jeff caught me and passed me at the run before and I felt I ran the tires off the car.           

So I took my time and knew we had a 38-lap run or something like that, Chad mentioned to me once we got rolling after that last caution.  And I just felt like I should take care of my stuff until the end.  And sure enough I started catching them.           

But I just didn't have enough to get by.  I got inside of him a couple times.  Got to the outside once.  And just didn't have enough regroup to kind of get there and stay there.  And the time I got to be outside of him, I felt I was going to be in good shape.  But I think we had a lap car get in the way there and use me as a pick a little bit, couldn't complete the pass.           

Awesome day.  Happy to see a Hendrick car in Victory Lane and a great day for the Lowe's team.          

THE MODERATOR:  Tony, finishing third.  Could you talk about Atlanta and going into Richmond in a few days.           

TONY STEWART:  Really happy.  I will say this:  If Ed Clark decides to repave this racetrack, I'll personally shoot him myself.           

This place is so racy, so much fun.  Like Jimmie said, you could -- here more so than anywhere we go to, you actually have to take care of your tires and budget them for your run.  And that's what makes it fun here because guys overdrive run their cars, run too hard on the front and then they fall off the last half.           

But, man, we had an awesome car at the end, especially, gaining eight and a half seconds on the leader there was definitely an awesome run.  And we had a lot of guys we got back in those last ten laps.           

So helped us out going into next week, obviously.  And like Jimmie said, just I'm really proud of everybody at Stewart Haas Racing for their dedication.  They keep persevering and pushing it to make it better each week.  It's been a tough last couple of months.  But I appreciate everybody in our shop, the road crews.  And Ryan making The Chase, getting locked in today, and just all of our partners and sponsors.                       

Q.  Tony, is it better that you kind of gain points and maybe solidified more your position as far as The Chase goes, or the fact that you ran well and maybe things look a little brighter as far as The Chase goes in a couple of weeks?           

TONY STEWART:  I would say probably the first more so than the second.  I mean, once we leave here, what we get here doesn't mean anything next week as far as performance.  But those points are big going into next week for sure.           

So I wish what we did here transferred over to Richmond next week, but it doesn't.  But I'm really proud of the effort that everybody gave this week.  And I don't know whether we're 23 or 24 points ahead of the 2 car now.  But we definitely gained a couple on him today.  And it may come down to one point.           

So having the strong finish that we had may be the difference of making it or not making it next week.             

Q.  Jimmie, you joked about you've done terrible this year.  But does this have any feel like last year, last year all the talk was about Benny, and this year maybe there's not as much talk about you.  Again, you have to feel good, I assume, about where you are right now?           

JIMMIE JOHNSON:   Yeah, I do.  And truthfully, from a driver's perspective, a team's perspective, we're involved with our -- our viewpoint is just the reality inside of our race team.  And very little outside discussion or talk influences what's going on in our minds.           

I mean, we know the reality of our race team and if we're a contender or not.  And I feel we're building in that direction and we're getting stronger each week.  We still have weak points.  We still are not qualifying like we need to.           

And at some point in the race we seem to have the car pretty far off.  But the good side of that is Chad and Greg find a way to fix it.           

They did today within two pit stops.  Got the car -- I was going to go a lap down, the first car in front of the 24 going a lap down and drove away from them.  I was able to race my way back up there and actually fight them for the win.  So there is a lot of, in the reality inside, is we know we've got a very good chance of winning the championship.           

It comes along -- that's what I was trying to get you guys to laugh a little bit about, the bad year and all that --  as time goes on and I have more experience and go through this more, certainly having more fun along the way, too.             

Q.  Jimmie, it seemed pretty clear the last several years that you've been more willing and able to drive a loose race car than Jeff has.  How long has it been since you've seen him win when his car was that loose, and did it kind of surprise you that he was so willing and able and that you actually lost a battle of sideways to Jeff?           

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  I hadn't put a ton of thought into it.  His car didn't look -- I mean, every car around here, and I know what the setup was, and it was much tighter than mine.  But through it all, I mean to race that hard for a win is what we all wake up and are excited to do each and every time we get in a race car.           

I wish I could have won, but I have a lot of satisfaction in racing my friend and teammate.  And it's Jeff Gordon that hard for a win.           

May not have had the dominance that we'd seen before in recent years, but it's still Jeff Gordon.  And it's so cool to race that hard with him.  And even if I did come in second, it's okay.  I'd much rather have won.  But we left it all out there on the track.  And he got it done today.            

Q.  Jimmie, was the rain going on on Sunday, how was the grip at the beginning of the race?  Was the speedway very green or --           

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Yeah the track was definitely green.  And I know the way that we anticipated the track to start was far different than the reality.        

We worked on our cars and submitted them for inspection on Sunday and obviously didn't have a chance to work on them coming in today's race.  And the balance and grip level changed dramatically on the track.           

It would take our car, after the delay, everybody picking up rubber, especially the start of the race, it took a couple of runs for our car's balance to get close to where we set the vehicle up to be and what we expected.        

So it was a different racetrack today and the temperatures being low put a lot of grip in the racetrack.

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Posted on: September 6, 2011 5:25 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 6:31 pm

Speed Read: Atlanta

By Pete Pistone

AdvoCare 500 final results

AdvoCare 500 Recap 

Jeff Gordon’s all for talking about his resurgence in 2011 but the four-time champion wants to be clear about one thing. 

Don’t call it a come back. 

“I don’t think we ever went that far away,” Gordon laughed after scoring his third win of the season in Tuesday’s rain-delayed AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

Gordon may not have fallen into the category of also-ran in recent years but he was off the radar for a while. 

Although in the thick of the championship fight in 2009, Gordon went more than two years without a win until his victory at Phoenix back in February. 

He’s since rattled off a couple more and with only one race left in the regular season is ready to do battle for title number five when the Chase begins in two weeks. 

“I think this is turning out to be a great year,” Gordon said after his hard fought battle against teammate Jimmie Johnson for the Atlanta win. “Alan Gustafson (crew chief) and all the engineers and all the guys that work so hard; the awesome pit crew, man we’re having a lot of fun right now. And when you can drive a race car that drives like that one, it makes me look like a hero but they’re the heroes in my mind.” 

Gordon has now surpassed a number of drivers he once considered heroes when he made his Sprint Cup Series debut at the very Atlanta Motor Speedway back in 1992. Tuesday’s win was his 85th career victory and leaves him behind only Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105) on the series all-time win list.

“…wow, that is unbelievable,” Gordon said in victory lane when he was informed of his historic accomplishment. “I’m just blown away at the kind of day we had and the kind of year that we’re having. I just feel rejuvenated in such a big way. It’s because of this race team and the racecars I get to drive. 85 yeah!” 

Don’t be surprised if there’s another celebration in Gordon’s future this season involving a fifth Sprint Cup Series championship trophy. 

"....to me this is the best that we've been since I can remember.  Certainly since The Chase has started," Gordon said confidently.



Brad Keselowski  

Locked up at least a Wild Card spot in the Chase with another solid day and a Top 10 finish. Keselowski had to rally back from some early race challenges to finish sixth but the Blue Deuce remains squarely in the hunt to make some noise when the Chase kicks off in two weeks. 

Tony Stewart  

Had a good car most of the day but put on a furious charge in the closing laps to come home with a third place finish. That puts Stewart 23 points ahead of 11th place and inches him a bit closer to locking down the final Chase transfer spot via the standings. 

Denny Hamlin  

Still has hold of the second Wild Card berth and appears to be in pretty good shape heading to his home track in Richmond on Saturday night. Hamlin hammered down a second straight Top 10 with his eighth place performance on Tuesday and perhaps more importantly didn’t suffer any engine issues for a second straight superspeedway race.



Clint Bowyer  

His Chase chances took a major hit thanks to a tangle with Juan Pablo Montoya that ended up with Bowyer hitting the wall and getting knocked from being competitive with a badly damaged race car. He’s not mathematically out of the run for a playoff berth but for all intents and purposes it looks like you can put a fork in the 33 team’s hopes to see redemption in this season’s Chase. 

David Ragan  

The news broke late last week that UPS was cutting its NASCAR sponsorship way down and Roush Fenway Racing would have sponsorship from the company for a mere half dozen races which virtually seals the deal regarding Ragan’s return to the team next season. Adding insult to injury he exited Tuesday’s race with an engine failure. 

Bobby Labonte  

A guy who used to own Atlanta Motor Speedway back in the day, Labonte suffered through a particularly disappointing day on Tuesday. He first slid through the infield grass early in the race before ending his day with a hard crash into the backstretch inside retaining wall. A far cry from when the two-time series champion called Atlanta his playground.



(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs)   

 I'm not running this s&*$%^ next time." – Dale Earnhardt Jr. 

"All right boys, get yourself a good seat and watch the show.'' – Darian Grubb 

"I don't mean to be a smartass (but) what I need ain't fixable.'' – Kyle Busch to crew chief Dave Rogers 

"Are you on the same page that I am on" "I"m not sure you understand the terminology of which I am saying." – Denny Hamlin to crew chief Mike Ford 

"You can't race around the jackass. Everybody in this sport knows what you're up against when the 42 comes around." – Clint Bowyer after his tangle with Juan Pablo Montoya



On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I’ll give Tuesday’s rain-delayed AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway a four. There isn’t an intermediate-sized track on the schedule that generates better racing than Atlanta Motor Speedway and despite all the weather-related issues of the weekend including the pesky delays for mist on Tuesday, the actual racing was spectacular. Gordon and Johnson put on an epic battle in the closing laps with actual hard racing – no “Boys Have at It” intentional spinouts – to provide a thrilling end to a long and soggy weekend in the A.T.L.



It’ll be a short turnaround for Sprint Cup teams with Tuesday’s rain-delayed Atlanta race and then Saturday’s final regular season event at Richmond International Raceway. The last race to decide the Chase field has been a bit tame in recent years but that should change on Saturday as the new Wild Card policy has done its job and made the race to get into the playoffs pretty interesting and exciting. The Wonderful Pistachios 400 has a chance to be one of the best races of the season. No pressure, right?

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @ppistone on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


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Posted on: September 6, 2011 6:50 am

Rain still in Atlanta forecast

By Pete Pistone

The weather may still play havoc with Tuesday's rescheduled AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Heavy rains washed out the race from its schedule Sunday night start time and with the area receiving more than four inches of rain on Monday, NASCAR officials postponed the event until Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. ET.

But the National Weather Service has a 30 percent chance of rain in the forecast early Tuesday morning, improving to 20 percent into the afternoon and evening.

Reports from the track early Tuesday morning indicate the 11 a.m. start may be delayed as a heavy overcast and drizzle remain in the area.

Should the race not be run today, NASCAR has indicated a Wednesday morning make good is planned.

The Sprint Cup Series is due at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night for the final race prior to starting the Chase in Chicago on September 18.

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Posted on: September 4, 2011 9:51 pm

Rain washes out Atlanta until Tuesday

By Pete Pistone

Heavy rains and a potential flash flood warning forced NASCAR officials to postpone Sunday's scheduled AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway until Tuesday morning.

Despite some optimism Sunday night when an area of clear skies moved over the track, more rains came just past 9:30 p.m. ET forcing officials to pull the plug on the 25th race of the season.

With a 100 percent chance of heavy rains and a warning of possible floods in Monday's forecast, NASCAR decided to push the event back until Tuesday morning at 11 A.M. ET.

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Posted on: September 4, 2011 10:47 am
Edited on: September 4, 2011 11:00 am

Heavy rain threatens Atlanta

By Pete Pistone

Sunday night's AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway is in the middle of a serious game of chicken with Mother Nature.

The National Weather Service has an 80 percent chance of rain slated to hit the area after 6 p.m. tonight, putting the 7:45 p.m. green flag for the 25th Sprint Cup Series race of the season in jeopardy.

Making the matter even worse is the fact once the rains begin they are slated to hang around the area for the next couple days with the weather service putting a 100 percent chance of precipitation in Monday's forecast. 

NASCAR may move up the start of the race by about ten minutes in an effort to try and at least get halfway in the 500-mile event and the track obviously has lights to allow officials extended time in hopes of completing the event after delays.

Weather knocked out the scheduled Watkins Glen race three weeks ago and forced it to be moved from its original Sunday date to the following Monday morning.

A Monday morning plan would most likely be NASCAR's hope should tonight's even get washed out completely.
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Posted on: September 3, 2011 11:29 pm

Kasey Kahne wins Atlanta pole

By Pete Pistone

Kasey Kahne will lead the field to green in Sunday night's AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Kahne won the pole with a lap of 186.196 mph for his second pole of the season and 22nd of his career. It was also Kahne's second pole at AMS with his last resulting in a win in 2006.

Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Brian Vickers and Jeff Gordon rounded out the Top 5.

Sunday night's race is slated for a 7:30 p.m. ET green flag but an ominous weather forecast that includes an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms threatens the event.


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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com