Race: Kobalt Tools 500
Track: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Date: Sunday March 9, 2008
Time: 1:30 pm ET
And we are off to another intermediate track much like Las Vegas but also very different in the same sense. Atlanta Motor Speedway is a track that is a favorite of many drivers. There is rarely a dull moment here, and there are several repeat winners. This track is one where any driver could win, but there are some who are just experts at its configuration. Its a track where Ryan Newman has gotten the pole seven times. Jeff Gordon has won here four times, Jimmie Johnson has won three times, and both Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards have won twice.
The COTs proved that an intermediate track could make a great race, as seen last weekend. Atlanta will be better. Its one of the fastest tracks on the circuit with 24 degree banking in the turns and 5 degree banking on the straights. Its a little more than a mile and a half.
I think that this will definitely be a track where Roush proves its a team to be reckoned with. Weve seen consistently this year so far that Roush is surprising us all with consistency and the ability to run up front for the duration of the race. Id have to say that it is most likely going to be between two Roush cars if I have my say. Matt Kenseth has 9 top tens and 6 top fives at Atlanta. Although he has no wins, hes hungry for one, especially with his Roush teammate outshining him. (Roush is not known presently for having the most amicable teammates). Carl Edwards has two wins at this track and always performs well. I think, however, that his steam is running a little low, especially after the sanctioned penalties this week. I do not think that he has the consistency of someone like Jimmie Johnson YET to pull off three wins in a row.
Speaking of Jimmie Johnson, he has won this race for the last two years. This is no surprise. This is like his standard track record. I do not think that he will be able to make it a third, though, because of his lack of consistency this year. There is something missing on that team right now. I am not sure what it is, but Johnson had no excuse other than a poor car last week, finishing two laps down. Jeff Gordon cant seem to catch a break. He has had nothing but bad luck. Last week, though, WAS his fault. He got loose and wiped out Kenseth and himself in quite possibly one of the worst wrecks that Las Vegas has seen. Needless to say, while Gordon is always a contender, I expect something to be a little misaligned once again this weekend.
Jr. nation may be in for another week of disappointment, if you can call a top five disappointment (as indicated by Jr.s melancholy attitude after a second-place finish last Sunday). While we ALL want to see Jr. win one, I do not think that this is the track for him. Jr. is not necessarily known for intermediate tracks and certainly not for this one. He has one win here, albeit four years ago, but I do not intend to see Jr. up front all day long.
Roush is in to surprise us, Im telling you! I think that it will be a Roush car if anything. I expect to see Kenseth in victory lane this Sunday. I think that Edwards and Biffle will consistently be up front, but I do not know if they are going to have the cars to beat the rest of the field. While I hate to speculate, maybe Edwards only won last week because of the issue that NASCAR found with his car. Dont get me wrong, Edwards can drive, but I do not see him making a three-peat just yet. Stay tuned. I dont think that you will be disappointed in the racing this weekend no matter who the winner is. Even if you dont like NASCAR, you ought to watch this one!