title – 28236

Race: Pep Boys Auto 500
Date: Sunday October 26, 2008
Track: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
Television Channel: ABC

by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com

This weekend’s race is one that could potentially help a few guys out in the Chase. Atlanta Motor Speedway is a great intermediate track for all of the Roush drivers. It’s also a good track for Kyle Busch, who could certainly just use the boost of confidence. It’s difficult to say, though, since Jimmie Johnson is the defending winner.

Atlanta is a little over a 1.5 mile quad-oval track. It has 24 degree banking in the turns and 5 degrees on the straights. The frontstretch boasts 2332 feet with an 1800 foot backstretch. This track is fast and big and has been on the circuit for quite a while. This is one of those tracks where anyone can really win, but the Roush guys have a special place in their hearts for it.

Kyle Busch won here in the spring, with Jimmie Johnson taking two titles prior to Busch. Other notables include Carl Edwards with two consecutive wins in 2005. Jeff Gordon has won here 4 times, but recently he hasn’t made much of a mark. Tony Stewart has a couple of wins, with Kasey Kahne always having respectable runs. I wouldn’t put Kasey Kahne out of the picture. These types of tracks are a specialty for him it seems. He always does well at the big flat tracks before getting rounded up in someone else’s mess.


That being said, I’m pulling for Edwards this weekend. Although I know Johnson is on a roll, this year has proven that there CAN be more than one winner on particular tracks and track history doesn’t always say much. Based on his performance and his love of Atlanta, I think that Edwards has something to prove here. He needs to make up for the debacle he created at Talladega regardless.

Pole winners seem to say a lot at these types of tracks as well, so keep an eye out on qualifying, granted it doesn’t get rained out for another week. Unlike the short track that we just came from where track position is important, these intermediate tracks allow for some trial and error when it comes to that sort of thing. Although starting up front seem to be where it’s at, there is a lot of possibility to improve position during the race.

I think that one of the things that these Chase guys need to work on is there pit work. We’ve seen a lot of challenges and set backs for guys because of mistakes on pit road, and most of them are from the drivers rather than the crews. Burton was penalized this past weekend for pitting outside his box. Jr. and Busch have both been penalized recently for speeding violations. Pitting is crucial and definitely plays into performance on the track as well as finishes. Losing one lap can cost a driver the Chase when it’s all said and done.

Just as a refresher, here are the current top 12 drivers:

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Greg Biffle
3. Jeff Burton
4. Carl Edwards
5. Clint Bowyer
6. Kevin Harvic
7. Jeff Gordon
8. Tony Stewart
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
10. Matt Kenseth
11. Denny Hamlin
12. Kyle Busch

Granted Johnson doesn’t make a mistake, I wouldn’t count him out of victory lane, but I think that Edwards is going to make a hard run for the win this weekend. Johnson really says that he is racing for the wins, but if he’s smart, he’ll take a second place and cruise to the Championship. At this point, it’s his to lose.