Jimmie Johnson, driving the Lowe's car, made a late race pass on Tony Stewart then went on to win the Kobalt Tools 500.
More event pictures in the Photo Gallery at the end of this page.
Johnson Records Second Win in as Many Weeks
HAMPTON, GA (March 18, 2007) - Jimmie Johnson passed Tony Stewart with three laps to go Sunday to win the Kobalt Tools 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Johnson, defending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion, chased Stewart down and passed him after a restart with less than 15 laps remaining.
Stewart drove the wheels off his Home Depot Chevrolet, slapping the outside retaining wall in the waning laps with Johnson nipping at his heels. The brush with the wall forced Stewart to back off a little and Johnson drove away down the stretch.
Johnson's win was his second this season. He won at Las Vegas last week.
Trailing Johnson and Stewart were former champion Matt Kenseth, resurgent Jeff Burton and the amazing Juan Pablo Montoya.
This was Montoya’s first time at the Atlanta track and he kept his car in contention throughout the brisk, sunny, Sunday afternoon.
Montoya, too, grazed the outside retaining all a few laps from the finish. His fifth-place position was his best since joining the NASCAR circuit this year.
Trailing Montoya was Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr. Reed Sorensen and Mark Martin.
Sorensen's ninth-place finish gave Chip Ganassi racing two cars in the top 10.
Four-time champion Jeff Gordon wound up 12th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 14th. Kurt Busch finished 11th after a pit road speeding penalty sent him to the rear of the field.
Johnson, Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Gordon, Sorensen, Burton and Earnhardt ran at or near the front during the first half of the 325-lap race over the 1.5-mile tri-oval.
Johnson, Kenseth, Busch, Gordon and Stewart seemed to be the class of the field.
Montoya continued to impress fans, bringing his Texaco/Havoline dodge to 10th before the second round of pit stops. Montoya finished eighth in Saturday’s NASCAR Busch series race. It was the first time the former Formula 1 star from Colombia had raced at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Fan favorite Mark Martin, who led the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point race for several weeks, made his last appearance for the Ginn Racing team until the Texas race. Martin is not running the full schedule this season. Rookie driver Regan Smith will take over the U.S. Army Chevrolet next week at Bristol.
Event Facts, Post-Race
3/13: Toyota Looks to Atlanta for Turnaround
3/13: Storylines - Atlanta
3/14: Driver Generousity Keeps Victory Junction Gang Camp Rolling
3/14: Gordon Looking for Points Lead in Atlanta
3/15: Elliott's Atlanta Entry Erroneous
3/16: KOBALT Tools 500: By the Numbers
3/16: Practice (PDF)
3/16: Qualifying Order (PDF)
3/16: Qualifying Results (PDF)
3/16: Starting Lineup (PDF)
3/17: Saturday Morning Practice (PDF)
3/17: Final Practice (PDF)
3/18: Race Results (PDF)
3/18: Point Standings (PDF)
- Jimmie Johnson won the Kobalt Tools 500, his 25th victory in 187 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.
- This is his second victory and third top-10 finish in 2007 – all top-threes and all in the past three races.
- This is his second victory and eighth top-10 finish in 12 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
- Tony Stewart finished second as Johnson and Stewart reversed their finishes at Atlanta last fall. Stewart has posted 11 top-10 finishes in 17 races at Atlanta, all in the past 12 races here.
- Matt Kenseth finished third, this third top-five finish in his last four races at Atlanta.
- Brian Vickers led laps 89 through 91, the first laps led by a Toyota in a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race.
Event Facts, Pre-Race
The Race: KOBALT Tools 500
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, March 18
Green Flag: 3 p.m. (AT), 2 p.m. (ET)
TV: FOX, 2:30 p.m. (AT), 1:30 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: 1.54-mile oval
Distance: 500 miles (325 laps)
2006 Winner: Kasey Kahne
2006 Pole: Kasey Kahne
Pre-Race On-Track Schedule (Local Times): Friday—Practice, 3:30- 5 p.m.; Qualifying, 7:10 p.m. Saturday—Practice, 10-10:50 a.m.; Final Practice, 1:20-2:20 p.m.
Pre-Race Point Standings: click here
Practice: Friday, March 16 (SPEED at 4:30 p.m. AT, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Qualifying: Friday, March 16 (SPEED at 8 p.m. AT, 7 p.m. ET)
Final Practice: Saturday, March 17 (SPEED at 2 p.m. AT, 1 p.m. ET)
Pre-Race: Sunday, March 18 (SPEED at 12:30 p.m. AT, 11:30 a.m. ET)
Race: Sunday, March 18 (FOX at 2:30 p.m. AT, 1:30 ET)
- Ryan Newman won the Bud Pole for the Kobalt Tools 500, his 38th Bud Pole 192nd career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races.
- This is his first start better than 19th in 2007 and his first Bud Pole since New Hampshire last July.
- This is Newman’s seventh Bud Pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He posted six straight Bud Poles here, sweeping 2003 through 2005. Newman has started from the top 10 in 10 of his 11 Atlanta races, including nine starts from the front row.
- There have been four different Bud Pole winners in the first four races of 2007.
- Seventy-four of the 95 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Atlanta have been won from the top-10 starting positions, including nine of the last 12.
- Mike Bliss was the fastest of the 16 drivers that had to make the field on time and qualified for his first race of 2007. His last race was at Homestead in the 2006 season finale.
- None of the three races this season have been won by a top-10 starter. The best start by a race winner to this point in 2007 is 23rd by Jimmie Johnson at Las Vegas.
- Only six of the 30 top-10 starters have finished in the top 10 in the first three races of 2007.
- Scott Wimmer, Ward Burton, John Andretti, Michael Waltrip, Kenny Wallace, Kevin Lepage, Jeremy Mayfield and A.J. Allmendinger failed to qualify.
Keys To Victory
- 3/18: NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter said late Saturday that an agreement had been reached that will allow Gordon to
advertise Motorola's digital audio player on his car. That solves the problem created by the original basic Motorola insignia,
which was seen as a way of promoting wireless phone service. Nextel, the title sponsor of the Cup series, owns exclusive
rights to promote wireless phone products. Only those wireless companies already in the sport when Nextel took over in 2004
can advertise competing products.
- 3/17: Ryan Newman will be at the rear of the pack when the race starts today. His crew was forced to change engines during
practice Saturday. Team president Don Miller said a problem was found with a piston. His crew had to change engines after
qualifying, so Ryan Newman will start at the back today instead of on the pole.
- 3/15: Ryan Newman has a chance to carve his name in the AMS history books, alongside NASCAR great and Newman coach Buddy Baker
during Georgia Power Qualifying night, Friday, March 16. Newman currently has six poles at AMS, all coming consecutively between
March, 2003 and October, 2005. Before Newman started winning poles at AMS, Baker coached him on the high-banks of Atlanta Motor
Speedway, teaching him the preferred line around the track. Some of Baker’s pole-winning magic apparently wore off on Newman.
Buddy Baker has a record seven poles at AMS including three consecutive poles between the spring of 1979 and spring 1980 and
is the only driver other than Newman to win more than two poles in a row at AMS. Newman leads all active drivers with six poles
at AMS, but could join Baker as the only seven-time pole winners if he is able to top the speed charts during qualifying on
Friday night. “Atlanta’s a smooth, fast track,” Newman said. “It is great from a driver’s standpoint and it must be even better
from the fan’s perspective.”
- 3/14: Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) is 36th in the standings and looking forward to coming to Atlanta. Only two races
remain until the field will be set each week by the 2007 car owner standings. Currently the top 35 in the final 2006 car owner
point standings are guaranteed starting positions through the first five events of the season. That will change prior to the
sixth event of the season when the top 35 slots revert to the 2007 owner standings. Atlanta kicked off Kahne’s momentum last year;
it’s where he went posted his first win of the season. Kahne went on to win six races and race his way into the Chase for the
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.
3/14: Bill Elliott (No. 37 Front Row Motorsports Dodge) will attempt to qualify for this weekend’s KOBALT Tools 500. Elliott has had
much success at Atlanta, sweeping both races in 1985 and ’92. Elliott also won in 1987 totaling five wins at one of NASCAR’s
fastest track. click here for more
- 3/14: Mark Martin is leading the standings heading into Atlanta this weekend, and the big question on everybody’s mind is, will he
step out of the driver seat going into Bristol? Coming into the season, Martin had planned to share his ride with Regan Smith,
but getting out of the car may be more difficult than it sounds. Martin has posted three consecutive top fives. He is scheduled to
run 22 races, and tutor newcomer Regan Smith in the other 14 events.
Atlanta Motor Speedway’s keys to succeed this Sunday...
Atlanta Motor Speedway Is Known For Close Finishes
- Racing groove will be wide – Atlanta typically provides drivers with a wide racing groove to operate on. Those who take advantage of it best will have the most success.
- Maintain good balance – It’s important to keep the car balanced from start to finish.
- Track Grip – It’s the time of year that weather could be a factor. A cool afternoon could result in more grip on the race track; a warm day could lessen the amount of grip.
Some of the closest finishes in NASCAR history have happened at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Since NASCAR started electronic scoring in May 1993, Atlanta has been producing close finishes. The track has been hosting NASCAR-sanctioned events since 1960, and some of the best names in the sport have had success there. Atlanta has had three of the top-11 finishes since the advent of electronic scoring. Two of the three rank in the top five.
The most recent was in 2005 when Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) edged out Jimmie Johnson on the last lap to beat him by .028 seconds for the 11th closest finish.
The next closest finish happened in 2000 when the late Dale Earnhardt crossed the finish line just before Bobby Labonte (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge), beating him by .010 seconds for the fifth closest finish.
Perhaps the most well-known close finish at Atlanta was in 2001, when Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet) beat Jeff Gordon just by the nose of his car. Harvick’s photo finish edged Gordon out by .006 of a second making it the third closest finish.
Photo Gallery - Sunday, March 18
Jimmie Johnson leads Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon to a mid-race restart.
Pit road was a busy place...
Robby Gordon's car displayed the Motorola Digital Audio Players branding decals after working out an agreement with NASCAR regarding conflict with
series sponsor Nextel.
Jimmie Johnson's post-win burnout got a 10 out of 10!
Johnson celebrates in Victory Lane.
Photo Gallery - Friday, March 16
Ryan Newman won the Budweiser Pole award for the Kobalt Tools 500.
Ricky Rudd prepares for practice.
Richard Childress (left) talks with Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet, during practice on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Childress
was the car owner for Dale Jr.'s father, Dale Earnhardt.
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