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Sunday, March 9
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Kyle Busch salutes the crowd in victory after winning the Kobalt Tools 500 in his Toyota; the first Sprint Cup Series win for the manufacturer.
Kyle Busch Gives Toyota First Cup Win
HAMPTON, GA (March 8, 2008) - His nickname is "Rowdy." They call him that because he runs his Joe Gibbs Toyota wide open.... all the time.
"Go or Blow!" That's Kyle.
And he did just that Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Start to finish, the young driver from Las Vegas kept his foot in the gas to win the Kobalt Tools 500. He became the first driver to win a NASCAR Craftsman Truck and a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in the same weekend.
He turned back a number of challengers during the sunny afternoon, including runner-up and teammate Tony Stewart in another Toyota.
It was a grueling Sunday for NASCAR's best drivers, who fought the steering wheel all day trying to get a handle on the slippery Atlanta surface.
Kyle Busch (left) with Joe Gibbs (right) during pre-race ceremonies; Gibbs owns Busch's No. 18 Sprint Cup team.
Busch's win was the first for one of the really nice guys in the sport, crew chief Steve Addington, who worked his way through the NASCAR ranks to his current position. Addington worked in several of the sport's development tours en route to matching up with one of the sport's youngest stars. In fact, Busch became the youngest winner ever for this event.
Trailing the two Gibbs drivers was popular Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who said it was the hardest he has ever driven and added, "but that's the way it should be."
Greg Biffle was fourth and two-time champion Jeff Gordon was fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 were Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers and Jeff Burton.
The ninth-place finish for Vickers came on the heels of not qualifying for last week's race in Las Vegas. His Red Bull Toyota fought back from being a lap down to crack the top 10.
It was a miserable day for Elliott Sadler, who caused three caution flags in a row when his car lost grip and spun.
Carl Edwards, winner at California and Las Vegas, looked like he might make it three in a row before his engine blew after 275 of the 325-lap race.
Earnhardt took the lead on the first lap and left Gordon and the rest of the field in the dust. His National Guard Chevrolet slid smoothly through the corners, and his lap times were more than half-a-second quicker than his rivals.
Busch moved from the sixth starting spot to second place in just a few laps but even Busch, who likes to run wide open every lap, couldn't keep up with Earnhardt's torrid pace.
J.J. Yeley suffered the first penalty of the cold, sunny afternoon when he entered pit road too fast for an unscheduled stop.
A caution for debris on the 38th lap slowed the field but Earnhardt had lapped half the field at that point.
On the restart, Earnhardt picked up where he left off.... at the front of the pack. Young Busch was next in line, but dropped back a considerable distance.
Edwards was next, trailed by Harvick, Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman, Martin Truex, Jr. and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who had his worst day in recent memory at Las Vegas last Sunday when he was never a contender.
Juan Pablo Montoya, who finished fifth here in Atlanta last March, had moved from 19th to 11th by the 60th lap.
Busch took the lead on the 60th lap when Earnhardt complained about losing the handle on his machine. The field spread out all around the 1.5-mile tri-oval at this point in the race.
While Busch sped away to a big lead, Earnhardt dropped to third when Edwards sailed past him. Edwards, however, couldn't hold the position. Both Earnhardt and Harvick passed him within a few laps.
|Carl Edwards leads Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon; Edwards - on a mission to win three races in a row - led
33 laps before blowing an engine.
Another caution for debris slowed the action at 84 laps and all the leaders pitted again.
Busch took over again when racing resumed and Hamlin took over the second spot behind him. Earnhardt was third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Gordon fifth.
Earnhardt moved around Hamlin for second a few laps later. On lap 116, Kasey Kahne lost grip on his Dodge in turn four, bringing out the third caution flag of the day.
It was Busch and Earnhardt again with Harvick, Bowyer and Gordon behind them. Stewart, who started 32nd, had worked his way up to sixth position.
On lap 129, Harvick moved past Earnhardt for second place. Earnhardt dropped to fourth behind Bowyer.
Shortly after the halfway point, when the field made its first green-flag pit stops, Bowyer came out leading with Busch second and Harvick third. Rounding out the top 15 were Hamlin, Edwards, Gordon, Earnhardt, Stewart, Jeff Burton, Ryan Newman, Kenseth, Montoya, Bobby Labonte, Johnson and Biffle.
Complete Race Results click here
Post-Race Point Standings click here
Victory Lane Interview With Winner Kyle Busch & Team click here
Post-Race Interview With Runners-Up Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. click here
Jimmie Johnson sports a winter tuque to stay warm as he climbs into his car for practice on a cold, blustery day in Atlanta. The two scheduled
practice sessions were combined into one after snow fell in the morning.
Saturday Final Practice Speed Chart click here Biffle fastest...
SNOW, Rain & Wind Changes Saturday Schedule
Snow showers, rain and strong wind is playing havoc with the Saturday schedule at Atlanta Motor Speedway. NASCAR Nationwide
Series qualifying has been cancelled and the two NASCAR Sprint Cup sessions have been combined for one session, set to start at approximately
The starting lineup for this afternoon's Nicorette 300 will be set by point standings.
At Noon/AT the temperature in Atlanta is 35 degrees (F) with a windchill of 23 degrees. The forecast high for the day is 39 degrees. Sunday's forecast
calls for sunny skies and 55 degrees.
Just imagine...It's 54.5 degrees in Halifax...
Jeff Gordon will start from the top spot Sunday after winning his 64th Coors Light Pole Award...
Jeff Gordon won the Coors Light Pole Award for the KOBALT TOOLS 500, lapping the Atlanta Motor
Speedway in 29.927 seconds at 185.251 mph.
Kobalt Tools 500 Starting Lineup click here
Complete Qualifying Results click here
- This is Gordon’s 64th Coors Light Pole Award in 513 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
- This is Gordon’s first Coors Light Pole Award and his third top-10 start in four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
races in 2008.
- This is Gordon’s second Coors Light Pole Award and 17th top-10 start in 32 career starts at Atlanta Motor
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. posted the second-fastest lap at 29.990 seconds, 184.862 mph and will join Gordon on the
- Martin Truex Jr. (third) posted his first top-10 start this season. He has started from the top-10 in two of his
seven starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
- Patrick Carpentier (21st) (30.574 seconds, 181.331 mph) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Joe Nemechek (17th) (30.504 seconds, 181.747 mph) was the fastest of the drivers that had to make the field
- Drivers that failed to qualify include: Ken Schrader, Bill Elliott, Johnny Benson, Burney Lamar, and John Andretti.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. climbs into his car to make the second-fast lap of the day during qualifying time trials - to score an all-Hendrick front row
for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500...
Practice: Friday, March 7 (SPEED at 4 p.m./AT)
Qualifying: Friday, March 7 (SPEED at 7:30 p.m./AT)
Practice: Saturday, March 8 (SPEED at Noon/AT)
Final Practice: Saturday, March 8 (SPEED at 1 p.m.)
RaceDay: Sunday, March 9 (SPEED at 12:30 p.m./AT)
Pre-Race Show: Sunday, March 9 (FOX & TSN-alt at 2:30 p.m./AT)
Race: Sunday, March 9 (FOX & TSN-alt at 3 p.m./AT)
*AT is one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: Kobalt Tools 500
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Track: 1.54-mile oval
The Distance: 500.5 miles/325 laps
TV: FOX, 2:20 p.m./AT, 1:30 p.m./ET
Radio: PRN, SIRIUS Satellite Radio
2007 Winner: Jimmie Johnson
2007 Polesitter: Ryan Newman
Pre-Race Schedule (local track time/ET): Friday—Practice, 3-4:30 p.m.; Qualifying, 6:45 p.m. Saturday—Practice, 11-11:45 a.m.; Final Practice, 12:20 -1:20 p.m.
Year-To-Date Standings click here
Event Stats PDF files unless otherwise noted
Pre-Race Pit Stops
- Ryan ‘The Rocket’ Newman Likes His First Lap Out Front...Starting up front is nothing new for Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge), especially with a nickname like ‘The Rocket’.
Newman is tied for first with Buddy Baker for the most poles at Atlanta Motor Speedway with seven each. But Newman has never been able to parlay his great starting position into a win at Atlanta.
Newman’s longtime coach and mentor Baker has done just that winning the 1979 spring race from the pole. Fourteen drivers have won from the pole, more than any other starting spot — most recently Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge) in 2006.
Newman notched six consecutive poles through 2003-2005 and grabbed his seventh last year in this race.
This week leading up to the Kobalt Tools 500, Newman talked about how special breaking the tie with Baker would be.
“Atlanta has always been a place where I like to qualify, and it would be an honor to get the all-time pole record there. Buddy Baker really helped me throughout my racing career, and that’s why we named the car we won the Daytona 500 with after him.”
“We always drove the tracks backwards because it gives you a different perspective of entry and exit points. That's something we did at Atlanta when he was teaching me about the track and I have always qualified well there, so I think it would be an honor to both of us if I am able to get my eighth pole there this weekend.”
- Jimmie Johnson Looks To Be The First To Make It Three Straight...After one of the most impressive seasons in NASCAR history last year the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway pursuing his third consecutive victory after sweeping both races last season. Atlanta has been one of Johnson’s most proficient stops on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, posting eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes including three wins (2004, and sweeping both races in 2007) in 13 starts.
The NASCAR Loop Data statistics show Johnson is at the top of several pre-race categories at Atlanta, including Driver Rating (118.2), Average Running Position (5.652), and Laps in the Top 15 (93.7%).
Rick Hendrick co-owns the No. 48 with Jeff Gordon and Hendrick has the second most wins at Atlanta with 10, behind the Wood Brothers’ 12.
This weekend Johnson looks to do something no other driver has done — win three in a row at Atlanta. Six times a driver has swept both Atlanta races in a single season: Marvin Panch (1965), Bobby Allison (1972), Bill Elliott (twice: 1985, 1992), Carl Edwards (2005), and Johnson (2007). And although the No. 48 team struggled at Las Vegas last week - Johnson finished 29th with an ill handling car - with an Average Finish of 9.7 look for the No. 48 car to improve upon its 14th-place points position.
- 60 Years Of NASCAR: Atlanta Motor Speedway...NASCAR’s 60th Anniversary celebration continues this weekend, as the three national series heads to one of the most historic tracks in the sport.
Atlanta Motor Speedway hosted its first race in 1960, with Fireball Roberts taking the checkered flag. Since then, Atlanta’s Victory Lane has enjoyed a conveyor belt consistency of NASCAR champions. In total, 61 of the 97 Atlanta winners have won NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships.
And for 14 years (from 1987-2000), the series champion was crowned at Atlanta, which was then the final race of the season. One of those finales is considered an epic moment in NASCAR history. The 1992 finale at Atlanta was Jeff Gordon’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race, Richard Petty’s last race and featured what was then the closest points finish in history – Alan Kulwicki edged Bill Elliott by 10 points to win the championship.
- 2008 Raybestos Rookie Of The Year Class Update...The 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year class reads like a list of who’s who of open wheel racing over the past several years. Names like Sam Hornish Jr., Dario Franchitti and Patrick Carpentier.
Dario Franchitti (No. 40 Fastenal Dodge) Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 77 Penske Truck Rentals Dodge) and Regan Smith (No. 01 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet) are heading to Atlanta looking to improve their points positions because all three are sitting outside the top-35 — 36th, 38th and 39th respectively.
All three drivers have started the first three events on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, but Hornish Jr. has the highest finish of all three with a 15th at Daytona. Franchitti and Smith both got their best finishes this season at California — 26th and 31st respectively.
Patrick Carpentier (No. 10 Cintas Dodge) made his first start of the 2008 season last week at Las Vegas, but was caught in an accident on Lap 116 — he finished 40th.
- Time Has Come For Teams Flirting With Top-35 Cut-Off...For the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams residing in the proximity of the 35th position in car owner points, the time has come to get it in gear. Atlanta Motor Speedway is the fourth stop on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, and the second to last chance for teams in the top 35 of the 2007 car owner points to guarantee themselves a spot on Sunday.
Dave Blaney (No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota) driving for Bill Davis Racing sits on the bubble this week - 35th in the owner point standings with 212 points. Casey Mears (No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet) is currently 34th in the points after having a turn around season last year winning his first race at Charlotte and posting five top-five and eight top-10 finishes. But Mears hasn’t been able to carry his momentum from last season to this year after being in accidents on two consecutive weekends — Daytona and California.
- Georgia Natives Coming Home...Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Target Dodge), Bill Elliott (No. 21 Little Debbie Ford) and David Ragan (No. 6 AAA Ford) are all from different parts of Georgia, but all call Atlanta Motor Speedway their home track. Sorenson is from Peach Tree City just 30 miles away from Atlanta. Elliott is from Dawsonville some 58 miles from Atlanta. Ragan is from Unadilla about 120 miles from Atlanta.
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