Atlanta Handicaps

Matt Kenseth- Kenseth has a pair of fourth place finishes (including this spring’s race) and a pair of ninth place finishes in nine Cup starts at Atlanta. But when he finishes poorly he tends to finish very poorly as evidenced by a 37th and 40th place finish here. Kenseth has top 10 finishes in his last three Cup starts at Atlanta.

Kevin Harvick- Few people will every forget Harvick’s emotional win at Atlanta in 2001 in what was only this third Winston Cup start. Fewer will recall he also finished third at Atlanta that fall. And he’d probably prefer you not to recall he hasn’t finished better than 19th here since then.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.- Earnhardt struggled here early in his career but now has four consecutive top 10 finishes at Atlanta including a runner up result in the spring of ’01 and a fourth place finish here this spring. Could be due.

Ryan Newman- In one of those odd statistics, Newman has finished tenth at Atlanta in all three of his Winston Cup starts. My guess is he’ll finish better than that this weekend.

Jimmie Johnson- Johnson finished third here last spring but his other three finishes have all been outside the top 20 including a 32nd place mechanical DNF here this spring.

Jeff Gordon- Gordon has three wins at Atlanta most recently in the spring of 1999. He was also runner up here this spring. He’s only missed a top 10 finish twice in his last ten Cup starts at Atlanta.

Tony Stewart- Stewart struggled here earlier in his career but has top 10 finishes in his last four starts here and top 5 finishes in the last three Cup races here.

Bobby Labonte- Labonte won here this spring and became the all time money winner at Atlanta bypassing the late Dale Earnhardt. Labonte has won here six times in 21 starts, and has top 5 finishes in eleven of those starts. Ought to be in the mix at the end.

Terry Labonte- Labonte has never won here though he did clinch his 1996 title at Atlanta and ran a memorable side by side victory lap with his brother Bobby who won the race. But there haven’t been many Hallmark moments for Labonte at Atlanta as of late with just two top 10 finishes in his last ten starts here.

Bill Elliott- Elliott is a favorite of his home state crowd. He’s won here five times but the most recent of those victories was back in the 1992 season finale which many fans consider the best Winston Cup race ever run. (At that time Kurt Busch was probably taunting other kids in the sandbox and running to his teacher when they punched him.) But the hometown track hasn’t been kind to Elliott as of late. His last top 10 here was in ’00 and he blew an engine and finished 39th here this spring. Don’t it feel like you’re riding a downbound train? (Note: Elliott might be making a major announcement about his future here this weekend.)

Kurt Busch- Busch won this event last year but lost an engine and finished 40th here this spring. He has three finishes of eleventh or better in five career Cup starts at Atlanta.

Michael Waltrip- It doesn’t look good. Waltrip has exactly one top 5 finish in 36 Cup starts at Atlanta. Someone remind me why this guy is always on TV again.

Jeff Burton- Burton’s best finishes at Atlanta are a pair of fourth place results back to back back in 1998 and 1999. He’s had just two top 10 finishes in Cup races at Atlanta since.

Rusty Wallace- Wallace has won here twice but not since 1993. He has two top 10 finishes in his last ten Cup starts here.

Jamie McMurray- McMurray had a pretty fair weekend at Atlanta last fall winning the Busch race and finishing seventh in the next day’s Cup event. Reality intruded with a 36th place result in the Cup race this spring.

Robby Gordon- His seventeenth place finish here this spring was Captain Crunch’s best ever Atlanta Cup result. Did sit on the pole here one time.

Mark Martin- Martin has won two Cup races (and numerous Busch races) at Atlanta but hasn’t won a Cup race here since 1994. He’s batting .500 with seventeen top 10 finishes in 34 starts but this spring Martin was one of numerous Roush drivers to lose and engine. He finished 42nd.

Greg Biffle- Biffle finished thirteenth here this spring in his first Cup start at Atlanta.

Sterling Marlin- Marlin has never won at Atlanta but has finished second here twice most recently in this race back in ’01. That was one of just four top 5 finishes Marlin has managed in 37 Cup races he’s run at Atlanta.

Jeremy Mayfield- Mayfield has finished third at Atlanta twice, but hasn’t had a top 20 finish here in his last six Cup outings.

Others To Watch-

Elliott Sadler- Sadler finished sixth here this spring.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2003

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