Driver Handicaps: Atlanta

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This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500. To help you make your fantasy racing picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 325-lap event.

Who's HOT at Atlanta
• Three-time winner Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with a 9.1 average finish
• Three-time winner Carl Edwards has finished seventh or better in seven of his nine starts.
• Jeff Gordon leads all drivers with 16 top 10s on the 1.54-mile configuration.
• Matt Kenseth has posted an average finish of 4.6 in his last five starts.
• Kyle Busch is the defending race winner. He also finished fifth last fall.

Keep an Eye on at Atlanta
• Atlanta is Dale Earnhardt Jr's best intermediate track on the circuit based on finishing average (11.7).
• Tony Stewart has finished second in the last two March races at Atlanta.
• Jeff Burton will be driving the same car that finished third last weekend at Las Vegas.
• Mark Martin leads all drivers entered in the race with 22 top 10s at Atlanta.
• Bobby Labonte leads all drivers with six wins at Atlanta.

Atlanta Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2008)
*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Martin Truex Jr.
1. Jimmie Johnson - 7.2
2. Carl Edwards
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2. Greg Biffle - 10.2
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Matt Kenseth
3. Carl Edwards - 10.3
4. Kyle Busch
4. Jimmie Johnson
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 10.3
5. Greg Biffle
5. Carl Edwards
5. Tony Stewart - 10.7
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Jimmie Johnson - 2375
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 274
1. Jimmie Johnson - 112.9
2. Carl Edwards - 2204
2. Greg Biffle - 253
2. Carl Edwards - 107.4
3. Greg Biffle - 2163
3. Carl Edwards - 250
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 103.7
4. Jeff Gordon - 2066
4. Jeff Gordon - 247
4. Tony Stewart - 101.1
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 2013
5. Matt Kenseth - 245
5. Greg Biffle - 100.2

For a complete look at all the loop data statistics for Atlanta Motor Speedway Click Here to view RacingOne's Kobalt Tools 500 pre-race eBook.

Season Loop Data Leaders
*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. David Ragan
1. Carl Edwards
1. Jeff Gordon - 6.2
2. Carl Edwards
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2. Kyle Busch - 8.7
3. Matt Kenseth
3. Matt Kenseth
3. Jimmie Johnson - 9.4
4. Jeff Gordon
4. Jeff Gordon
4. Carl Edwards - 9.7
5. Greg Biffle
5. Jamie McMurray
5. Tony Stewart - 10.7
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Jeff Gordon - 634
1. Carl Edwards - 253
1. Jeff Gordon - 118.9
2. Carl Edwards - 594
2. Kurt Busch - 242
2. Kyle Busch - 110.7
3. Tony Stewart - 573
3. Denny Hamlin - 202
3. Jimmie Johnson - 103.2
4. Kyle Busch - 569
4. Jeff Burton - 196
4. Carl Edwards - 99.2
5. Jimmie Johnson - 565
5. Jimmie Johnson - 193
5. Tony Stewart - 98.5

*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating : Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


Qualifying Tidbits
Ryan Newman knows his way around Atlanta Motor Speedway when it comes to qualifying. Newman is tied with Buddy Baker for the most poles at Atlanta, seven. He won six straight poles there from 2003 to 2005 and took his seventh pole position there in this event in 2007. Despite Newman's success in qualifying at AMS though, the qualifying speed record belongs to Geoffrey Bodine, who set the record speed of 197.478 mph in November 1997. More recently, Jeff Gordon (Spring 2008), Greg Biffle (Fall 2007) and Kasey Kahne (Spring 2006) have been the only drivers, besides Newman, to win poles at AMS since the 2002 race. Kahne won the 2006 race from the pole. The pole position has produced the most race winners of any starting position at AMS. Weather has knocked out qualifying on two occasions in the past five races at Atlanta, with the most recent coming last fall. Past Pole Winners | Starting Positions of Winners

RacingOne Staff Picks
Jeff Wackerlin: Jeff Gordon
Pete Pistone: Jimmie Johnson
Rachael West: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Kym Opalenik: Tony Stewart

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by Current Standings

1. Jeff Gordon: Gordon has recorded four wins in 33 career starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He is also first in laps led among active drivers at the track with 1,051. Gordon, who last won at Atlanta in the fall of 2003, has posted an average finish of 6.4 in his last seven starts at the track. In the 2005 spring race, Gordon posted his first DNF since 1999 after a lap two accident.

2. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer's three consecutive six-place finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway from 2007-2008 are his only top 10s in six starts at the track. Last October, Bowyer finished 20th after he battled an ill-handling race car before getting caught up in a late-race incident on pit road. This weekend Bowyer will be behind the wheel of a new car (chassis No. 265) in the Kobalt Tools 500.

3. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has competed in 18 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway, capturing seven top fives and 11 top-10 finishes. In this event in 2007, Kenseth scored his best finish at AMS in third. Over the past five races at Atlanta, Kenseth has posted an average finish of 4.6.

4. Greg Biffle: Biffle is coming off his seventh top 10 at Atlanta Motor Speedway after finishing 10th last fall. His last of three top fives came in this event last year after he took the checkered flag on fourth. Overall, Biffle has an average finish of 14.4 and has led 289 laps. Despite leading 128 laps in the 2006 spring race, Biffle went on to finish 16th. That finish ended a four-race streak of top-10 finishes. His 41st-place finish in the 2007 spring race marked Biffle's worst in 12 starts at AMS.

5. David Reutimann: Reutimann has posted an average finish of 29.3 in three starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Reutimann's 20th-place finish in this event last year is his best-to-date.

6. Kyle Busch: Last year in this event, Busch scored his first top 10 at Atlanta Motor Speedway after capturing a win in Kobalt Tools 500. The victory came in his first start with Joe Gibbs Racing at the track after leading 173 laps. Busch posted another top five in the fall race with a fifth-place finish. His previous seven starts came with Hendrick Motorsports where he's best finish was a trio of 12th-place runs.

7. Kurt Busch: Busch captured his first career win on a track one mile or more in length at Atlanta Motor Speedway back in the 2002 rain-shortened event. In the 2004 fall race, the championship tightened after Busch exited the race only 51 laps in when the engine in his No. 97 Ford let go. Busch was credited with his worst finish at AMS (42nd) and second DNF in 16 starts. This weekend will mark Busch's seventh track start with Penske Racing. He captured his first top 10s with the team in the last two fall races. Busch, who finished 11th in this event last year, will drive the same chassis (No. 594) that finished fifth at Auto Club Speedway last month.

8. Tony Stewart: Stewart has finished in the top 10 in 12 of the last 15 events at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The top 10s, which include eight top fives and two wins, are his only at the 1.54-mile oval. Stewart, who finished second in the last two March events, will be driving the same car (chassis No. 425) that made six points paying starts with the Haas-CNC Team over the past two seasons. Johnny Sauter's ninth-place finish in the 2007 spring race at Phoenix is the chassis' only top 10.

9. Carl Edwards: Edwards became the first driver in NASCAR history to win his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series races on the same weekend in Atlanta in March 2005. He went on to sweep Atlanta that year in the Cup Series, becoming the sixth of seven drivers to sweep Atlanta since the track opened in 1960. Edwards scored his third Atlanta victory last fall after leading 98 laps from the fourth starting position. Edwards has only finished outside the top 10 in two of his nine starts at AMS. In the 2006 spring race, Edwards finished 40th after an early pit-road collision caused heavy damage to his car. Last year in this event, he recorded his worst finish (42nd) after losing the engine. This weekend the No. 99 team will unload a new chassis (No. RK-565) for the Kobalt Tools 500.

10. Bobby Labonte: Six of Labonte's 21 career wins have come at Atlanta Motor Speedway with Joe Gibbs Racing. His last win came in the 2003 spring race and his last of 13 top 10s came later that year in the fall, when he finished fifth. Labonte's last six starts at Atlanta came with Petty Enterprises where he posted an average finish of 25.0. This weekend he will make his first track start in a Ford since 1993.

11. Kevin Harvick: Since winning his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race in the 2001 spring race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Harvick has gone on to score one more top five, coming in that same season. It took Harvick 13 more attempts at Atlanta before he posted another top 10, finishing seventh in this event last year. This weekend Harvick will race the same chassis (No. 272) that finished 12th last Sunday at Las Vegas.

12. Michael Waltrip: Waltrip has posted an average finish of 26.0 in his three starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway behind the wheel of the No. 55 Toyota. Overall, Waltrip has captured eight top 10s with his last coming in this event (seventh) in 2005 with Dale Earnhardt, Inc.

13. Kasey Kahne: Since winning the 2006 spring race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kahne has gone on to post an average finish of 29.4 in five starts. Prior to finishing 35th in the 2005 fall race, Kahne posted three consecutive top fives at AMS. Kahne started ninth and finished 28th in this event last year.

14. Denny Hamlin: The team will unload car 196 this weekend in Atlanta. This is the first race of the 2009 campaign for this car, though it had four starts in 2008 – posting top-ten finishes at Darlington and Pocono. JGR 222 will serve in backup at Atlanta. This car posted third-place finishes at both Auto Club and Indy during the 2008 season.

15. Juan Montoya: Montoya has competed in four Sprint Cup races at Atlanta Motor Speedway. His best start of 16th and finish of fifth both came in his first start at the track in 2007. This weekend Montoya will race a Chevrolet for the first time at AMS.

16. Elliott Sadler: This weekend Sadler will be making his sixth start at Atlanta Motor Speedway with Richard Petty Motorsports (Gillett Evernham). His only top-20s with the team came in 2007 with respective finishes of 18th and 14th. Sadler's three top 10s at Atlanta came with Yates Racing. This weekend Sadler will pilot a new chassis (No. 274) in the Kobalt Tools 500.

17. Brian Vickers: Vickers has scored two top 10s in his four starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway with Team Red Bull. His best finish, of sixth, came with Hendrick Motorsports in the 2005 spring race.

18. Jeff Burton: Burton has finished in the top 10 in five of his nine starts with Richard Childress Racing. His best finishes with the team was a pair of top fives in 2007. Burton had a shot for another top 10 in the 2006 spring race when he was forced to pit while running fourth because of a vibration, relegating him to a 25th-place finish. Prior to RCR, Burton competed in 20 races at AMS, four with the Stavola Brothers and 16 with Roush Fenway Racing, capturing eight top 10s. This weekend Burton will pilot the same chassis (No. 271) that finished third at Las Vegas.

19. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson leads all drivers with a 9.1 average finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He also holds the best driver rating at the track over the past eight races and has led 374 laps in 15 starts. Johnson's last five starts at AMS have resulted in two wins and and two runner-up finishes. This weekend's chassis (No. 502) is the same one that finished third at Pocono last August.

20. Marcos Ambrose: Last fall, Ambrose started 38th and finished 29th in his only Sprint Cup start at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Notable Drivers Outside the Top 20

22. Jamie McMurray: McMurray has posted an average finish of 23.7 in his six starts with Roush Fenway Racing McMurray at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Last fall he scored his first top 10 with the team with a seventh-place finish. Prior to Roush, McMurray recorded three top 10s at AMS with Chip Ganassi Racing. This weekend he will be making his 14th start at Atlanta driving the same car (chassis No. RK-594) that finished fifth at Lowe's Motor Speedway last October.

24. David Ragan: Ragan is coming off his first top 10 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in four starts. His eighth-place finish last fall was his first top 20 and it lowered his Atlanta average finish to 24.2. Ragan, who has yet to lead a lap at AMS, will be driving a new chassis (No. RK-615) in the Kobalt Tools 500.

25. Reed Sorenson: Atlanta Motor Speedway is the only track on the circuit in which Sorenson has posted more than two top 10s. Sorenson's three career top 10s are his only finishes inside the top 25 in seven starts at AMS.

26. Martin Truex Jr: Truex Jr's only top 10 at Atlanta Motor Speedway came in the 2007 spring race when he finished eighth. Four of his six starts resulted in finishes of 31st or worse when crashes and one mechanical failure took him out of contention. In the 2007 fall race, he led his first laps at AMS for a total of 135 up until a crash on lap 322 of 329. Truex finished 21st in this event last year. This weekend Truex Jr. will pilot the same car (chassis No. 070) that Ron Fellows competed in as the No. 01 at Watkins Glen in 2008.

27. Casey Mears: Mears has posted an average finish of 21.3 in 12 starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway. His best finish was a 12th in the past two fall events. This weekend Mears will make his Atlanta debut with Richard Childress Racing. He will be driving a new car (chassis No. 269) in the Kobalt Tools 500.

29. Dale Earnhardt Jr: Atlanta Motor Speedway is Earnhardt Jr's best 1.5-mile track on the circuit based on his 11.7 average finish. He finished third in this event last year (first Atlanta start with Hendrick) after leading 62 laps. During his career with Dale Earnhardt Inc., Junior ended a streak of three consecutive top fives at AMS with a 14th and 25th-place finish in 2007. His best finish, and one of nine top 10s with the team, was a win in the 2004 spring race.

33. Ryan Newman: Newman holds the best starting average among all drivers at Atlanta Motor Speedway at 5.1 in 14 starts. His only starts outside the top 10 came in the 2006 fall race an both races in 2008. In the 2007 spring race Newman scored his seventh pole at AMS. In the 2004 spring race, Newman posted his best finish, and fourth top 10, after he came home fifth. The last five races have marked the only events at Atlanta where Newman did not lead a lap. This weekend Newman will make his Atlanta debut in a Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. He will be racing the same car (chassis No. 529) that finished 28th at Auto Club Speedway last month.

34. Mark Martin: Martin leads all active drivers with 22 top 10s at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Martin's last of two victories at AMS came in the 1994 fall event, and all but eight of his 46 track starts have come with Roush Fenway Racing. Last year he finished 22nd in both races driving the No. 8 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. This weekend Martin will make his Atlanta debut behind the wheel of the No. 5 Chevrolet. The chassis (No. 523) will be the same one that had a solid run going at Las Vegas until the engine expired on Lap 122.

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