Driver Handicaps: Atlanta

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This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Atlanta for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. To help you make your fantasy racing picks, Motor Racing Network 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 10.7 average finish.
• Three-time winner Carl Edwards has finished seventh or better in eight of his 11 starts.
• Jeff Gordon has finished in the top 10 in eight of the last nine races.
• Kevin Harvick has posted an average finish of 6.5 in the four COT races.
• Defending event winner Kurt Busch has led the most laps (246) with the new car.
• Matt Kenseth has an average finish of 7.2 in his last six starts.
• Kasey Kahne posted one win and an average finish of 4.0 in 2009.
• Kyle Busch has one win and an average finish of 9.2 in four starts with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Keep an Eye on at Atlanta
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart each have top five driver ratings at Atlanta.
• Clint Bowyer has finished sixth in four of his last six starts at Atlanta.
• Brian Vickers finished in the top 10 at Atlanta in both races in 2009.
• Defending event pole winner Mark Martin is coming off his first top five at Atlanta with Hendrick Motorsports.
• Juan Pablo Montoya is coming off his second top five at Atlanta.
• Jeff Burton and Joey Logano both are driving cars that finished in the top five at Auto Club.
• Denny Hamlin has led 79 laps and posted an average finish of 9.2 with the new car at Atlanta.

2009 Track Performers
This weekend marks the second 1.5-mile track of the season with the first being Las Vegas. Jimmie Johnson, who is the all-time leader in wins on 1.5-mile tracks, won the race at Vegas with Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth rounding out the top five. In 2009, Gordon was the only driver to post an average finish of 10.0 or better in the 10 races on 1.5-mile speedways in 2009. Gordon wound up with a stellar 5.8 average finish, 274 laps led and one win, which came at Texas last spring. Kasey Kahne (10.7), Tony Stewart (11.4), David Reutimann (11.8) and Denny Hamlin (11.9) rounded out the top five in average finish last season. 2008 Atlanta spring winner Kyle Busch led the most laps in the 10 races with 483. Johnson was second with 358 laps led. Based off 1.5-mile tracks in 2009: Las Vegas, Atlanta (1.54-mile), Texas, Lowe's, Chicago, Kansas and Homestead.

Active Pole Leaders
Best Starting Average
Races Won from Starting Pos.
1. Ryan Newman - 7 poles
1. Ryan Newman - 6.7
Pole - Once
2. Jeff Gordon - 2 poles
2. Jimmie Johnson - 7.8
Top Five - Three Times
2. Bobby Labonte - 2 poles
3. Kasey Kahne - 9.9
Top 10 - Five Times
2. Mark Martin - 2 poles
4. Mark Martin - 10.0
Top 15 - Six Times
5. Six Drivers - 1 pole
5. Carl Edwards - 11.0
Worst - 25th, One Time


*Best Average Finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Last # of Races
Driver
Avg. Fin.
Two Races
Kevin Harvick
3.0
Four Races
Jeff Gordon
6.0
Six Races
Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth
7.2
Eight Races
Jeff Gordon
6.6
10 Races
Jimmie Johnson
8.8
* - The best average finish is based off a driver who has competed in every race during that time span.

Atlanta Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2009)
*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Martin Truex Jr.
1. Jimmie Johnson - 7.7
2. Kyle Busch
2. Carl Edwards
2. Jeff Gordon - 10.0
3. Carl Edwards
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 10.7
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Mark Martin
4. Tony Stewart - 11.4
5. Jeff Gordon
5. Jimmie Johnson
5. Denny Hamlin - 11.6
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Jimmie Johnson - 2929
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 352
1. Jimmie Johnson - 110.1
2. Jeff Gordon - 2709
2. Jeff Gordon - 344
2. Carl Edwards - 105.0
3. Carl Edwards - 2593
3. Carl Edwards - 306
3. Jeff Gordon - 102.2
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 2545
4. Matt Kenseth - 304
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 99.8
5. Greg Biffle - 2361
5. Jimmie Johnson - 296
5. Tony Stewart - 98.6

*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.


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

Season Loop Data Leaders
*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Kevin Harvick
1. Kevin Harvick - 7.5
2. Kyle Busch
2. Jimmie Johnson
2. Jimmie Johnson - 8.1
3. Jeff Gordon
3. Carl Edwards
3. Clint Bowyer - 8.6
4. Jeff Burton
4. Kurt Busch
4. Jeff Gordon - 8.9
5. Kevin Harvick
5. Clint Bowyer
5. Kyle Busch - 9.1
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Clint Bowyer - 670
1. Kevin Harvick - 389
1. Kevin Harvick - 116.4
2. Kyle Busch - 641
2. Kyle Busch - 386
2. Jimmie Johnson - 113.0
3. Jimmie Johnson - 606
3. Clint Bowyer - 385
3. Clint Bowyer - 107.8
4. Carl Edwards - 574
4. Carl Edwards - 356
4. Jeff Gordon - 106.4
5. Kevin Harvick - 569
5. Jamie McMurray - 354
5. Greg Biffle - 101.7

*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.


MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks
Jeff Wackerlin: Mark Martin
Pete Pistone: Kurt Busch
Rachael West: Kasey Kahne

Top 30 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings

(All stats/notes are in regards to Atlanta Motor Speedway unless noted)

1. Kevin Harvick: Won the 2001 race in first track start; Finished fourth and second, respectively, in 2009; Second-best finishing average (6.5) in four starts with the COT; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 288) that finished second at Auto Club two weeks ago.

2. Clint Bowyer: Has finished sixth in last three spring races; 15.6 average finish in eight starts; Will debut chassis No. 298 in the Kobalt Tools 500.

3. Mark Martin: Won the pole in first track start with Hendrick Motorsports last March; Finished 31st in that event after sustaining a flat right-rear tire; Finished fifth last fall for 14th top 10 in 48 starts; Two wins came with Roush Racing in 1991 and 1994; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 500) that won the pole and finished second at Indianapolis last summer; Tested during a Goodyear tire test in January.

4. Matt Kenseth: Finished 12th in both races in 2009; Previous five starts resulted in finishes of eighth or better; Sixth-best driver rating over the past 10 races.

5. Jimmie Johnson: Three-time winner; Last win came in the 2007 fall race after leading eight laps; Has led 402 laps and recorded a 10.7 average finish in 17 starts; Best driver rating over the past 10 races; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 558) that won from the pole at Charlotte last fall.

6. Greg Biffle: Coming off eighth top 10 in 14 starts with an eighth-place finish last fall; Best finish (third) came in the 2005 spring race; Finished 34th in this event last year after the team missed the setup; Seventh-best driver rating over the past 10 races; Will be back in the same car (chassis No. 546) that last raced at Phoenix in 2009.

7. Jeff Burton: Has posted five top 10s in 11 starts with Richard Childress Racing; 19.0 average finish in the four starts with the COT; Will race the same car (chassis No. 291) that recently finished third at Auto Club.

8. Joey Logano: 26.0 average finish in two starts; Will look for first Atlanta top 10 in the same car (chassis No. 262) that finished fifth at Auto Club.

9. David Reutimann: Coming off first top 10 in five starts with a fourth-place finish last fall; Did score the fourth-best average finish (11.8) on 1.5-mile tracks in 2009.

10. Carl Edwards: Scored his third win in the 2008 fall race; Has combined to lead 159 laps in the last four races; Has finished seventh or better in eight of his 11 starts; Second-best driver rating over the past 10 races; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 639) that finished in the top 10 on two 1.5-mile tracks in 2009, Texas and Kansas; Tested during a Goodyear tire test in January.

11. Tony Stewart: Finished eighth and 11th, respectively, in first track starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Posted two wins and 11 top 10s in previous 20 starts with Joe Gibbs Racing; 9.5 average finish in four starts with the COT; Fifth-best driver rating over the past 10 races; Will be driving the same car (chassis No. 511) that last finished fifth at Auto Club in the fall.

12. Kyle Busch: Winner of the 2008 spring race after leading 173 laps; Posted first finishes outside the top 10s with Joe Gibbs Racing last season in 18th and 13th; Never scored a top 10 in first seven starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 257) that led 232 laps at Texas last fall before running out of fuel.

13. Jeff Gordon: Four-time winner with last win coming in 2003; Has finished ninth or better in last five races; Finished second in this event last year; Third-best driver rating over the past 10 races; Posted the best average finish on 1.5-mile tracks in 2009; Will debut a new chassis (No. 581) in the Kobalt Tools 500.

14. Jamie McMurray: 20.3 average finish in 15 starts; Best finish (sixth) came in the 2005 fall race with Ganassi Racing; Will make first track start in a Chevrolet; Will debut a new chassis No. 905 in the Kobalt Tools 500.

15. Dale Earnhardt Jr: 10.5 average finish in four starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Posted one win and nine top 10s in previous 17 starts with Dale Earnhardt, Inc.; Fourth-best driver rating over the past 10 races; Will debut a new chassis (No. 584) in the Kobalt Tools 500.

16. Scott Speed: 31.0 average finish in three starts; Has yet to post a top-10 finish on a 1.5-mile track.

17. Paul Menard: 22.6 average finish in seven starts; Lone top 10 (seventh) came with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in this event in 2006; Has finished in the top 20 in his first three starts of 2010; Will pilot a car (chassis No. 594) that has been completely rebuilt after racing many times in 2009.

18. Brian Vickers: Coming off consecutive top 10s; Seventh-best average finish (10.5) in the four starts with the COT; Fifth-place finish in this event is his best in 13 starts; Two of his six top 10s came with Hendrick Motorsports.

19. Kurt Busch: Won this event last year after leading 234 laps; Victory was third top 10 in eight starts with Penske Racing; Previous win and three top 10s came with Roush Racing; Eighth-best driver rating over the past 10 races; Will debut chassis No. 715 in the Kobalt Tools 500.

20. David Ragan: Returns to hometown track where he's made six Cup starts; Best finish, and only top 10, was eighth in the fall of 2008; Has an average finish of 24.8; Piloting chassis RK-615, which was last raced in Texas to a 17th-place finish.

21. Martin Truex Jr: Has two top-10 finishes in 10 starts; Best finish of eighth came in spring of 2007; Led a race high 135 laps in the fall 2007 race before crashing; Led 68 laps from the pole in last fall's race; Making track debut with MWR; Tested with the team during a Goodyear tire test in January.

22. Denny Hamlin: In nine starts, finished a best third in the fall of 2008; Has three top 10s, all in the fall; Has led four times for a total of 98 laps; Ninth best pre-race driver rating of 93.2; Has a 9.2 average finish in the four races with the COT; Unloading chassis JGR 253; Has one previous start with car - 10th-place finish at Michigan in 2009.

23. Kasey Kahne: Two victories driving a Dodge, including one with Richard Petty Motorsports last fall; In 12 starts, has five top fives, seven top 10s and an average finish of 17.0; Making track debut in a Ford; Has finished in the top 10 in both starts with RPM.

24. Elliott Sadler: Three top 10s in 22 starts all came while driving a Ford for Yates Racing; Best finish of sixth came in this race in 2003; Finished 20th and 21st in two starts with RPM last year; Piloting brand-new chassis No. 280.

25. Regan Smith: 34.0 average finish in two starts at Atlanta with DEI in 2008.

26. Juan Pablo Montoya: Posted his best finish in six Cup starts in last fall's Chase race; Led 31 laps en route to the third-place finish; Last year's result was his second top five, with the first coming in his track debut in 2007; Average finish is 20.8; Will drive chassis No. 819 which saw six starts in 2009; Car brought three top-five finishes including in fall Atlanta race.

27. AJ Allmendinger: 16.8 average finish in four starts; Hasn't finished in the top 10 but has finished 20th or better in each start; Bringing chassis No. 265; Last driven by the No. 44 team to a 34th-place finish at Martinsville last October; Making track debut in a Ford.

28. Sam Hornish Jr: Best finish is 24th in four starts; Tested during a Goodyear tire test in January.

29. Travis Kvapil: 32.3 average finish in seven starts; Finished a best 23rd in the fall of 2008.

30. Brad Keselowski: Making Cup debut at track; Has three Nationwide starts with one top five and two top 10s; Bringing a new chassis (PRS-710) to Kobalt Tools 500 weekend.

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