Crunching The Numbers: Atlanta

After three nights of battling in the bullring that is Bristol Motor Speedway last weekend, the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series head to Atlanta Motor Speedway for Labor Day weekend and more racing under the lights on the fast 1.5 mile speedway. With a track surface that is old and worn, having not been repaved since its reconfiguration in 1997, the track has gotten rave reviews from drivers who enjoy slipping and sliding around on the worn out asphalt. The Sprint Cup Series will have their shot at the track on Sunday night, while the Nationwide Series takes to the track the night before for their race.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Only two races remain until the cut-off for the Chase for the Sprint Cup and the points standings heading into this weekend’s race are still as tight as they were prior to Bristol. After having a 77 point lead just two weeks ago, Jimmie Johnson’s points lead has shrunk to 18 points over second place Clint Bowyer after finishes of 40th and 36th in the past two races. Both Johnson and Bowyer are locked into the Chase and with his win last weekend at Bristol, Matt Kenseth locked himself into the Chase as well. Several drivers are fighting for the remaining Chase berths, with only 24 points separating Kasey Kahne in eighth with defending champion Brad Keselowski in 11th. Two other former Sprint Cup champions, Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon, are lurking just behind Keselowski, only six and 11 points back, respectively. The fight to make the Chase is going to come right down to the wire and how these drivers perform at Atlanta will go a long way in helping their Chase fortunes.

Driver Races Win Top 5 Top 10 Pole Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish
Jimmie Johnson 21 3 11 13 0 440 8.6 11.1
Jeff Gordon 39 5 16 25 2 1280 12.3 11.9
Dale Earnhardt Jr 25 1 8 11 2 632 16.2 12.5
Matt Kenseth 24 0 8 14 0 253 21.6 12.7
AJ Allmendinger 7 0 0 2 0 1 27.9 14.4
Carl Edwards 15 3 8 10 0 345 10.3 15.1
Greg Biffle 18 0 3 9 1 291 12.5 16.0
Denny Hamlin 13 1 2 5 1 314 13.4 16.2
Brian Vickers 15 0 1 7 0 8 16.2 16.4
Jeff Burton 35 0 8 14 0 104 25.3 16.5

Who To Watch: After two dismal finishes in the past two weeks, Jimmie Johnson has to be happy to be heading to Atlanta this weekend since his stats at the 1.5 mile track are tops in the series. In 21 starts, Johnson has three wins, 11 top fives, 13 top tens, 440 laps led, and an average finish of 11.1.

Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr., fall in second and third with their stats at Atlanta. Gordon has 39 starts, with five wins, 16 top fives, 25 top tens, two poles, 1280 laps led and an average finish of 11.9. In 25 starts, Earnhardt Jr., has one win, eight top fives, 11 top tens, two poles, 632 laps led, and an average finish of 12.5.

Besides the Hendrick Motorsports contingent, others who run well at Atlanta include: Five-time winner in 2013, Matt Kenseth, with eight top fives, 14 top tens, 253 laps led, and an average finish of 12.7 in 24 starts; A.J. Allmendinger, with two top tens, one lap led, and an average finish of 14.4 in seven starts; Carl Edwards, with three wins, eight top fives, 10 top tens, 345 laps led, and an average finish of 15.1 in 15 starts; and Greg Biffle, with three top fives, nine top tens, one pole, 291 laps led, and an average finish of 16.0 in 18 starts. 

NASCAR Nationwide Series – Great Clips/Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

With 10 races remaining in the Nationwide Series schedule, the points standings remain tight after Bristol with just 39 points separating the top five in points and the gap for Sam Hornish, Jr. over second place Austin Dillon sitting at just six points. None of the top five in points has been able to win at Atlanta heading into this weekend, so if any of the championship contenders find themselves in Victory Lane or find trouble on Saturday night, the points standings could be shaken up once again.

Driver Races Win Top 5 Top 10 Pole Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish
Austin Dillon 1 0 0 1 0 0 9.0 6.0
Joey Logano 2 0 0 2 0 0 10.5 6.0
Cole Whitt 1 0 0 1 0 0 12.0 8.0
Kevin Harvick 11 1 6 8 0 376 8.2 8.5
Justin Allgaier 4 0 1 2 0 15 20.0 10.2
Kasey Kahne 11 0 4 7 1 95 10.5 10.6
Sam Hornish Jr 2 0 0 1 0 1 5.5 12.0
Kyle Busch 9 0 5 6 3 490 3.4 13.9
Michael Annett 4 0 0 1 0 0 23.5 16.2
Brian Scott 3 0 0 0 0 0 21.3 17.0

Who To Watch: With the points lead up for grabs, Austin Dillon has to be happy to be at Atlanta this weekend since he has the best stats of the series at the track. In his lone start at Atlanta last season, Dillon started ninth and finished sixth.

Sprint Cup regular Joey Logano, driving the dominant No. 22 Ford this weekend, falls in just behind Dillon with two top tens in two starts, giving him an average finish of 6.0.

Others to keep an eye on include: Cole Whitt, with an eighth place finish in one start at the track; Kevin Harvick, with one win, six top fives, eight top tens, 376 laps led, and an average finish of 8.5 in 11 starts; Justin Allgaier, with one top five, two top tens, 15 laps led, and an average finish of 10.2 in four starts; Kasey Kahne, with four top fives, seven top tens, one pole, 95 laps led, and an average finish of 10.6 in 11 starts; and points leader Sam Hornish, Jr., with one top ten, one lap led, and an average finish of 12.0 in two starts.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park

With the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series headlining at Atlanta, the Camping World Truck Series heads to Canada for their inaugural race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park near Toronto, which also is the first race for the series outside of the United States and marks the return to a road course for the first time since 2000. This race is basically a toss-up since only one driver in the field, Ron Hornaday Jr., has previous Truck Series road course experience, so this will be an interesting race to see who will become the inaugural race winner. The Trucks will take to the track for their race on Sunday afternoon, prior to the Sprint Cup Series race from Atlanta later that night.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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