The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves to the uber-fast Atlanta Motor Speedway for the 25th race of the 2012 season, the AdvoCare 500. NASCAR expert Brian Brown looked at past performances, season trends, and spoke to team contacts to provide the internet’s most accurate projection of how the field will finish.
When: Sunday, September 1, 2012; 7:46 p.m./et
Weather: Isolated T-Storms with a high around 87; wind out of the SSW at 6 mph. There is a 30 percent chance of precipitation.
The Track: Atlanta MotorSpeedway
Atlanta Motor Speedway is a very wide 1.5 mile oval. It has 24 degree banking on the corners. Due to the fast surface and steep banking it is known as the fastest track on the NASCAR circuit.
Key to Race: WHO CAN HANDLE THE SPEED?
Jeff Gordon dominated at Atlanta in 2011; Kurt Busch was very dominant at Atlanta in spring of 2010 and Tony Stewart dominated in September 2011. Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch have also had recent success at the track.
47 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. If the first practice is run, but qualifying is unable to take place, the starting lineup will be based on speeds from the car's fastest lap from the first practice, with top-35 cars in owner points no longer segregated from the non-top 35 cars. Previously, the top 35 cars lined up in front of all other eligible car owners.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has been one of the fastest drivers on the circuit the past few months. He will make some noise once again at Atlanta.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: In 13 career starts at Atlanta, Edwards has finished in the top seven an impressive 11 times. He won the September 2008 race at the track and is one of our favorites to win on Sunday.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has visited Victory Lane in two of the past nine Atlanta races. He will be solid this trip to Atlanta.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has five career wins in theATLand has finished in the top 10 in 19 of the last 25 races at the track. He will be strong once again this weekend.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has been a good-shoe in six of the last seven races at Atlanta. He will be very fast on Sunday.
6 to 10
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Stewart won the 2010 September race and has 15 top 10 finishes in 25 starts at the track. He should be in the top 10 once again.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has 13 top 10 finishes in 23 starts at Atlanta. The No. 17 will be very good.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior has 10 top 10 finishes in the last 20 races at Atlanta. With the way he has been driving this year he is a top choice.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne has six top five finishes in 15 career races at Atlanta, including a win in the September 2009 race. He is a good choice.
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Busch won the March 2008 race at ATL. He will be back inside the top 10 this weekend.
11 to 20
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has been terrible in four of the last nineATLraces and great in the other five. His inconsistency at the track bumps him just outside our top 10.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya has finished in the top three in two of the last four races. He is a great choice this weekend.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has just four top 10 finishes in 13 career starts in theATL. He should finish in the top 15, but we don't see a top 10 finish for the No. 11 team.
No. 31 JeffBurton: Burtonhas driven well in almost every race atAtlantasince 2004. He should have the No. 31 car in the top 20 once again.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer finished in the top seven in five of the past nine races at Atlanta. He should have the No. 15 in the top 10 once again.
No. 55 Mark Martin: Martin has run over 14,500 laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway in his career. The veteran will put all the experience to good use on Sunday.
No. 51 Kurt Busch: Busch dominated two of the last five races at Atlanta, but that was before his temper booted him from Penske. He is only worth using in the deepest of leagues.
No. 39 Ryan Newman: Newman is the maestro of qualifying atAtlanta. In the 19 races he has run at the speedway he has started from the pole seven times. We like him to challenge for the pole and finish inside the top 20.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex has a top 12 driver rating atATLthe past four years. He could be a bit of a sleeper pick on Sunday.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray has averaged a 20th place finish in 17 career starts at Atlanta. We see him taking the checkers around there again.
21 to 30
No. 22 Sam Hornish Jr.: Hornish has plenty of experience driving cars at high speed. He isn’t a bad choice.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola should have no issue getting the No. 43 inside the top 25.
No. 20 Joey Logano: Logano has struggled at Atlanta so far in his career. This is a difficult track for many drivers and we recommend avoiding “Sliced Bread” until he gets a few more laps under his belt.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: The Tasmanian Devil will have the No. 9 back inside the top 25.
No. 34 David Ragan: The Georgia native has struggled at Atlanta during his career. He won’t notch the top 15 finish he is so desperate for at his home-track.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard has been hot-and-cold at Atlanta. He is worth using for those of you desperate for a sleeper.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears should crack the top 30.
No. 34 David Gilliland: The faster the track the better Gilliland drives. Atlanta is the fastest.
No. 21 Travor Bayne: Bayne and the historic No. 21 car are back on the track. There are worse options you could have on your team.
No. 78 Regan Smith: Smith has averaged a 25th place finish at the ATL during his career.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte
No. 10 Danica Patrick
No. 32 T.J. Bell
No.33 Stephen Leicht
No. 83 Landon Cassill
No. 93 Travis Kvapil
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 23 Scott Riggs
No. 49 Jason Leffler
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 95 Scott Speed
No. 91 Reed Sorenson
No. 37 J.J. Yeley
No. 98 Michael McDowell
No. 19 Mike Bliss
No. 26 Josh Wise
1. Brad Keselowski
2. Carl Edwards
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Jeff Gordon
Juan Pablo Montoya
Bust of the Week: