Atlanta Always Competitive

Atlanta promises close competition HAMPTON, Ga. (March 5, 1998) When the world's best race drivers fire their engines at Atlanta Motor Speedway, both on PRIMESTAR 500 Bud Pole Day on Friday and in the PRIMESTAR 500 on Sunday, they'll be ...

Atlanta promises close competition

HAMPTON, Ga. (March 5, 1998) When the world's best race drivers fire their engines at Atlanta Motor Speedway, both on PRIMESTAR 500 Bud Pole Day on Friday and in the PRIMESTAR 500 on Sunday, they'll be competing on a track that is an excellent example of one of NASCAR's longtime goals: "a level playing field."

Few, if any, tracks in the 50-year history of NASCAR have demonstrated a clearer history of equal competition between automobile manufacturers than Atlanta Motor Speedway.

For instance, Fords have a precarious 25-23 advantage over Chevrolets in all-time victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Yet, General Motors products have an equally narrow 35- 33 edge over Ford Motor Company machines on the speedway's all-time victory list. The longest winning streak any make of automobile has been able to establish in NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition at Atlanta is four races -- a feat achieved just four times, twice by Ford and twice by Chevrolet.

Ford posted its first four-race winning streak by sweeping both races in 1964 and 1965, with Fred Lorenzen and Ned Jarrett winning in '64 and Marvin Panch taking both races the next season. Chevrolet matched this achievement with a four-race winning streak in 1983 and 1984, with Cale Yarborough, Neil Bonnett, Benny Parsons and Dale Earnhardt visiting Victory Lane in that make.

Ford's second four-race winning streak began when Mark Martin won the 1991 season finale. Bill Elliott won both races in 1992 and Morgan Shepherd captured the 1993 PRIMESTAR 500. The most recent four-race winning streak was scored by Chevrolet in 1995 and 1996. Jeff Gordon won the 1995 PRIMESTAR 500 in a Chevy, Dale Earnhardt captured the next two races and Bobby Labonte won the 1996 NAPA 500.

If recent history is any indication, there is no clear-cut favorite among the three current manufacturers in Sunday's race. The last three NASCAR Winston Cup Series races at AMS have been won, respectively, by a Chevrolet (Labonte), a Ford (Dale Jarrett) and a Pontiac (Labonte again).

However, the twist in the tale is the tweaking of the aerodynamic rules beginning with the PRIMESTAR 500, in the interest of evening a competition level that saw Ford take five of the top-10 spots in the season-opening Daytona 500, six of the top-10 in the GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham and a crushing 13 of the top-14 in the most recent Las Vegas 400.

For this week's race, Ford's Taurus must have a 4.75-inch rear spoiler and Ford's Thunderbird must have a 4.5-inch rear spoiler.

"They've won two races and we've won one, but if you look at what happened last weekend, the Ford teams that really had great days were teams that had been together for a while," Ford driver Jeff Burton said, summing up Chevrolet's advantage in wins if not in top-10 finishes.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Ned Jarrett , Benny Parsons , Marvin Panch , Mark Martin , Fred Lorenzen