Winner: Tony Stewart, driver of the ...
Winner: Tony Stewart, driver of the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet from Joe Gibbs Racing
Top-five finishers: Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle.
Race recap: A day-long downpour on Friday canceled qualifying, and the Nextel Cup drivers lined up for Sunday's race in order of owner points. That placed Matt Kenseth on the pole with Kevin Harvick beside him.
At the end of the 325 laps, Tony Stewart pulled out his fourth victory of the season and the second during the final 10-race playoff segment. Two-time and current champion Stewart did not make the Chase this year.
On the restart from the last of nine cautions at lap 315, Stewart got past Earnhardt Jr. and at lap 318, Jimmie Johnson claimed second and dogged Stewart from a distance, eventually crossing the line two seconds back.
As far as the points contest goes, however, Johnson gained on Kenseth's lead, going from 41 points behind at the start of the race and ending just 26 points back. Denny Hamlin is third, minus 65 points; Jeff Burton and Earnhardt Jr. are tied for fourth, down 84 points; Harvick is sixth with a minus 121, and Jeff Gordon is seventh, back by 141. Virtually eliminated are Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch.
Goodyear quote from Greg Stucker, director of race tire sales and marketing: "We had a new compound tire package at Atlanta that slightly improved the heavy wear we saw in the spring race, but we expect to re-visit that choice prior to the next visit to Atlanta in 2007. The track notoriously causes heavy tire wear and the long corners are abrasive on tires. It's a situation we will continue to improve upon from a tire standpoint."
Saturday afternoon's Crown Royal International Race of Champions finale of its four-race season on Goodyear Racing Eagles saw reigning Nextel Cup Champion Tony Stewart clinch the IROC championship. Busch Series' Martin Truex Jr. captured the race victory at Atlanta for the second consecutive year.
Stewart's accomplishment represents his sixth championship coming from six different racing disciplines.
The 65-lap event had moments of four-wide racing, swapping paint and 16 lead changes among five drivers. Rounding out the top-five finishers in the race were Matt Kenseth, Stewart, Ryan Newman and Ted Musgrave.
The IROC Series pits champion-caliber drivers from several types of racing in identically prepared cars, and its 30 seasons have been run exclusively on Goodyear racing tires.
Late-day racing at Atlanta was the domain of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on Saturday, and it was Mike Bliss and his #16 Chevrolet Silverado that reigned in victory circle. He took the lead with 10 laps to go and held off Terry Cook by about two truck lengths at the finish to earn his first win in four seasons and the 13th of his Truck career. Erik Darnell was third, David Reutimann fourth and Rick Crawford fifth.
There were 21 lead changes among nine drivers and seven cautions for 30 laps. The average speed was 123.200 mph. Todd Bodine continues to lead the series points contest with 86 over Johnny Benson as three races remain.
Other NASCAR action on Saturday took place at Memphis, Tenn., where the Busch Series saw Kevin Harvick collect his eighth win of the season on the .075-mile track, just a week after clinching the series championship. He took the lead from Carl Edwards after a restart following the 15th caution, then relegated Edwards to third after Harvick crossed the finish line with teammate Clint Bowyer in tow.
-credit: goodyear racing