Race: NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 Weather: Sunny, near 60 degrees Race winner: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the ...
Race: NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500
Weather: Sunny, near 60 degrees
Race winner: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet
Top-five finishers: Johnson, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Race recap: Jimmie Johnson owned race day after leading 132 of the first 238 laps followed by the most important final three, to register his second consecutive weekend win.
After a caution with 11 laps remaining in the 325-lap event, Johnson got past Matt Kenseth and set his sights on leader Tony Stewart. Johnson took the lead at lap 322 when Stewart lightly scraped the wall and lost a bit of momentum.
The race had six cautions for 27 laps and 31 lead changes among 13 drivers, with 18 of the 43 cars finishing on the lead lap. Reigning series champ Johnson averaged 152.915 mph and held a 1.311second margin of victory over Stewart.
Ryan Newman qualified for his seventh pole at Atlanta after a 193.124 mph run, but finished in 23rd place on Sunday.
Early in the season's championship points chase, Mark Martin sits at the top with 629 points, with Jeff Gordon behind by 8, Jeff Burton by 11 and Johnson out 28. Martin, who has chosen to taper back from racing a full season, will not contend next week at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, where NASCAR's newly designed Car of Tomorrow will debut.
Important factors considered by Goodyear race tire engineers in designing the Nextel Cup tire setup for Atlanta included the smaller 18-gallon fuel cell, high speeds and loads, as well as a relatively rough track surface.
Goodyear Racing comments from Rick Heinrich, sales account manager for Nextel Cup Series: "Atlanta is one of the most challenging racetracks that we visit all season. It's not only NASCAR's fastest race track but it also is very abrasive and wears out tires very quickly. Car balance and driver skill are very important here. The tires we brought this weekend worked extremely well during Sunday's Nextel Cup race. Wear was very good and teams could make complete green flag fuel runs. These tires gave the top running teams the confidence to race hard all the way to the end."
Goodyear supplied a different tire package for both the Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series races at Atlanta. Those vehicles carried 22-gallon fuel tanks and required tires with a slightly tougher compound to account for the large fuel cells and longer runs, versus the tires needed for Nextel Cup cars using smaller 18-gallon cells.
Though there was limited practice and set-up time for the Truck and Busch teams due to rainy weather, most teams had well-balanced machines that went full fuel runs, according to Heinrich.
Friday night's Craftsman Truck Series race under cold and windy conditions saw Mike Skinner wheel his Toyota Tundra past the checkered flag for the second straight week, after holding off Todd Bodine in the closing laps. He led a race-high 67 of 130 laps and averaged 105.739 mph through nine cautions for 45 laps and 12 lead changes among six
drivers. It was Skinner's 21st series victory.
The Saturday afternoon Busch Series Nicorette 300 contest concluded with Jeff Burton taking the honors in his #29 Chevrolet after crossing the line 1.064 seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick. Polestarter Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Casey Mears rounded out the top five.
Busch was the class of the day leading five times for 139 of the 195 laps, but he was forced to pit late in the race for a missing lug nut, giving Burton the break he needed. The race had 13 lead changes among eight drivers and six cautions for 38 laps. Burton averaged 127.201 mph. Heavy tire wear spotted on numerous cars raised awareness for good tire management and knowing that the high drive line was hardest on tire wear.