Team Chevy Title Contenders Have Shown Strength at Atlanta Motor Speedway Chase for the Nextel Cup Standings Leave Door Open With Four Races Remaining Hampton, GA - With just four races remaining in both the Chase for the Nextel Cup and the 2006...
Team Chevy Title Contenders Have Shown Strength at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Chase for the Nextel Cup Standings Leave Door Open With Four Races Remaining
Hampton, GA - With just four races remaining in both the Chase for the Nextel Cup and the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (NNCS) season, every one of the seven Team Chevy championship contenders will have to maximize lessons learned from their previous successes at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS).
Sunday's Bass Pro Shops 500 will mark the 95th NNCS event at AMS, 32 of which have been won by Chevrolet, more than any other manufacturer.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Reese's Monte Carlo SS, jumped to second in the Chase, 36 points behind the leader, following Martinsville. Harvick captured his career-first NNCS victory at AMS in spring 2001. Since then, he has scored two top-five and two top-10 finishes on the 1.54-mile banked tri-oval.
"Atlanta just wears the tires out," said Harvick. "You have a tough time getting a hold of the race track. You can move all around and race all over the race track. It is just worn out which makes it a pretty fun place to race. It hasn't been very good to us lately, but it is fun cause you can race all over it."
With his commanding victory at Martinsville, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS, jumped to third in the standings, 41 points down from the top spot. In 10 AMS starts, Johnson has one victory, five top-five and six top-10 finishes.
"The asphalt they have used is older technology," said Johnson. "It is real abrasive and chews the tires up. Handling is a premium. The pace slows down so you can run side by side and you can look for other lanes to race in. That really makes for good racing. I think the new tracks, and Charlotte is a good example of it, they almost did too good of a job. The asphalt is so smooth and tightly compacted we have to run an extremely hard tire, the tire never gives up and we run qualifying laps all night long. We run side by side and it is hard to pass. Atlanta is a great track. Some day they are going to have to resurface it and we will be faced with issues of a new surface there. But right now it has aged perfectly. It is probably is one of the best places to challenge drivers."
Raybestos Rookie contender Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Monte Carlo SS, rides fourth in the Chase standings, just 47 points out of the lead following a second place finish at Martinsville. He has the least experience at AMS, just two previous starts with no top-five or top-10 finishes.
After a blown engine relegated him to 42nd in the finishing order at Martinsville, Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS, will be looking to regain that consistent rhythm his Richard Childress Racing team has demonstrated the entire season. In 24 starts at AMS, Burton has five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS, sixth in the standings, is another one of the Chase drivers with victories at AMS. In just 14 starts, Junior has one win, six top-five and eight top-10 finishes.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, ninth in points, 141 points behind the leader, but the four-time NNCS champion leads the AMS win category over the other six Team Chevy drivers in the Chase with four. In addition, he leads all active drivers in laps-led at AMS.
Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's Monte Carlo SS, rides 10th in the championship standings but is not out of the Chase at 171 points behind the leader. In four previous AMS starts, the 21-year old driver has finished in 12th position three times.
Matt Kenseth (Ford) leads the Chase heading to AMS.
-credit: gm racing