Atlanta Motor Speedway pre-race news 2007-10-23

Jimmie Johnson Likely the Man to Beat at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Pep Boys Auto 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Race HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 23, 2007) -- All eyes will be on Jimmie Johnson when he hits the track in his No. 48 ...

Jimmie Johnson Likely the Man to Beat at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Pep Boys Auto 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Race

HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 23, 2007) -- All eyes will be on Jimmie Johnson when he hits the track in his No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet for the Pep Boys Auto 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend.

Johnson, who owns two wins and seven top-five finishes at AMS, has a series-high average finish of fifth at NASCAR's fastest track. Johnson is AMS' most recent winner, claiming victory in the March 2007 Kobalt Tools 500 NEXTEL Cup race.

"On the last lap, if you're chasing someone, you're going where they're not," Johnson said. "That really dictates your move and what you do on the last lap. If you can break the plane of the guy you are chasing and get to his quarter- panel off of Turn 4, the way we side-draft each other even on the 1.5-mile tracks, you will slow him down and you will beat him to the finish line. It's just the cycle of it."

Johnson trails NEXTEL Cup championship points leader and teammate Jeff Gordon by just 53 markers heading into Atlanta Motor Speedway. Johnson will race the same car he has scored either a victory or a runner-up finish in six of the 11 events the car has been raced in.

Pep Boys Auto 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Race at Atlanta Motor Speedway Comes at Opportune Time for Petty Enterprises

Kyle Petty and Bobby Labonte have both had Atlanta Motor Speedway circled on their calendars, but for slightly different reasons.

Labonte, who was the 2000 NEXTEL Cup champion, feels that the time is right to score a win for Petty Enterprises, which would be their first since John Andretti took the famed No. 43 to victory lane in 1999.

"The track has been good to me and our team has a good chemistry right now," Labonte said. "We're probably at our strongest point right now in the season. I don't think we've come close to hitting a peak either. We're getting better.

"We feel good about the program right now," Labonte continued. "We're just excited to get to Atlanta and take our next step."

Labonte will be making his 30th start in a NEXTEL Cup car at AMS and he leads all active drivers in victories at the track with six wins.

Kyle Petty, who serves as CEO of Petty Enterprises as well as wheel-man for the No. 45 NEXTEL Cup car, finds himself locked in a fierce battle to maintain his position in the top-35 in owner points. The top 35 cars in owner's points are guaranteed a starting spot in each NEXTEL Cup event as well as the first five races of the 2008 season. Currently, Petty is a mere six points ahead of owner Bill Davis and driver of the No. 22 car, Dave Blaney.

"Our team has been good recently, but we've seen some great runs from the No. 22 team too," Petty said. "We had some bad luck and got caught up in wrecks and just didn't finish in front of who we needed to, but we've been pretty strong the past two or three weeks.

"Sure, when you think about Atlanta you think of pure speed. Atlanta is wide and you can race three abreast with no problem. That's what happens when you leave a track alone. I think we're feeling good about this weekend.

"Each track that we go to is unique in its own way and Atlanta is no different. When we come down here we are racing in front of what could be the biggest corporate audience that we have. A lot of the sponsors that you see on Sunday have a huge presence in Atlanta. I'm fortunate enough to have been associated with Coca-Cola for many years now and they're headquartered down there. That gives me extra motivation when I go to Atlanta because I get to see a lot of the great people from Coke."

Atlanta Motor Speedway to Announce New Event during Pep Boys Auto 500 NEXTEL Cup Race Weekend

At 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26 in the Atlanta Motor Speedway infield Media Center, AMS will announce the addition of an exciting new event for 2008.

The event, held Saturday, June 28 and Sunday, June 29, 2008, will attract fans from across the United States. A Hollywood actor and musician will be on hand to assist with the announcement on Friday.

-credit: ams

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Kyle Petty , Jimmie Johnson , Dave Blaney