Atlanta Motor Speedway pre-race notes

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon List Atlanta Motor Speedway as One of NASCAR's Best Tracks HAMPTON, Ga. -- With it's wide sweeping turns and worn racing surface, Atlanta Motor Speedway has long been a favorite among NASCAR competitors. NEXTEL...

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon List Atlanta Motor Speedway as One of NASCAR's Best Tracks

HAMPTON, Ga. -- With it's wide sweeping turns and worn racing surface, Atlanta Motor Speedway has long been a favorite among NASCAR competitors. NEXTEL Cup stars Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. reiterated those feelings recently when asked about traveling to AMS for the Kobalt Tools 500 race weekend.

"I love Atlanta, it is unbelievable how awesome that race track is" Gordon said. "I love the worn surface and everything about the track...it's one of my favorite tracks we go to. Racing here is how I'd like it to be every weekend. Everything I love about this sport is what is going to happen in Atlanta."

Earnhardt Jr. agreed with Gordon's statements, saying it tops his list of tracks to visit.

"We always look forward to Atlanta, it is the best track we race at," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It's bad-fast, fun to drive, and we seem to find ourselves near the front most of the time. We've been in the top-five in almost half of our races there.

"Whether I am first or 20th, I'm having fun. I wish they would build a lot more of 'em like this. It is always fun there."

Georgia Natives Bill Elliott and David Ragan to Compete in Saturday Night Winter Flurry Series Race

Five-time Atlanta Motor Speedway Cup Series winner Bill Elliott will get behind the wheel of a Thunder Roadster following the Saturday, March 17 Nicorette 300 Busch Series race as part of the Winter Flurry racing series.

"I always get excited to race at my home track," Elliott said of racing in front of the fans at AMS. "The fans are so great there and the racing is always exciting."

Joining Elliott Saturday night will be his son, Chase driving a Bandolero and nephew, Trey Poole racing a Legends car. Elliott's Roadster will be sponsored by the Dawsonville Pool Hall and Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, Thunder Road USA

Unadilla, Ga. native and Thursday Thunder AMS track champion David Ragan will also race in the Legends event. Ragan, who drives the No. 6 car for Roush Fenway racing in the NEXTEL Cup Series, is scheduled to run Saturday's Nicorette 300 and Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500.

"Atlanta will be a big highlight. I've got a lot of hometown family and friends that will be there," said Ragan. "Thursday Thunder wasn't long ago at all and I'm looking forward to Saturday night."

Newman Eyes His Mentor Buddy Baker's Pole Record at AMS

Ryan Newman has a chance to carve his name in the AMS history books, alongside NASCAR great and Newman coach Buddy Baker during Georgia Power Qualifying night, Friday, March 16. Newman currently has six poles at AMS, all coming consecutively between March, 2003 and October, 2005.

Before Newman started winning poles at AMS, Baker coached him on the high-banks of Atlanta Motor Speedway, teaching him the preferred line around the track. Some of Baker's pole-winning magic apparently wore off on Newman.

Buddy Baker has a record seven poles at AMS including three consecutive poles between the spring of 1979 and spring 1980 and is the only driver other than Newman to win more than two poles in a row at AMS.

Newman leads all active drivers with six poles at AMS, but could join Baker as the only seven-time pole winners if he is able to top the speed charts during qualifying on Friday night.

"Atlanta's a smooth, fast track," Newman said. "It is great from a driver's standpoint and it must be even better from the fan's perspective."

-credit: ams

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Ryan Newman , David Ragan , Buddy Baker