Edwards leads Happy Hour in Atlanta

Carl Edwards led NASCAR Nextel Cup teams during final practice for the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Edwards, who won both races here last season, paced the field with a lap of 189. 209 mph. Edwards is looking to turn around his...

Carl Edwards led NASCAR Nextel Cup teams during final practice for the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Edwards, who won both races here last season, paced the field with a lap of 189. 209 mph.

Edwards is looking to turn around his season this weekend. Although earning a top three in California, Edwards finished 43rd in the Daytona 500 and 26th last weekend at Las Vegas. The inconsistent start to the year has Edwards and the No. 99 Roush Ford team mired in 23rd place in standings.

"Atlanta Motor Speedway couldn't come at a better time for the Office Depot team," explained Edwards. "I guess we've run three races so far and we've run terribly at two of them. We need Atlanta. We need to come here and run well. We need to have a top three or top five day and that would help a lot."

Roush teammate Mark Martin had the second quickest time with a lap of 189.957 mph, "I like the mile-and-a-half race tracks and this is very much a handling race track. I hate tracks that aren't handling race tracks, but this is huge for handling and that's the big reason. It's multiple grooves for those guys, but it's only one groove for me -- the bottom. Win, lose or indifferent that's where I'll be."

Pole sitter Kasey Kahne was third with a lap of 188.571 mph. In four starts at Atlanta, Kahne has three top-five results.

"Atlanta is definitely one of my favorite tracks," commented Kahne. "It's fast, wide and has several grooves for the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger. It's important to watch what other drivers are doing as well as try different lines yourself. The key is finding the fastest way around the track that last 100 miles. For me, that's been at the top of the track most of the time.

"If I can make it work outside, I feel like I can carry more speed. I always ran high when I was racing sprint cars, so I just feel comfortable there and when the car is working, I can carry more momentum off the corner."

Kurt Busch and Robby Gordon completed the top five fastest times.

"Our team's strategy is right on track, and I've got a lot of confidence heading into Atlanta coming off such a strong finish in Vegas," said NASCAR's only full time owner/driver, Gordon. "The team is doing everything they can to give me the best race cars and pit stops during the race.

"Everyone's doing a phenomenal job. Atlanta is a super fast track, and I'm looking forward to another top finish this weekend. It's definitely a confidence boost for everyone involved when you know you're in a good place with your overall program."

The 325-miler at AMS is set to kick off at 1:30 on Sunday.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Robby Gordon , Kurt Busch , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Mark Martin