atlanta motor speedway

Cale Yarborough
Getty Images

March 27 in NASCAR history: Cale Yarborough’s show car wins at Atlanta

Leave a comment

Four races into the 1983 NASCAR Cup Series season and Cale Yarborough was batting .500.

In those four races – the Daytona 500, Richmond, Rockingham and Atlanta – the three-time champion had won twice.

And he’d earned both those wins in backup cars.

He’d won the Daytona 500 on a last-laps pass in a quickly prepared LeMans after he’d flipped his primary car the week before in qualifying.

Two races later, at Rockingham, Yarborough was involved in a wreck with Neil Bonnett after leading 161 laps. That car was the same one his team had intended to take to the March 27 race at Atlanta.

Instead, the car Yarborough showed up with in Atlanta and beat Bonnett for the victory was another backup car. And not just any backup car.

“We had to pull a show car out of a mall to race,” Yarborough said after the race according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: The Modern Era.”

Yarborough won four times in 1983. The Atlanta win and his ensuing win at Michigan came after he started 41st and 37th.

Also on this date:

1960: Lee Petty bumped his way by Junior Johnson with 14 laps to go and won a race at North Wilkesboro to claim his 49th career Cup win, passing Herb Thomas for the most all-time. Fans were not pleased with how Johnson, a native of North Wilkesboro, lost. According to “NASCAR: The Complete History,” they showered Petty with rocks and debris as he celebrated in victory lane.

1977: Cale Yarborough celebrated his 38th birthday with a dominating win at North Wilkesboro. He led 320 of 400 laps and beat Richard Petty and Benny Parsons.

1988: Darlington Raceway hasn’t been the site of too many upset Cup Series wins, but it was 1988. Lake Speed, then 40, dominated to win the TranSouth 500 by 18.8 seconds over Alan Kulwicki. Speed, who made 402 Cup starts between 1980-98, led 178 of 367 laps. Speed, Kulwicki and third-place finisher Davey Allison were the only drivers on the lead lap.

2004: Martin Truex Jr. led 134 of 250 laps at Bristol and won his first career Xfinity Series race and his first national NASCAR series race. Truex, the 2004 and 2005 Xfinity champion, would have to wait 15 more years to capture his first short-track win in the Cup Series, in 2019 at Richmond.

2011: Kevin Harvick passed Jimmie Johnson on the last lap to win the Cup race at Auto Club Speedway.

March 20 in NASCAR History: Carl Edwards’ dramatic first Cup Series win

Leave a comment

The NASCAR world got introduced to Carl Edwards in a big way in March 2005.

In the span of 24 hours, March 19-20, Edwards claimed his first career wins in both the Cup and Xfinity Series.

The wins came in his 17th and and seventh career starts in each series during a race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The finish in the Cup race was true to form for Atlanta, which was a regular host of dramatic photo finishes in the early 2000s, long before its track surface was worn down into a driver favorite.

The final 44 laps saw Edwards, driving Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 99 Ford, dueling with future seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson.

(Photo by Bill Gutweiler/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Johnson controlled the lead for 39 laps in that stretch while Edwards led the remaining five, including the final one.

Using the high line, Edwards chased down Johnson before pouncing in Turn 4 as they came to the checkered flag.

Edwards and Johnson slammed doors as they came through the tri-oval, and Edwards pulled ahead at the final moment to win by .028 seconds.

With the crowd in a frenzy, Edwards capped it off by performing his trademark celebratory backflip from the top of his car.

It was an image fans would get to see 27 more times from Edwards in the Cup Series, including the following October as he completed a sweep of the Atlanta races. Edwards was the first driver to sweep the Cup and Xfinity races at Atlanta in one weekend.

“Let me tell you Jimmie Johnson is an amazing competitor,” Edwards told Fox in victory lane. “I’m telling you I’ve never driven that hard in my life.”

 

NASCAR driver: ‘Sitting here at home on a Saturday. It feels weird’

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Saturday was to have been the day NASCAR fans found out: Could someone defeat Kyle Busch in a Truck race?

The answer had been no in Busch’s last seven series starts, dating to 2018, but the interest in his streak built the last few weeks.

It started with a Feb. 22 tweet from Kevin Harvick: “I’ll put up a $50,000 bounty for any full time cup driver who races a truck and can beat @KyleBusch in his next 4 races. #gameon.”

Marcus Lemonis, from series sponsor Gander RV & Outdoors, added another $50,000 to Harvick’s bounty. Truck owner Chris Larsen pledged $50,000 to any Truck Series regular who could win a series race with Kyle Busch.

Suddenly, Saturday’s Truck race at Atlanta Motor Speedway became the most anticipated series event since the Trucks ran at Eldora Speedway for the first time in 2013.

With sports shut down, including NASCAR, for the foreseeable future because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saturday became a day of confusion. What to do with no racing and no sports.

“I’m sitting here at home on a Saturday. It feels weird,” Matt DiBenedetto said in a video to fans.

Ryan Newman, who continues his recovery from a head injury suffered in a crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500, took time for more of what he called “therapy” on Saturday. He went fishing.

Aric Almirola did some racing at home with his children.

This much is certain. NASCAR postponed this weekend’s races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and next weekend’s races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was to have made his one Xfinity start at Miami. Now? We’ll see.

Next on the schedule is Texas Motor Speedway. It hosts Trucks, Xfinity and Cup on March 27-29.

On Friday, the mayor of Fort Worth, Texas issued a state of emergency that included a mandatory cancelation of any events or gatherings with an expected attendance of 250 people or more. The mandate, though, is for seven days.

Texas Motor Speedway issued a statement Saturday that track officials are “currently preparing to host our regularly scheduled events and will continue consulting with officials on best practices and recommendations.”

But there will be racing Sunday even if Atlanta Motor Speedway will sit silent.

Kevin Hamlin, spotter for Alex Bowman, tweeted that there will be a 100-lap NASCAR industry iRacing event at 3 p.m. ET Sunday. Among those scheduled to take part are Hamlin, Bowman, Earnhardt, William Byron, Bubba Wallace, Justin Allgaier, Harrison Burton and crew chief Chad Knaus.

DiBenedetto mentioned in his video to fans about an iRacing event next weekend..

As restrictions continue and events are postponed, the only races for NASCAR fans could be online events with some of the their favorite drivers.

“Hope all this stuff passes,” DiBenedetto said in his video to fans. “Hang with us and we can get back to the racetrack soon.”

NASCAR community reacts to race postponements due to COVID-19

AP Photo
Leave a comment

A few hours before cars and trucks would take to the track, NASCAR announced the postponement of this weekend’s races in Atlanta and next weekend’s races at Homestead due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The announcement came with President Trump expected to declare a national emergency Friday afternoon.

Members of the NASCAR community took to social media to share their thoughts on an unprecedented moment in the sport.

NASCAR postpones Atlanta, Homestead races

Getty Images
2 Comments

NASCAR announced Friday that it has postponed this weekend’s races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and next weekend’s races at Homestead-Miami Speedway because of COVID-19. No makeup dates have been set.

NASCAR stated: “NASCAR has decided to postpone the race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend and Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend. We believe this decision is in the best interest of the safety and well-being of our fans, competitors, officials and everyone associated with our sport. We will continue to monitor this dynamic situation as we assess future race events.”

NASCAR and IndyCar were among the few sports planning to compete this weekend after several sports and events were either postponed or canceled because of COVID-19. IndyCar announced it has canceled all events through April.

MORE: President Trump to declare national emergency to combat coronavirus 

Augusta National Golf Club announced Friday morning that the Masters Tournament, scheduled for April 9-12, has been postponed.

The Boston Marathon, scheduled for April 20, announced Friday that the event has been moved to Sept. 14.

In a letter to fans Thursday night, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stated: “This hiatus will last at least 30 days and we intend to resume the season, if and when, it becomes safe for all concerned.”

Major League Baseball announced Thursday that it would delay the regular season “by at least two weeks due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic.” Opening day had been scheduled for March 26.

The NCAA canceled the men’s and women’s basketball tournament, turning March Madness into March Sadness, and all spring sport championships, including some events that would not be held until after Memorial Day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated Thursday that there were 1,215 total cases of COVID-19 (both confirmed and presumptive awaiting test results) in the United States with 36 deaths. The CDC stated that 42 states and the District of Columbia reported cases.

Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and car owner Joe Falk were among those who tweeted about the news Friday: