Geoffrey Bodine

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Atlanta Motor Speedway repairs, reseals track ahead of February race

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Nearly two years after a scheduled repave of Atlanta Motor Speedway was delayed at the drivers’ request, the track continues to repair the old surface.

On Friday, Atlanta posted a video on Twitter detailing the work underway to repair and reseal the 21-year old surface.

Atlanta Motor Speedway was last repaved in 1997.

Scheduled to be repaved in late March 2017, a hue and cry rose up from NASCAR’s drivers.

At the time, speedway President Ed Clark said: “There’s no question that the surface is worn out, but probably the most powerful lobby this side of Washington, D.C., was the biggest influence. They kind of put the pressure on. I understand.”

And the repave was called off.

MORE: Atlanta Motor Speedway to delay repave at least a year (March, 2017)
MORE: Atlanta Motor Speedway will be repaved after March race (January 2017)

After the 1997 repaving, Geoffrey Bodine set a pole record lap of 197.478 mph in the November race.

In 2018, the pole speed fell to 184.652 mph when Kyle Busch posted the fastest lap in Round 3 of qualification.

When announcing the delay in repaving the track, Clark also noted that repaving would eventually be inevitable, suggesting at the time that they might get only one more year out of the surface.

“All you’ve got to do is walk out there and look at it,” Clark said. “It is absolutely worn out. But if the drivers say, hey our choice is to race on this surface as it is ….

“There comes a point (when a repave is needed). We do have a few drainage issues we do need to correct, some other things when the time comes. Right now, we’re going to get through 2018 and evaluate and see if that is the time or when is it.”

On Feb. 24, drivers will have at least one more season to battle the abrasive surface.

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Monster Energy All-Star Race format to go back to ‘One Hot Night’ roots

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This year’s Monster Energy All-Star race format on May 20 will go back in time.

NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway announced Tuesday that the 25th anniversary of the first All-Star Race held at night will be run with the same format as the first race that was held in 1992.

The “Silver Anniversary Gold Rush” of the iconic “One Hot Night” will once again have a $1 million prize to the winning team.

Here’s how this year’s format shapes up:

  • The race will feature four stages (20 laps / 20 laps / 20 laps / 10 laps), totaling 70 laps, an ode to the 1992 edition of the same distance.
  • The final 10-lap stage will feature just 10 cars/drivers who earned their way into the main event, particularly with how they finished collectively in the prior three 20-lap stages that evening.
  • All three stage winners will be locked into the 10-lap finale for the big prize, but with a caveat – they all must be on the lead lap at the end of the third stage.
  • The cars with the best average finish in the first three stages will make up the remaining spots needed to fill the 10-car final stage.
  • The 10 cars in the fourth and final stage will be lined up by average finish of the first three stages and given the option to pit. Exit off pit road determines starting order for final stage.

“This new 70-lap format pays tribute to the 25th anniversary of ‘One Hot Night’ while pushing the drivers to the brink of insanity with the chances they’ll take to win $1 million,” Charlotte Motor Speedway president and general manager Marcus Smith said in a media release. “I’m as ready as our fans for a May 20 Saturday night shootout where only a daredevil behind the wheel truly has a shot at Victory Lane.”

There’s also one added bonus of sorts: each team will receive one set of “softer tires,” to be used at their discretion. Softer tires provide cars more grip and speed, but there’s one caveat: if a team holds off using its set of softer tires until the final stage, then its car will start the 10-car/10-lap finale at the back of the field.

According to Goodyear, “the Option set-up is projected to be three- to five-tenths of a second faster per lap, out of the box.” Also, instead of Goodyear’s traditional yellow letters – which will remain on the Prime tires to be used in both the All-Star events and the Coca-Cola 600 on May 27 – the Option tires will feature bold, green lettering.

Several drivers have already clinched a starting spot in the All-Star Race based upon:

  • * Drivers who won a points event in either 2016 or 2017.
  • * Drivers who have won a previous Monster Energy All-Star Race and are competing full-time in 2017
  • * Drivers who have won a past Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship and are competing fulltime in 2017.

Those drivers include: Chris Buescher, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.

 

“The Monster Energy All-Star Race is designed to be fun for fans, showcasing the best drivers and race teams in NASCAR,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “With the effort that Goodyear has put into this race with multiple tire compounds, I am excited to see how the stages play out, especially the final 10-car, 10-lap sprint to the checkered flag.”

Qualifying takes place on Friday, May 19, including the “no speed limit” four-tire pit stop.

According to the media release, “Each team will have three timed laps, one of which will include a mandatory four-tire pit stop with no pit-road speed limits enforced. The five quickest teams will advance to the final round of qualifying to determine starting positions one through five. The team that completes the fastest stop will earn the Pit Crew Competition Award.”

There will be two other ways for drivers to advance to the All-Star Race:

1.) The traditional Monster Energy Open will be held prior to the All-Star Race earlier in the evening of May 20. The Open will feature three stages of 20, 20 and 10 laps. The winner of each stage will advance to the All-Star Race, Qualifying for the Open will take place on Friday, May 19, where the field will be set by two rounds of traditional knock-out qualifying.

2) By winning the popular Fan Vote.

Lastly, both the Monster Energy Open and Monster Energy All-Star Race will be televised on Fox Sports 1 starting at 6 p.m. ET on May 20. The Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 will carry the radio broadcasts of both events, as well.

Here’s a list of all winners of the All-Star Race, dating back to its inception in 1985:

1985 Darrell Waltrip
1986 Bill Elliott
1987 Dale Earnhardt
1988 Terry Labonte
1989 Rusty Wallace
1990 Dale Earnhardt
1991 Davey Allison
1992 Davey Allison (first night race)
1993 Dale Earnhardt
1994 Geoffrey Bodine
1995 Jeff Gordon
1996 Michael Waltrip
1997 Jeff Gordon
1998 Mark Martin
1999 Terry Labonte
2000 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2001 Jeff Gordon
2002 Ryan Newman
2003 Jimmie Johnson
2004 Matt Kenseth
2005 Mark Martin
2006 Jimmie Johnson
2007 Kevin Harvick
2008 Kasey Kahne
2009 Tony Stewart
2010 Kurt Busch
2011 Carl Edwards
2012 Jimmie Johnson
2013 Jimmie Johnson
2014 Jamie McMurray
2015 Denny Hamlin
2016 Joey Logano

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Sprint Cup driver statistics for Atlanta Motor Speedway

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They say the week after the Daytona 500 is when the real NASCAR season begins.

But this year’s, it’s a bit different. As part of its 2015 schedule, NASCAR moved Atlanta Motor Speedway’s lone Sprint Cup race to the second week of the season, which in turn allowed Darlington Raceway to return to its traditional Labor Day weekend spot.

Atlanta begins a pivotal four-race stretch with two races on 1.5-milers (Atlanta, Las Vegas), then the one-miler at Phoenix and the two-miler at Fontana. We’ll see which teams truly have an advantage.

Here’s a look at how top Sprint Cup drivers have fared on the high-banked Atlanta oval over the years.

ATLANTA-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ortho Ford)
·    Three top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole
·    Average finish of 15.7
·    Average Running Position of 13.9, 12th-best
·    Driver Rating of 90.8, 11th-best
·    237 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
·    1,031 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
·    3,466 Laps in the Top 15 (66.2%), sixth-most
·    539 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), seventh-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet)
·    One win, eight top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles
·    Average finish of 12.3
·    Average Running Position of 13.0, 10th-best
·    Driver Rating of 92.7, ninth-best
·    227 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
·    1,119 Green Flag Passes, third-most
·    Average Green Flag Speed of 171.203 mph, eighth-fastest
·    3,382 Laps in the Top 15 (64.6%), seventh-most
·    535 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Carl Edwards (No. 19 ARRIS Toyota)
·    Three wins, nine top fives, 11 top 10s
·    Average finish of 14.6
·    Average Running Position of 12.4, eighth-best
·    Driver Rating of 100.1, third-best
·    Series-high 371 Fastest Laps Run
·    Average Green Flag Speed of 171.499 mph, second-fastest
·    4,038 Laps in the Top 15 (77.1%), third-most
·    552 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 3M Chevrolet)
·    Five wins, 16 top fives, 26 top 10s; two poles
·    Average finish of 11.9
·    Average Running Position of 10.2, second-best
·    Series-best Driver Rating of 106.0
·    296 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
·    Average Green Flag Speed of 171.453 mph, fourth-fastest
·    4,161 Laps in the Top 15 (79.5%), second-most
·    Series-high 612 Quality Passes

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota)
·    One win, three top fives, six top 10s; one pole
·    Average finish of 16.8
·    Average Running Position of 12.1, fifth-best
·    Driver Rating of 97.4, sixth-best
·    263 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
·    Average Green Flag Speed of 171.463 mph, third-fastest
·    3,312 Laps in the Top 15 (67.4%), ninth-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John’s/ Budweiser Chevrolet)
·    One win, five top fives, nine top 10s; one pole
·    Average finish of 18.8
·    Driver Rating of 90.4, 12th-best
·    280 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
·    949 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
·    Average Green Flag Speed of 171.232 mph, seventh-fastest
·    3,045 Laps in the Top 15 (58.1%), 12th-most
·    470 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
·    Three wins, 12 top fives, 14 top 10s
·    Average finish of 11.5
·    Series-best Average Running Position of 9.1
·    Driver Rating of 104.9, second-best
·    280 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
·    Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 171.523 mph
·    Series-high 4,381 Laps in the Top 15 (83.7%)
·    582 Quality Passes, third-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)
·    Nine top fives, 15 top 10s
·    Average finish of 12.3
·    Average Running Position of 12.2, sixth-best
·    Driver Rating of 97.9, fifth-best
·    201 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
·    1,034 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
·    Average Green Flag Speed of 171.339 mph, fifth-fastest
·    3,749 Laps in the Top 15 (71.6%), fourth-most
·    544 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Kyle Larson (No. 42 ENERGIZER Chevrolet)
·    One top 10
·    Average finish of 8.0
·    Average Running Position of 11.3, third-best
·    Driver Rating of 91.1, 10th-best

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
·    Three wins, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole
·    Average finish of 12.7
·    Average Running Position of 12.3, seventh-best
·    Driver Rating of 98.1, fourth-best
·    233 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
·    Average Green Flag Speed of 171.191 mph, ninth-fastest
·    3,353 Laps in the Top 15 (68.3%), eighth-most
·    509 Quality Passes, 10th-most

source:

Atlanta Motor Speedway Data
Season Race #: 2 of 36 (03-01-14)
Track Size: 1.54-miles
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 24 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 24 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 5 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 5 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 2,332 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,800 feet
Race Length: 325 laps / 500.5 miles

Qualifying/Race Data
2014 pole winner: Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 190.398 mph, 29.118 secs., 08-29-14
2014 race winner: Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 131.514 mph, (03:55:22), 08-31-14
Track qualifying record: Geoffrey Bodine, Ford, 197.478 mph, 28.074 secs., 11-15-97
Track race record: Bobby Labonte, Pontiac, 159.904 mph, (03:07:48), 11-16-97