NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Next Race: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, Feb. 28
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90
Distance: 500.5 miles (325 laps)
Daytona Drama: Hamlin Wins Great American Race by Closest Margin in its History
Denny Hamlin provided viewers more drama in the closing moments of the Daytona 500 than fans have seen in the race’s history. Literally and statistically.
The No. 11 Toyota driver made a move from his fourth position with less than two laps remaining in Sunday’s Daytona 500, dove between Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr., then beat Truex to the start/finish line by 0.010 seconds – the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the history of The Great American Race.
Hamlin’s MOV on Sunday also ranks tied for the seventh closest in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history.
Don’t be surprised to see another tight finish in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Two of the top-ten closest finishes in NASCAR history are at the Georgia track.
On March 11, 2001, Kevin Harvick beat Jeff Gordon to the start/finish line by 0.006 seconds – the fifth-closest margin of victory in the series annals. On March 12, 2000, Dale Earnhardt edged out Bobby Labonte at Atlanta by 0.010 seconds, tied with Hamlin’s Daytona MOV and Matt Kenseth’s Rockingham MOV (2/22/04) for the seventh-closest MOV on the all-time Sprint Cup Series list.
Hamlin will attempt to join his teammate Matt Kenseth (2009) as only the second driver since 2000 to open a season with two wins. The Daytona 500 champion won at Atlanta in 2012 and claims the fourth-best driver rating at that track (97.2).
Hamlin’s Daytona victory virtually locks him into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He has three bonus points for the Round of 16 and can gain three more bonus points for each win he accumulates before the Chase begins.
Last season’s Daytona 500 winner, Joey Logano, followed up his victory with a fourth-place finish at Atlanta.
Hometown Hero: Elliott Making Sprint Cup Début at Atlanta
Following a disappointing Daytona 500 début when he finished 37th from the pole due to an early race wreck, Sunoco Rookie of the Year Chase Elliott gets to make his Sprint Cup Series début at his home track – Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The Dawsonville, Georgia native has made two NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at the 1.54-mile track, finishing fifth both times.
Elliott embarks on his Sprint Cup Series career hoping to one day surpass the winningest Georgians in Sprint Cup history – his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott (44 wins), Jack Smith (21) and Fonty Flock (15).
Five of Bill Elliott’s 44 wins came at Atlanta.
Chasing Earnhardt: Johnson Readies To Repeat At Atlanta, Tie ‘The Intimidator’
By visiting Victory Lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, Jimmie Johnson would not only repeat at the track he won at last year, but tie Dale Earnhardt for seventh on the all-time-wins list with 76 career victories.
The six-time Sprint Cup Series champion leads active drivers with four wins and 13 top-fives at Atlanta. He also boasts series bests in average running position (9.0), driver rating (106.2) and average green flag speed (171.845 MPH) there. Additionally, Johnson boasts the second-best average finish among active competitors at Atlanta (10.1).
Ty Dillon to Take No. 14 Seat for Stewart this Weekend
Ty Dillon will take the wheel of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in place of driver/owner Tony Stewart this weekend. He is also scheduled to pilot Stewart’s car at Phoenix and Auto Club. Brian Vickers will drive the No. 14 at Las Vegas.
Vickers wheeled the No. 14 in the Daytona 500, finishing 26th. Dillon competed in the season opener for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing in the No. 95 Chevrolet and placed 25th.
Considered one of the top young drivers in NASCAR’s developmental ranks, Dillon has made his name in the XFINITY Series where he finished third in the final standings last year and fifth the season before. He has made eight career Sprint Cup Series starts with a high finish of 14th at Michigan in 2015.
Vickers returned to racing in Daytona for the first time since competing at Las Vegas last March. He had to sit out for most of the 2015 season due to health problems stemming from blood clots.
Kahne Is Able at Atlanta
One of the more memorable moments spurred by the new Chase format was Kasey Kahne’s ‘do-or-die’ victory in 2014 at Atlanta Motor Speedway – a track at which he excels.
Kahne is definitely a driver to watch for in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 at the Georgia track. In 19 Atlanta starts, Kahne has three wins – his second most at any track – seven top-fives and nine top-tens.
The No. 5 Chevrolet driver’s 262 fastest laps run at Atlanta rank second among active drivers.
Kahne’s owner, Rick Hendrick, boasts 13 wins at Atlanta – the most of any owner.
Logano Searches for First Cup Win at Facility he Starred at in his Youth
At the age of 9, Joey Logano moved from Connecticut to Georgia with his family to aid his racing aspirations and his sister’s figure skating career.
Logano quickly turned Atlanta Motor Speedway into his personal playground, winning the National Bandolero Bandits’ championship in 1999 and capturing the Atlanta Motor Speedway Bandolero division championship in 2000. At age 12 (in 2002), Logano set a track record with 14 consecutive Legends wins – a mark that still stands. He captured the Young Lions championship the same year.
The No. 22 Team Penske driver is still searching for his first NASCAR national series win at Atlanta. He has struggled there with only two top-tens in nine starts, but finished fourth last season after winning the pole, and second in 2013.
Logano finished sixth in the Daytona 500.