The Frontstretch: Race Trax: Nicorette 300 by Amy Henderson -- Thursday March 16, 2006

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Race Trax: Nicorette 300

Amy Henderson · Thursday March 16, 2006

 

On Track
The Nicorette 300 is the fifth race on the 35-race NASCAR Busch Series Schedule. The Busch Series will visit the 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway just once in 2006, with only the Cup series coming back for a return date in the fall. AMS has hosted a Busch Series race each year since 1992. It is a high-banked tri-oval track with 24 degrees of banking in the corners, and five degrees on the straightaways. The field will include 2005 polesitter and race winner Carl Edwards.

48 teams will compete for 43 starting spots for Sunday, with the Top 30 in car owner points guaranteed a starting position. Qualifying runs consist of two laps, with the fastest lap setting a team’s time. The Busch Series Qualifying record at AMS is 192.300mph, set by Greg Biffle in 2003.

What To Expect
Atlanta Motor Speedway is the fastest track hat the Busch Series has visited so far in 2006. This sometimes means some of the most exciting racing to be found on a mile-and-a-half track. It occasionally also means a lot of cautions for the Busch crowd.

Like Las Vegas last week, Atlanta can produce both edge-of-your seat (.119 is the smallest margin of victory) and runaway finishes (the largest victory margin is 14 seconds and change). Expect a fast-paced, wild race, but also expect a few yellow flag periods to slow things down.

Who to Watch
The trend at AMS favors the Buschwhackers…seventeen of whom are entered…partly because of their equipment, but also because of their experience. Carl Edwards may not have the experience at AMS that some of his competitors do, but he got his first career weekend sweep last year with his first career Busch Series and Nextel Cup wins. Ryan Newman had dominating wins in seemingly every Busch race he entered last year. Also, look for speed from Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, and Mark Martin. Despite a relative lack of experience, sophomore Reed Sorenson will be wheeling the car extra hard at his home track.

Still, the Busch regulars have their share of wins at AMS, and many a Nextel Cup driver got a Busch win at AMS before moving up. The most recent of these was Jamie McMurray, now a Buschwhacker in this race. Veterans Jason Keller and David Green should have solid runs this week, as should youngster Paul Menard.

Did You Know:

  • When McMurray won his Atlanta race in 2002, he led only one lap…the last one?

  • The most cars ever to be on the lead lap at the end of an AMS Busch race is 15? That has only happened twice…and never in this decade.
  • That only three race winners at AMS have started on the pole? Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Greg Biffle are the only front-row starters to prevail in 14 races at Atlanta.

You Don’t Say"¦
“I’m pretty optimistic for this weekend. We’ve had good cars up to this point and Kevin ran well in California. We learned a lot there and we’ve learned a lot since then, so I except to have a good weekend. Plus you always want to run extra well when the boss is in the car!” *Wally Rogers*, Crew Chief for Kevin Harvick, on having a little extra motivation at AMS

“The track is fast, wide, and there are multiple grooves for racing. It’s a fun track for the drivers because we can really race against each other. And, if your car isn’t working in one place, you can move around and find a line that might be a little better. Atlanta provides some of the best racing we see all year, and that’s been proved by some of the close finishes we seen over the last couple of years.” driver Jason Leffler on AMS

“Before we left for Vegas last week I told the Ultimate Chargers crew that the only reason I would make them turn the same car around in two days and send it to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend would be if it won the race. I kind of had to eat my words on that one.” *Trip Bruce*, Crew Chief for Kasey Kahne, who won the Sam’s Town 300 last week

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Contact Amy Henderson

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