NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Atlanta Fall Race Edition

Jeff Gordon – In 30 Cup starts at Atlanta, the points leader has posted four victories and 18 top-10 finishes. However, he finished 12th in the race this spring.

Jimmie Johnson – Johnson won here in March to post his second Atlanta Cup victory. After 12 starts here, Johnson has eight top-10 results and an average finishing position of 10th.

Clint Bowyer – While Bowyer struggled here last year, the Chase Cinderella did manage a sixth-place finish here this spring.

Tony Stewart – Stewart won this race last year and finished second this spring. The win was Stewart’s second Cup victory at Atlanta; he’s averaging a 12th-place finish in his 17 career starts here, and he has top-10 finishes in 11 of the last 12 Atlanta Cup races.

Carl Edwards – Edwards won both Atlanta Cup races in 2005, and he has five top-10 results in the six Cup races he’s run here. He’s averaging a 10th-place finish in those events.

Kyle Busch – After six Atlanta Cup starts, Busch has yet to post a top-10 finish, and is averaging a mediocre 23rd-place result. But Busch did dominate the Busch Series race this spring, losing out in a to-the-wire drag race with Jeff Burton.

Kevin Harvick – The grieving NASCAR community took some comfort in Harvick’s win at Atlanta in 2001, driving as a sadly inadequate replacement for Dale Earnhardt. Later that season, Harvick finished third here; but in the 11 races since then, the best finish he has managed is just 19th. His average finishing position is even worse: 25th place.

NEFF: FANTASY PICKS ‘N’ PANS ENTERING ATLANTA

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin has just one top-10 finish after four Cup starts at Atlanta.

Jeff Burton – Burton’s fourth-place finish here this spring was his first top five at Atlanta since 1999. He’s managed just three top-10 finishes in his last 10 Cup starts here and he hasn’t led more than five laps in any single Atlanta Cup race since 1994.

Kurt Busch – Busch’s win here in 2002 is offset by six finishes outside the top 30 in just 13 Cup starts at Atlanta.

Martin Truex Jr. – Truex’s eighth-place finish at Atlanta this spring was his first top-10 result here in five starts. He’s averaging a 28th-place finish.

Matt Kenseth – Kenseth has top-five finishes in three of the last four Cup races at Atlanta. He also won a Busch Series race here in 2004.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Earnhardt won here in 2004. He has top-five finishes in three of the last four races here, but finished 14th in the spring.

Ryan Newman – It’s hard to bet against Newman in Friday qualifying – he’s won poles in seven of his 11 starts here, and has qualified on the outside pole on two other occasions. But Newman hasn’t been able to seal the deal during the race. He finished 10th in his first three Atlanta Cup starts, but has just one additional top-10 finish in the eight races since.

Greg Biffle – Biffle has been steady, if not spectacular, in his nine Atlanta Cup starts. He has top-10 finishes in five of those races and an average finishing position of 15th; however, his 41st-place finish here in the spring didn’t help that average any.

Casey Mears – After nine Atlanta Cup starts, Mears is still looking for his first top-10 finish. He’s averaging a 24th-place finish here.

Bobby Labonte – This may be Labonte’s best track. He’s won six Cup races here over the course of his career; however, he’s failed to post a top-10 result in the last seven Atlanta Cup races.

Jamie McMurray – McMurray has no top-five finishes here and an average finishing position of 19th after 10 Atlanta Cup starts.

Juan Pablo Montoya – Early on, this appears to be one of Montoya’s better tracks; the Colombian finished fifth in this year’s Atlanta Cup race and eighth in that weekend’s Busch Series event.

Kasey Kahne – Kahne won here in the spring of 2006, and has top-10 finishes in four of his seven Atlanta Cup starts. His other three races here have been disasters though, with finishes outside the top 30. In fact, he’s crashed in the last two Cup races held at the track.

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