We do know Carl is FAST

March 05, 2008 7:00 AM
by

share

Finish Line by Micah Roberts | This week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Atlanta has the same questions raised and asked from last week when they visited Las Vegas.

The one variable that has changed is that we now have two races run on intermediate tracks with the new car. We also have one race run on a 1˝-mile high-banked track with the COT.

ROBERTS TOP 5
at ATLANTA
1.
#17
Matt Kenseth
7-1
2.
#31
Jeff Burton
20-1
3.
#99
Carl Edwards
5-1
4.
#24
Jeff Gordon
8-1
5.
#16
Greg Biffle
13-1
EVENTS
WINS
TOP 10s 
4
2
12 of 25

What we also know is that Carl Edwards is fast!

All the data accumulated over the last two weeks will go a long way into figuring out who is going to be the driver to beat this week, if you don’t know already.

Atlanta has a rich, long history in NASCAR and has been the site of some of the closest finishes of all time. Reason being the track allows for tight racing and lots of passing. One of the things the drivers have all discussed with the new car on these tracks is that the passing is the one noticeable thing from the old car.

Jeff Gordon noted last week in Las Vegas that the difference entering into turns was huge with the new car being much tougher to get a handle on than the older version. Mix that fact with the existing raciness of the track and we should have a pretty eventful race this Sunday.

Just like Las Vegas last week, the story coming in should be Jimmie Johnson because he swept Atlanta’s two races last season. However, Edwards has taken over the show. While Johnson looks to be a little behind with the COT on these types of tracks, Edwards is way ahead of everyone.

Two intermediate tracks and two wins! The writing doesn’t get bolder than that. Edwards showed that his California win two weeks ago was a sign of things to come. He took two separate cars and dominated at two different tracks. A wise proposition would include not betting against Edwards until he shows some kind of weakness and vulnerability.

Edwards now goes to the site of his first career Cup win and a place that he swept in 2005 as a rookie. Last season, as if that matters based on how he currently is running, he finished seventh and second in the two Atlanta races.

The Vegas race was interesting because of how good so many different teams were late and conversely how bad so many supposed good teams were. The Gibbs trio of Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Tony Stewart were non-factors, while Jack Roush dominated the track as if it were 1998 all over again. Roush is still King of the Cookie Cutter and he’s setting himself up nicely for a third points championship with a third different driver.

Making a nice appearance at Vegas, much to the delight of the fans, was Dale Earnhardt Jr who finished second. While everyone was wondering where Gordon and Johnson would finish in the top 5, Junior took the Hendrick reigns and led the fight.

It was encouraging for that team to have a good run and take some pressure off after poor results in Daytona and California. An observation I took from the race after looking at all from Junior Nation was that the sea of Red was much more powerful than the Mountain Dew Amp Green.

It will take almost as long for me to get used to that as calling the Busch series Nationwide.

Atlanta Driver Averages
Jimmie Johnson had a streak of three straight victories at Las Vegas spoiled
last week. However, he is still alive to win his third consecutive Atlanta race, having
swept the two events last year. Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart won in 2006. 
Driver
 starts
wins 
03I 
03II
04I
04II
05I
05II
06
06II
ave
Jeff Gordon
15
1
2
1
10
34
39
2
4
6
10.1
Carl Edwards
6
2
3
1
1
40
7
10.4
Jimmie Johnson
12
3
32
3
4
1
2
16
6
2
10.9
Dale Earnhardt Jr
15
1
3
6
1
33
24
4
3
3
11.1
Tony Stewart
15
2
5
2
7
9
17
9
5
1
12.0
Greg Biffle 
9
0
13
34
8
10
3
7
16
5
12.0
Dale Jarrett
15
0
21
12
9
15
23
14
9
11
13.8
Kasey Kahne
7
1
3
6
6
35
1
38
14.5
Matt Kenseth
15
0
4
11
6
41
31
5
13
4
16.5
Ryan Newman
11
0
10
29
5
17
14
23
18
30
16.6