Most of our diehard readers know that I'm a vocal supporter of short track racing but I can't help but think that Atlanta Motor Speedway is perhaps the best such surface in NASCAR. Side-by-side racing and a dramatic finish is all but guaranteed due in part to the track's old worn-out surface, with some of the sport's most-memorable moments taking place on the 1.5-mile Georgia Speedway.
The Penske Racing duo of Brad Keselowski and Sam Hornish Jr. were quickest in practice and have been the cars to beat on intermediate tracks for the majority of the season - at least in races where Joey Logano is not entered. Tonight is one such race.
Hornish is perhaps the hottest driver without a win in the Nationwide Series. He's finished no lower than 10th in the last 11 races and has climbed to third in the standings, 28 points behind Elliott Sadler. He's due.
Danica Patrick has responded well to Atlanta in her brief practice sessions thus far. She was 15th in final practice and has requested that crew chief Tony Eury Jr. loosen-up the set-up. That's akin to dropping the reigns for Patrick, a driver who appears to be finding her groove as the season comes to a conclusion.
Saturday night's race will be her first at the famous Georgia half-mile.
The championship battle will again take center stage this week with Hornish, Elliott Sadler, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. all looking competitive in their respective practice sessions. Sadler leads Stenhouse by 19 points with Hornish lurking 28 points out of the lead.
Remember that last year's championship battle took a major turn last year at Atlanta when teammates Justin Allgaier and Reed Sorenson crashed in the closing laps. Sorenson fell out of contention as a result of the accident and was later fired from Turner Motorsports with many pointing to Atlanta as the genesis of the internal conflict.
Kyle Busch is on the pole for tonight's race with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin completing the top-10. The pole is Busch's 24th in the Nationwide Series.
The race is 195 laps for 300.3 miles with flag-to-flag coverage provided by ESPN. Treat this post as both the general race preview and discussion thread. A complete starting lineup, when available, can be found after the jump.
Atlanta Motor Speedway
21st Annual NRA American Warrior 300
Provided by NASCAR Statistics - Sat, September 01, 2012 @ 04:37 PM Eastern
Track Qualifying Record: Greg Biffle 10/25/03 28.83 192.3
|1||54||Kyle Busch(i)||Monster Energy Toyota||31.450||176.280||0.000||0.000|
|2||6||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Cargill Beef Ford||31.469||176.173||0.019||0.019|
|3||33||Kevin Harvick(i)||Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet||31.500||176.000||0.050||0.031|
|4||38||Kasey Kahne(i)||Great Clips Chevrolet||31.550||175.721||0.100||0.050|
|5||18||Denny Hamlin(i)||Z-Line Designs Toyota||31.598||175.454||0.148||0.048|
|6||12||Sam Hornish Jr.||Alliance Truck Parts Dodge||31.606||175.410||0.156||0.008|
|7||2||Elliott Sadler||OneMain Financial Chevrolet||31.688||174.956||0.238||0.082|
|8||22||Brad Keselowski(i)||Discount Tire Dodge||31.743||174.653||0.293||0.055|
|9||3||Austin Dillon #||AdvoCare Chevrolet||31.779||174.455||0.329||0.036|
|10||44||Mike Bliss||BANDITchippers.com Toyota||31.822||174.219||0.372||0.043|
|11||98||Reed Sorenson||Carroll Shelby Engines Ford||31.855||174.039||0.405||0.033|
|12||88||Cole Whitt #||NASCAR Bashers Chevrolet||31.914||173.717||0.464||0.059|
|13||31||Justin Allgaier||Brandt Chevrolet||32.002||173.239||0.552||0.088|
|14||43||Michael Annett||Old Wisconsin / Pilot / Flying J Ford||32.073||172.856||0.623||0.071|
|15||11||Brian Scott||Dollar General Toyota||32.141||172.490||0.691||0.068|
|16||99||Travis Pastrana||Boost Mobile Toyota||32.229||172.019||0.779||0.088|
|17||7||Danica Patrick||GoDaddy.com Chevrolet||32.266||171.822||0.816||0.037|
|18||87||Joe Nemechek||AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota||32.316||171.556||0.866||0.050|
|19||50||David Starr(i)||Liberty Tire Recycling Chevrolet||32.484||170.669||1.034||0.168|
|20||81||Jason Bowles #||theRANDOMact.org Toyota||32.503||170.569||1.053||0.019|
|21||10||Jeff Green||TriStar Motorsports Toyota||32.507||170.548||1.057||0.004|
|22||00||Blake Koch||Ruch Motorsports Chevrolet||32.516||170.501||1.066||0.009|
|23||30||James Buescher(i)||Central Wire Chevrolet||32.527||170.443||1.077||0.011|
|24||08||Kyle Fowler||Commercial Disposal / Techniweld Ford||32.556||170.291||1.106||0.029|
|25||51||Jeremy Clements||Phoenix Group Metals / stjude.org Chevrolet||32.574||170.197||1.124||0.018|
|26||39||Matt Carter||RIMZ One / Go Green Racing Ford||32.591||170.108||1.141||0.017|
|27||01||Mike Wallace||G&K Services Chevrolet||32.654||169.780||1.204||0.063|
|28||40||Erik Darnell||Park 'N Fly Chevrolet||32.693||169.578||1.243||0.039|
|29||42||Josh Wise(i)||Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet||32.734||169.365||1.284||0.041|
|30||14||Eric McClure||Hefty / Reynolds Wrap Toyota||32.774||169.158||1.324||0.040|
|31||46||Chase Miller||TheMotorsportsGroup.com Chevrolet||32.818||168.932||1.368||0.044|
|32||71||Carl Long||RWR / Lilly Trucking Chevrolet||32.888||168.572||1.438||0.070|
|33||15||Timmy Hill||CarportEmpire.com Ford||32.896||168.531||1.446||0.008|
|34||47||JJ Yeley(i)||Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet||33.052||167.736||1.602||0.156|
|35||24||Benny Gordon||American Childhood Cancer Organization Toyota||33.068||167.655||1.618||0.016|
|36||4||Danny Efland||Tradebank Chevrolet||33.345||166.262||1.895||0.277|
|37||89||Morgan Shepherd||Hyland's Leg Cramps / Racing with Jesus Chevrolet||33.403||165.973||1.953||0.058|
|38||19||Tayler Malsam||G-Oil Toyota||33.537||165.310||2.087||0.134|
|39||74||Mike Harmon||Koma Unwind Relaxation Drink Chevrolet||33.551||165.241||2.101||0.014|
|40||70||Tony Raines(i)||Tidal Wave Response Chevrolet||33.816||163.946||2.366||0.207|
|41||23||Robert Richardson Jr.||North Texas Pipe Chevrolet||33.881||163.632||2.431||0.065|
|42||41||Fain Skinner||CarportEmpire.com Ford||33.885||163.612||2.435||0.004|
|43||52||Joey Gase||Metro Ministries Chevrolet||33.609||164.956||2.159||0.058|
*Required to qualify on time, OP - Top 30 in Owner Points, PC - Past Champion,(i)Ineligible for driver points in this series