Open Race Thread: NASCAR Nationwide Series NRA American Warrior 300 | Atlanta Motor Speedway

HAMPTON, GA - SEPTEMBER 01: Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge, walks through the garage area before the start of practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series NRA American Warrior 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on September 1, 2012 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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.

Starting Lineup
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
Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed Fastest Next
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

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.