Open Race Thread: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Advocare 500 | Atlanta Motor Speedway

Tony Stewart's pole-winning car under the setting sun Friday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Stewart set fast-time with a speed of 186.121 mph. (Matt Weaver/SB Nation)

While anything can happen in tonight's Advocare 500, the reality is that the final Chase for the Championship wild card spot will come down to three drivers - Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman.

Two of the three have a great shot at winning with Gordon and Busch entering tonight's race, coming off a second and fourth place in Saturday's final practice session. Furthermore, Gordon is the defending race winner at Atlanta Motor Speedway with Kyle Busch proclaiming on several occasions that his car is ‘very good.'

But just as Newman proved at Martinsville Speedway in April, anything could happen and it might come at the one of his wild card competitors' expense.

The added wild card storylines aside, Atlanta Motor Speedway has always provided some of the most dramatic moments in Sprint Cup Series history. Who could forget the 1992 season finale where Alan Kulwicki won his only Series championship under the backdrop of Richard Petty's final race - not to mention the debut of some kid named ‘Jeff Gordon?'

Or Dale Earnhardt's nine victories, Kevin Harvick's emotional 2001 breakthrough just two weeks after Earnhardt's death at the Daytona 500, and just last year, Gordon and Jimmie Johnson's slide-by-slide battle to the finish.

The Advocare 500 is about the best of what NASCAR has to offer, and the best will be on display in tonight's race.

Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart is on the pole after setting a fast time of 29.787. Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, and Marcos Ambrose complete the starting top-10.

A complete starting lineup can be found after the jump.

Some talking points include:

Who's the favorite to win tonight's race?

Who will leave Atlanta (and Richmond) with the two wild card spots?

What's your favorite Atlanta Motor Speedway memory?

The race is 325 laps for 500 miles with flag-to-flag coverage provided by ESPN. Treat this post as both the general race preview and discussion thread. See you on the other side.

Starting Line Up by Row
Atlanta Motor Speedway
53rd Annual ADVOCARE 500
Provided by NASCAR Statistics - Fri, August 31, 2012 @ 07:35 PM Eastern
Track Race Record: Dale Earnhardt 11/12/95 03:03:03 163.633
Row Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed
1 1 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot / Mobil 1 Chevrolet 29.787 186.121
2 16 Greg Biffle 3M / Manheim Auctions Ford 29.863 185.648
2 3 18 Kyle Busch Wrigley / Doublemint Toyota 29.888 185.493
4 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Eco Boost Ford 29.916 185.319
3 5 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet 29.918 185.307
6 55 Mark Martin Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 29.930 185.232
4 7 11 Denny Hamlin Sport Clips Toyota 29.932 185.220
8 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's / Kobalt Tools Chevrolet 29.945 185.139
5 9 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota 29.954 185.084
10 9 Marcos Ambrose DeWalt Ford 29.959 185.053
6 11 5 Kasey Kahne Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet 29.968 184.997
12 99 Carl Edwards Subway Ford 29.979 184.929
7 13 43 Aric Almirola AdvoCare Ford 29.988 184.874
14 34 David Ragan Glory Foods Ford 30.010 184.738
8 15 22 Sam Hornish Jr.(i) Shell Pennzoil Dodge 30.031 184.609
16 51 Kurt Busch Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet 30.038 184.566
9 17 39 Ryan Newman ARMY Medicine Chevrolet 30.052 184.480
18 27 Paul Menard Quaker State / Menards Chevrolet 30.061 184.425
10 19 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford 30.117 184.082
20 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet 30.119 184.070
11 21 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge 30.121 184.058
22 36 Dave Blaney Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 30.172 183.747
12 23 10 Danica Patrick(i) GoDaddy.com Chevrolet 30.184 183.673
24 29 Kevin Harvick Rheem Chevrolet 30.189 183.643
13 25 47 Bobby Labonte Kingsford Toyota 30.211 183.509
26 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet 30.227 183.412
14 27 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row / Farm American Chevrolet 30.231 183.388
28 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Shocks Toyota 30.234 183.370
15 29 38 David Gilliland House - Autry Ford 30.235 183.364
30 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota 30.240 183.333
16 31 30 David Stremme Inception Motorsports Toyota 30.289 183.037
32 21 Trevor Bayne(i) Good Sam / Camping World Ford 30.314 182.886
17 33 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet 30.335 182.759
34 49 Jason Leffler(i) Robinson-Blakeney Racing Toyota 30.349 182.675
18 35 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard / Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet 30.357 182.627
36 95 Scott Speed Jordan Truck Sales Ford 30.370 182.549
19 37 87 Joe Nemechek(i) AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota 30.398 182.380
38 91 Reed Sorenson(i) Plinker Tactical Toyota 30.430 182.189
20 39 23 Scott Riggs North Texas Pipe Chevrolet 30.438 182.141
40 83 Landon Cassill Burger King Toyota Owner Points
21 41 93 Travis Kvapil Dr Pepper / Burger King Toyota Owner Points
42 32 TJ Bell(i) Greensmoke Ford Owner Points
22 43 37 JJ Yeley MaxQworkforce.com Chevrolet 30.450 182.069
Did Not Qualify: # 98 Michael McDowell; # 26 Josh Wise #; # 33 Stephen Leicht #; # 19 Mike Bliss(i).
Manufacturer Starting Lineup DNQs Manufacturer Starting Lineup DNQs
Chevrolet 17 1 Ford 11 2
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