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Preview of the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Posted by chadmusselman on March 8, 2008

After the 100 point penalty was assessed to Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch reclaimed the top spot in the driver standings, and Carl fell down to 7th place. Kyle’s finished 4th, 4th, and 11th in the first 3 races of the season; can he keep the good runs coming? His best finish in Atlanta over the past three seasons has been 12th. Will he avoid contact with other cars and wrecking, or will the speed of the track catch up to him? He qualified 6th, which should help him stay out of the slower traffic to begin with, but as the race progresses and he gets into traffic, he’ll have to stay patient. Normally I’d say that this is Kyle’s kind of track because you can go 3 wide easily, but I don’t have a good feeling about it this week. He’ll probably have a tough car, and running near the front, but I think his aggressive style may come back to bite him in Atlanta.

One early story this season is the defending champion, Jimmy Johnson. He finished 2nd in California, but 27th and 29th at Daytona and Las Vegas. What’s wrong with Jimmy? He looked awful in Vegas. Did the team lose their magic, or is it just a blip on the radar? If Jimmy is going to get grooving again, Atlanta is the track where he can do it. In the last four here he’s finished 1st, 1st, 2nd, and 6th. Not too shabby. He also qualified in the 11th starting spot for the race.

Four drivers with a real shot to win
· Tony Stewart – 1st, 2nd, 5th in 3 of last 4 at Atlanta. Starting back in 32nd, but if anyone can make their way to the front of the field fast, it’s Smoke.
· Matt Kenseth – 4th, 3rd, 4th in last 3 at Atlanta. Starting 38th this weekend, but no matter where he starts, he’ll probably have a good finish.
· Carl Edwards – 2nd, 7th, 7th in last 3 at Atlanta, qualified 4th, had to be angry about the 100 point deduction, and is out to prove that his win last week wasn’t because of cheating.
· Jeff Gordon – 7th, 6th, 4th in 3 of last 4 at Atlanta, and pole sitter for the race this weekend.

Two others that should do well:
· Reed Sorenson – 3rd, 9th, 10th in 3 of last 4 at Atlanta. Don’t be scared by his 25th place qualifying effort. He started 32nd when he finished 3rd here last year.
· Kasey Kahne – 1st & 9th in 2 of last 4 at Atlanta. Qualified 9th for this week’s race, so you know he has some speed in the car.

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