News & Media


By the Numbers: A lot of significant firsts at Atlanta

August 31, 2012, , NASCAR.com

For Starters

1 -- Kyle Busch is making his first start of the season in the Camping World Truck Series. Busch, second all time with 30 Truck wins including a series-best 14 on 1.5-mile tracks, has the most victories (4) at Atlanta and a 2.4 average finish in seven races.

1 -- Danica Patrick is making her first Nationwide Series start at Atlanta; it is the last track on the schedule at which she has not competed. Patrick has five career top-10 finishes; three of them have come on 1.5-mile tracks. Her best finish in her first start at a track is 12th, at Kentucky in June.

197.478 -- The first Cup Series pole speed at Atlanta after it was repaved before the fall race in 1997 was 197.478 mph, set by Geoffrey Bodine, which was the fastest on any track other than Daytona and Talladega until both Michigan races this year. Last year's pole speed was 186.196 mph, which ranks 245th all time.

CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

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Breakout Number

3 -- Three of the top four drivers all time in average finish (more than five starts) are entered at Atlanta, including Kyle and Kurt Busch, who will compete in the same Truck Series race for the first time. Kyle has an average finish of 7.5 in 101 starts; Kurt, who is driving for Billy Ballew, with whom Kyle won his four Atlanta races, has a 7.9 average finish in 26 starts (four wins). Rookie and championship contender Ty Dillon has an 8.3 average finish through his first 16 races. Mark Martin has the best average finish in series history at 7.4 (25 starts).

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Track Tidbits

3 -- Three of the first four races at Atlanta ended in green-white-checkered finishes. There hasn't been another since.

17 -- The final lead change has taken place with 17 or fewer laps remaining in 11 of the 12 races at Atlanta, including three last-lap passes: Bobby Hamilton passed Mike Skinner in 2004; Kyle Busch passed Jack Sprague in October 2005; and Ryan Newman (in his first series start) passed Ron Hornaday in October 2008.

17 -- Starting position for Ron Hornaday in last year's race at Atlanta, the second-worst by a winner in track history. The worst also belongs to Hornaday, who started 18th in March 2005 and beat Bobby Labonte in a green-white-checkered finish by .008 seconds, the fifth-closest margin of victory in series history. Only four races at Atlanta have been won from outside the top 10, and seven have been won from a top-five starting position and five from the top three.

Recent Trends

3 -- James Buescher has won three of the five 1.5-mile races in 2012. Atlanta is the sixth of 10 1.5-mile races on the schedule. Buescher has finished 14th and 10th in two Atlanta starts.

5 -- Parker Kligerman has scored the most points in the past five races with 194, three more than points leader Timothy Peters. Kligerman is the only driver to score top-10 finishes in each of the those races. His average finish is 5.6. In the two races since his split from Brad Keselowski Racing, Kligerman has finished fourth and second in the No. 7 Toyota of Red Horse Racing. Kligerman has been in one race at Atlanta, starting fourth and finishing 12th last year for BKR.

24 -- In the seven races since Todd Bodine won at Dover, he hasn't finished better than 12th and his average finish is 24th; he has had five DNFS (four crashes) during that stretch. Bodine has finished 24th or worse twice in 11 Atlanta starts; he is tied with Kyle Busch for the most top-fives (6) and leads all drivers with eight top-10s, including the past five races. Bodine scored his first career pole at Atlanta in March 2006 and went on to win the race. He has gone on to win four of his seven poles.

NATIONWIDE SERIES

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Breakout Number

5 -- Atlanta is one of five active tracks at which Kyle Busch has failed to win: Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Montreal and Watkins Glen; only at Vegas (9) has he made more starts than the eight at Atlanta. He has five top-fives and has finished second four times, including the past three races. The four seconds ties the record held by Michael Waltrip at Daytona, Dale Jarrett at Martinsville and Larry Pearson at Martinsville for most runner-up finishes at a track without a win. Busch has led the most laps at Atlanta three times, all in the past five races; his 488 laps led are the second-most in track history. His crew chief, Mike Beam, won there last year with Carl Edwards.

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Track Tidbits

0 -- The driver leading the points has never won the race at Atlanta. However, Johnny Benson took over the points lead with his Atlanta win in 2005; he won the championship that season.

1 -- Only one of the past 16 series races at Atlanta has been won by a non-Cup competitor: Jamie McMurray in 2002. Only four of the 20 races at Atlanta have been won by NNS-only drivers: Jeff Gordon (1992), Ward Burton (1993), Johnny Benson (1995) and McMurray, who passed Joe Nemechek in the only last-lap pass at the track; he led only the final lap en route to his first series victory.

1 -- Jeff Gordon won the inaugural race at Atlanta in 1992, from the pole; it was his first career win in NASCAR. Gordon set the record for youngest pole and race winner (20 years, 7 months, 10 days) that still stands.

Recent Trends

5 -- Justin Allgaier is the only driver to finish in the top 10 in all five races on 1.5-mile tracks this season; he was passed for the final lead change in the past two races. Allgaier finished sixth at Atlanta last year, his first top-10 in three starts there.

11 -- Eleven of the past 12 races at Atlanta have been won from a top-10 starting position, including six from the first two rows. All but two of the last 28 races on 1.5-mile tracks have been won from the top 10.

29 -- Kevin Harvick enters Atlanta with his career-longest series winless streak (29 races). Since his last victory at Richmond in September 2010, he has led the most laps seven times, including four times in 2012. Since Harvick's last of 37 wins, 19 different drivers have won at least once, including three drivers who won at least 10 times. Twelve of Harvick's wins have come on 1.5-mile tracks, including one at Atlanta in September 2009.

SPRINT CUP SERIES

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Breakout Number

2 -- Carl Edwards, who became the first driver to score his first wins in both the Cup and Nationwide series on the same weekend, at Atlanta in March 2005, has been the driver passed for the lead in two of the past five races at Atlanta, including a green-white-checkered finish in March 2009 in which he led at the scheduled distance. Edwards' Cup win in 2005 came on a last-lap pass of Jimmie Johnson; the most recent of his three Atlanta victories, in October 2008, made him the first driver to sweep a weekend at two different tracks (he won the day before in the NNS at Memphis).

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Track Tidbits

15 -- In his 15 starts at Atlanta, Kasey Kahne has finished in the top 10 eight times, including two wins and six top-fives, but he has finished 28th or worse in the other seven races, including 32nd and 34th (engine DNF after winning the pole) in the past two. Kahne is the most recent driver to win at Atlanta from the pole, in March 2006.

35 -- The 35 lead changes in last year's race were the most in the past 23 races at Atlanta, since 38 in November 1999. The 14 different leaders were the most in the past 22 races, since 17 in March 2000.

64 -- The 64 caution laps in last year's race (covering nine cautions) were the most in the past 25 races at Atlanta, since 68 in November 1998. The average speed of last year's race was 124.623 mph, the slowest in the past 25 races (114.915 mph in November 1998). Both of those races were won by Jeff Gordon.

Recent Trends

8 -- Eight of the past nine Atlanta winners have started in the first three rows, although the pole winner has won just once in the 28 races since the track was reconfigured in between races in 1997. However, the pole winner has finished worse than 25th in four of the past five races, including the past two for engine DNFs.

19.9 -- Kevin Harvick's average finish of 19.9 at Atlanta is his worst of all active tracks, but he has finished in the top 10 in five of the past seven races there. Harvick won at Atlanta in his first start there, in March 2001 (just his third career start) and finished third in the second race there that year, then didn't finish better than 19th in the next 11 races at the track.

71 -- Last year's final green-flag stretch of 71 laps was the longest in the past 14 races. Eight of the previous nine were less than 20 laps.

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