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Snapshot: Atlanta

August 31, 2014, Zack Albert,

Catch up quickly before Sunday's Oral-B USA 500 (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

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 55th annual Oral-B USA 500.

Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1.54-mile oval in Hampton, Georgia.
 Sunday, Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m. ET.
 ESPN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
325 laps; 500.5 miles.

Pit road speed: 45 mph.
Caution car speed:
55 mph.
Fuel window:
50-55 laps.


Latest news

On the front row
1. Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (190.398 mph).
2. Brad Keselowski, Team Penske No. 2 Ford (190.058 mph).

Fastest in practice
First practice:
Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing No. 99 Ford (192.855 mph).
Second practice:
Joey Logano, Team Penske No. 22 Ford (189.351 mph).
Final practice:
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota (188.251 mph).

Driver rating
Best driver rating average at Atlanta based on past 15 races:

Jeff Gordon, 105.6; Jimmie Johnson, 104.8; Tony Stewart, 100.2; Carl Edwards, 100.0.

Last year's winner
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota.

They said it I: "A lot of guys have gone in and out making adjustments. We still have a lot of gains to make on our car, and it's already pretty good. I love racing here and expect to do well. We'll hammer down on it (Saturday)." -- Dale Earnhardt Jr., on trying to get his No. 88 Chevrolet in race mode for Sunday.

They said it II: "Fontana's pretty worn out, but this place is on a whole other level of worn-out. It's pretty crazy, but kind of frustrating, too, because you slow down so much every lap." -- Kyle Larson, who finished a career-best second at similarly well-worn Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, earlier this season.

They said it III: "Once the tires start to wear out, the better car will prevail eventually. It might take a little bit of time, but eventually it will be the best. That's why everyone is trying to make their car good on the long run." -- Joey Logano, last week's winner at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Chase picture: A quartet of drivers without regular-season wins have a tenuous grip on the last four provisional berths in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason -- Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle. While their position in the standings has them tentatively in the playoff mix, a victory in Sunday's 500-miler or next Saturday's regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway would take the guesswork out of the equation. Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon and Paul Menard currently rank as the first four out.

Making the list: Jeff Gordon leads active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers with five victories at Atlanta. His tally is still shy of Dale Earnhardt's nine Atlanta wins, the most on the all-time list.

History lesson: NASCAR Hall of Famer Fireball Roberts won the first race in NASCAR's premier series at what was then called Atlanta International Raceway on July 31, 1960. The track has seen several changes over the years, starting life as a 1.5-mile oval and reconfiguring midseason in 1997 to a 1.54-mile track, flipping the start/finish line to the north straightaway and adding a dogleg.

Former Atlanta winners in the field: Jeff Gordon (5); Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart (3); Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne (2), Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick (1).


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