Atlanta Motor Speedway schedule, news, media, tickets, and information for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track only on the official site of NASCAR.
Atlanta Motor Speedway schedule, news, media, tickets, and information for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track only on the official site of NASCAR.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Holly Cain tells her story The reality of my diagnosis as a cancer patient set in this summer during a rain delay at the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway . While race teams and fellow reporters scrambled to change travel plans and make dinner arrangements, I took a deep breath, looked around the emptying media center and remember distinctly feeling very alone with my secret. Just before shutting down my computer to return to the hotel, I Googled "How to tell your children you have cancer." That was the moment when it all hit me. I am one of those people that never catches a cold. And all of a sudden, after feeling a sizable lump in my breast three weeks earlier, I was caught up in a surreal whirlwind of mammograms and ultra sounds and biopsies and jaw-dropping bad news with every test and doctor visit. In the midst of it all -- a week before the Daytona race -- I had asked my doctor to delay giving me some results by one day because I was scheduled to travel to the White House to cover NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson 's meeting with President Obama. The doctor gave me a huge grin and conceded that was the best excuse he'd ever heard to postpone an appointment. On Wednesday, July 2, the day before I left to cover the Daytona race, I received the full diagnosis. I had advanced stage breast cancer and faced an aggressive -- honestly, frightening -- treatment plan. But the scope, gravity and magnitude didn't immediately set in. I didn't even cry. I didn't know what had hit me. The understanding flooded in during that computer search in the Daytona media center, on what seemed an appropriately rainy summer afternoon. As everyone else was packing up their computers, their minds grappled with where they would eat dinner or if they could change a flight to accommodate the race postponement. Mine was on my family. For me, the very thought of sharing my news with my precious 11-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son in the coming days was so gut-wrenching it made me physically ill. I felt so utterly guilty -- and still do -- of my diagnosis robbing them of their innocence and of the carefree days of childhood they deserved -- a time when they shouldn't have to worry about their mom being sick. Or worse. I was supposed to worry about them, not the other way around. Before her diagnosis, Holly Cain ran in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure with her daughter, Sydney, in honor of former Atlanta Motor Speedway Marketing & Promotion Director Marcy Scott. Sydney finished third overall in the 5K, then scored three goals in a soccer game later that afternoon. As online resources and my doctors advised, I very calmly explained in simple, but appropriate and truthful terms, that doctors had found a tumor and that I would need a couple of operations. I explained that I would need special intense treatment called chemotherapy and that it would make me tired, extremely sick to my stomach and after a few weeks I would lose all my hair. But, I promised and reassured -- enough to convince myself -- that, even as I wasn't feeling well physically in the next few months, I would still be their "mom" and that my spirit would stay strong. I swore I would get better. The apprehension and anxiety showed on the kids' faces, but they asked good, thoughtful questions. I could tell their minds were racing trying to make sense of it all. And somehow, instead of this moment completely breaking my heart, my children reinforced my heart. My son, always practical, wanted to know if I would lose my eyelashes and eyebrows because, he said, they served as a natural protection against raindrops. My daughter wanted to know if I would still be able to run in our local Susan G. Komen 5K. She and I had run the race together for years in honor and memory of dear friends suffering from breast cancer. As it turns out, my friend and colleague at NASCAR.com, Kate Davis, organized "Holly's Hotties," a team of co-workers and friends (including some dear people I've yet to even meet) to run the Komen Race for the Cure earlier this month in Charlotte, North Carolina. Kate raised more than $3,000 for the cause thanks to the heartfelt generosity of so many at NASCAR.com and friends in the NASCAR community. I still have two more rounds of chemotherapy remaining and I'm glad to report that my eyebrows and eyelashes are still mostly intact. And while they do keep the raindrops from falling in, they don't work as well keeping the tears from dropping out. But the tears now aren't just due to fear and pain. They flow because every single day I am reminded how blessed I am. I genuinely feel that way. Whenever doubt and anxiety creep up, I try to instead think of what I have to be grateful for and glancing at my "thank you" to-do list is overwhelming. I simply cannot keep up with the notes owed to so many. Amazingly, I have yet to meet someone not affected by breast cancer on some level -- a friend, a relative, a co-worker. It sounds cliché, but I find myself stopping to take in the beauty in each day. I don't sweat the small stuff. And as fellow cancer patient and fellow journalist Steve Byrnes of FOX Sports has reminded us all, you have to live in the present. Byrnes -- one of the first to call me and offer support -- along with fellow cancer patients, such as former driver Shawna Robinson and Sherry Pollex (longtime girlfriend of Martin Truex Jr .), surely know what it is like to be surrounded by a NASCAR community that doesn't just care deeply, but gives generously and is committed to making a difference. Clint Bowyer's sponsor 5-hour Energy, which allowed him to put my name on his No. 15 Toyota this month at Kansas, is donating at least $200,000 to Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Danica Patrick 's sponsor, GoDaddy, also placed names (including mine) on her car last week at Martinsville, Virginia, and handed the National Breast Cancer Foundation a check for $50,000. So many others have participated in the month-long push for breast cancer awareness. Elliott Sadler , Greg Biffle , Kyle Busch , Regan Smith and Trevor Bayne are among those who have driven pink cars. Dale Earnhardt Jr . has used pink driving gloves. Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano have helped paint track walls and curbs pink. And as Breast Cancer Awareness month wraps up this week, I wanted to share my own very personal story of diagnosis, treatment, hope and, most of all, gratitude. Gratitude for a network of friends that have been bringing my family dinners, sending me cards and flowers, lovingly crafting chemotherapy "care baskets," handling soccer practice carpools. And gratitude for an extended NASCAR family that has rallied around me in huge and humbling ways, from text messages, Twitter well-wishes and long phone calls of support. I am forever indebted for the smiles on my children's faces as I officially became the "coolest mom in the world" with my name on race cars representing the thousands others fighting to survive this pervasive disease. Fortunately, there is another condition even more widespread -- the spirit of kindness and generosity. Pass it on. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
See where each driver finished the Contender Round finale and why RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Editor's note: Drivers in italics are in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup 1. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske An adventurous day after a conflict-filled post-race the previous weekend at Charlotte seemed to be the recipe for potential heartbreak for Keselowski. But the 2012 champ defied odds and worked the draft to his advantage at Talladega Superspeedway to secure his sixth victory of the year and avoid elimination in the Contender Round finale in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. He did it with a damaged Team Penske No. 2 Ford, crumpled in the right-side door in the race's first wreck, and with aerodynamic savvy in changing lanes wildly on the way to the checkered flag. 2. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing The JGR driver who went after Keselowski in the post-race scrum at Charlotte found himself following his rival across the finish line in the final shuffle of the second attempt at a green-white-checkered conclusion. The runner-up effort, combined with lackluster results from his foes, was more than enough to push him to the Eliminator Round by a nine-point margin over the cut-off line. Proving that starting position means little, Kenseth and Keselowski had both dropped to the rear of the field during pre-race pace laps because of unapproved adjustments to their cars. Kenseth had the most dramatic closing kick, driving from 30th to second place with 19 laps to go. Get more driver data with RaceView. 3. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing Bowyer, a two-time winner of Talladega's fall race, was the highest finisher who didn't lead a lap. That he notched a top-five performance was remarkable in that he caught part of a 10-car wreck on Lap 103 that destroyed the hopes of several drivers. The result also gave Bowyer a clean sweep of third-place finishes in both Talladega races this season. 4. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Racing Under the heading of doing a lot with a little, chalk up a career-best finish for Cassill and the scrappy No. 40 team. The Iowa native popped up to lead the 109th lap in the 194-lap race, powering around the outside of rookie Ryan Blaney at the start-finish line. By the time the event went into overtime, Cassill was in prime position, just .203 seconds behind Keselowski at the finish. View the pass for the lead here . 5. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing Despite losing the draft early on when he stalled leaving his pit stall during the first exchange of stops, Newman rallied back from that gaffe and a midrace flat tire to challenge Keselowski for the victory in the final two-lap sprint to the finish. Though it was his first top-five in a span of 13 races, it was his fourth consecutive top-eight finish and that consistency over the last three races made him the highest points-earner without a win in the Contender Round. His car, however, failed post-race inspection for being too low in the rear and both sides, which could result in a penalty come Tuesday. 6. Travis Kvapil , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport Racing The former Camping World Truck Series champion showed some speed earlier in the weekend, clocking the fastest lap in the second knockout segment of Saturday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying. The largely trouble-free trend continued into Sunday's main event, where Kvapil made the most green-flag passes (669) and matched his career-best finish in the Sprint Cup Series, equaling the sixth-place run he had at Talladega in the spring of 2008. Get more driver data with RaceView . 7. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing The Outlaw spent quite a bit of time in the midst of the action Sunday at Talladega, missing out on sixth place by the narrowest of electronic margins -- one one-thousandth of a second behind Travis Kvapil . But electronic scoring did reflect a positive as well: the fastest lap of the race (202.006 on Lap 42). Overall, Sunday marked some improvement from Busch and the No. 41 team -- it was their first top-10 since the Chase opener in Chicagoland. 8. Marcos Ambrose , No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports The Aussie's final restrictor-plate race as a Sprint Cup regular ended with the second-best Talladega finish of his career. He landed his only top-five at the 2.66-mile Alabama track in his 'Dega debut -- claiming fourth in the spring of 2009 with the JTG-Daugherty Racing team. Sunday's result also was his first top-10 effort since finishing second at Watkins Glen in August. 9. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing Harvick didn't have to finish well at Talladega, based on the merits of his free pass into the Eliminator Round after a victory the previous weekend at Charlotte, but did anyway despite a pair of pitfalls. Early on, he battled on despite a windshield coated with fluid, forcing him to radio his crew: "I think I'm going to have to go to the back, guys. Can't see." He also recovered from a spin on pit road during the final exchange of stops to finish near the front of the pack. Get more driver audio with RaceView . 10. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing Restrictor-plate tracks remained the Mears Gang's strong suit this season as the No. 13 came home with its third top-10 of the year -- all at either Talladega or Daytona. Sunday also helped Mears regain the one spot he lost in the standings after a 31st-place result last weekend at Charlotte; he's now back to 25th. Follow live standings in-race here . 11. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske Since Logano had immunity from Contender Round elimination after winning two weeks ago at Kansas, his primary purpose was to give Penske teammate Brad Keselowski aerodynamic assistance on Talladega's high banks. Logano's objective seemed to hit a snag with a wild slide through the grass during the first caution period, but he rallied to stay in contention. Though the No. 22 team radio crackled in the late stages to say "easier said than done" regarding offering help to Keselowski, the team car prevailed anyway to secure an 11th-hour slot in the Chase's next round. Get more driver audio with RaceView . 12. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports Kahne's hopes of remaining alive in the Chase fizzled near the end, when his No. 5 Chevy was bogged down in a slow line of cars in the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. Though he stormed back to the fringes of the top 10 in a frantic late push, he fell three points shy of advancing. "It was tough if you weren't in the top few spots," Kahne said. "Once we were up there early on, we could race." 13. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing The RCR rookie had largely kept his nose clean in the first half of the 516-miler, but once trouble emerged in front of him in the 103rd lap, he was unable to whoa up his No. 3 Chevy, slamming into the back of Kyle Busch 's No. 18. Though Busch's day was doomed, quick patchwork from the Childress bunch revived Dillon's car to competitive speed and a finish in the main fray. 14. Reed Sorenson , No. 36 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing If not for a favorable post-race inspection that threw out Joe Nemechek 's qualifying time and reinstated the No. 36 to the starting lineup, Sorenson would have been a spectator for Sunday's main event. The Georgia native made the most of the qualifying reprieve, posting his best finish since also coming home in 14th place at the Peachtree City native's home track, Atlanta Motor Speedway , in September 2010. 15. Cole Whitt , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing It was a day of firsts for the 23-year-old Californian, who kept clear of the Talladega turmoil to record his best finish in 46 career starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. That wasn't the only Sunday milestone -- Whitt also headed the 133rd lap during the race's third yellow flag, marking his first lap led in NASCAR's top division. 16. Michael Waltrip , No. 66 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing The veteran owner/driver wasn't able to convert a Talladega two-step into a challenge for victory, but Sunday's run was the best finish out of the four races on his part-time 2014 schedule. Waltrip will return to his other jobs -- calling races as a Camping World Truck Series analyst for FOX Sports 1 and unleashing fancy footwork on a different TV audience on "Dancing With The Stars." 17. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing The charmed run of finishing sixth or better in five straight races ended Sunday for the talented Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate. A spinout on the apron while getting his No. 42 Chevy back up to speed after a Lap 175 pit stop hindered Larson's chances of continuing the streak, but he remained 17th in the Sprint Cup standings -- the highest-ranking driver outside the Chase-eligible field. 18. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing Fate smiled on Hamlin in his most recent trip to Talladega with a regular-season win that paved his way into the Chase. Sunday, the smile wasn't so much of a smirk after a finish in the bottom half of the 32-car pack on the lead lap. Hamlin, though, did just enough, leading one lap and finishing with a 10-point cushion over Kasey Kahne , the first driver bounced from Eliminator Round advancement. The potential for better things looms for the No. 11 driver next weekend at Martinsville Speedway , where he's won four times in his Sprint Cup career. 19. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing Helped by a push from Martin Truex Jr ., Patrick mounted a charge to the front on Lap 167, snatching the lead from Jimmie Johnson and bringing the Talladega faithful to their feet in the grandstands. Patrick showed the way for seven laps until a shuffle of pit stops and late-race restarts left her rooting and gouging for all the spots she could grab. Though the result wasn't what she wanted, she seemed thankful to be bringing the No. 10 car home in one piece, telling her crew on the cool-down lap: "Oh my gosh, I can't believe we didn't crash." Get more driver audio with RaceView . 20. Brian Vickers , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing Sunday's race got off to a promising start for the No. 55 group, even on race-day eve with Coors Light Pole Qualifying. Vickers claimed his first pole since 2009, but he didn't lead after the drop of the green. Worse, he was snared in the race's biggest wreck -- the 10-car pileup in the 103rd lap that made his lead-lap finish all the more improbable. 21. Carl Edwards , No. 99 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing Edwards, Roush Fenway's last hope in the championship hunt, entered Sunday's Contender Round finale fifth in points and needing to avoid all the elimination-race mayhem. Though he came perilously close to the race's last multicar wreck, he steered clear to advance in the Chase by a scant nine points. "I just don't know how you plan this race out," Edwards said of Talladega's unpredictable nature. "We tried to outsmart everybody, and it almost caught us, so it's really down to pure chance. I'm just glad it worked out for us." 22. Ryan Blaney , No. 12 Ford, Team Penske The 20-year-old driver made waves in just his second Sprint Cup start, roaring to the point on Lap 2 and setting the pace twice for a total of 15 laps -- the first laps led in his career in NASCAR's top series. Blaney kept the No. 12, a part-time entry for Team Penske, out of trouble all day, improving on the 27th-place finish from his Cup debut back in May at Kansas Speedway . 23. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing The 'Dinger let loose with some grumbling over the restrictor-plate style of racing at Talladega, vocal salvos that only got louder after his involvement in the largest wreck of the race -- the 10-car stack-up on the backstretch during Lap 103. The result matched his worst finish in the six Chase races, equaling the 23rd place at Dover International Speedway , where his playoff hopes were snuffed in the opening Challenger Round finale. Get more driver audio with RaceView . 24. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports The six-time Sprint Cup champion did everything possible to keep his Chase hopes alive -- except win. Johnson asserted himself early and often, leading nine times for a race-high 84 laps. Despite being a fixture at the front, his split-second tactical decisions and lack of drafting help in the late stages left him out of the hunt for the checkers. His finishes of 40th, 17th and 24th in the three Contender Round events placed him 11th out of 12 drivers, dashing hopes for a record-tying seventh Sprint Cup crown. 25. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing The Biff's title chances ended three races ago in the Challenger Round finale at Dover, but he hasn't stopped trying to make strides. Sunday, he led the 46th lap but helped to trigger the final Talladega caution when he made contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr . at the end of the backstretch, snarling Junior and three other drivers in the mishap. 26. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports The four-time champ entered Sunday's Talladega race with a fairly safe spot after claiming a 14th-place and a runner-up finish in his first two Contender Round finishes, but by starting last for only the second time in his 757-race career, the perch became far more precarious. In the end, Gordon kept his drive for a fifth title intact by just three points over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne . "Today was not our shining moment," Gordon said. "But our performance the last two races are what really got us in, and I'm very proud of that." 27. Martin Truex Jr. , No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing Truex posted an achievement that reflected just how difficult 2014 has been -- his first lap led all season. With plenty of time spent among the front-runners Sunday, hopes were riding high for a competitive finish, but he was boxed in shortly after the final restart, taking damage to the left-rear quarter panel of his No. 78 in the jumble. "I don't know what to say except this is Talladega and you can go from hero to zero very quickly at this place," Truex said. "We had a good car and deserved much better." 28. Josh Wise , No. 98 Chevrolet, Phil Parsons Racing The No. 98 team welcomed back the popular Dogecoin paint scheme back for another restrictor-place event and the reunion was met with modest success. Wise crossed under the checkered flag at the tail end of the large lead pack, registering only his third lead-lap finish of the year to go with his results at Talladega and Darlington in the spring. 29. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports Gilliland, the runner-up to his teammate at Talladega in spring 2013, had no such luck this go-around as he was swept up into the final crash of the day on the first try at a green-white-checkered finish. He managed to limp around to a lead-lap result and his best finish in the last four races. 30. David Ragan , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports Front Row's other David didn't have the Goliath-slaying ability this time around at Talladega, either. Though he cropped up into the lead on Lap 174, Ragan came across the line barely in touch with the lead pack. Unfortunately for him, the finish fit in with his average result for the four restrictor-plate races this season -- 30.25. 31. Dale Earnhardt Jr. , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports Though Dale Jr. led the second-most laps (31) Sunday afternoon to stoke the high hopes of his nation, he was unable to dig out of the deficit of subpar finishes in the opening two Contender Round races. By the time the race's final crash pulled him in, Earnhardt's fate was as good as sealed even though he managed to finish on the lead lap. "I know we're all disappointed," Earnhardt said over his team radio after the checkered flag, "but that's how it works." Get more driver audio with RaceView . 32. Trevor Bayne , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing Bayne's hopes for a top-10 or better in the late stages appeared promising as he ran second with nine laps remaining. But with a top-10 effort in sight, Bayne's No. 21 was bumped out of the groove to the apron on the final restart, squelching his momentum and leaving him to languish as the final lead-lap finisher. "I hate what happened on the last restart but we'll move forward," Bayne said. The next race on the Wood Brothers' part-time schedule is next month at Texas Motor Speedway . 33. Terry Labonte , No. 32 Ford, Go FAS Racing The Iceman's final start of his 890-race career that yielded two championships ended with a thud, one lap down at Talladega but with plenty of memories. Labonte started ninth -- his best qualifying effort of the four attempts he's made this season -- but dropped to the rear of the field in pace laps because of unapproved adjustments by the Frank Stoddard-owned team. He was unable to avoid the 10-car shunt on Lap 103, but continued on to the finish with repairs. 34. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing Smoke was among the hardest hit in the 10-car dust-up on the backstretch, but he persevered despite what he initially thought was a tire rub after repairs. From there, Stewart simply tried to log laps at reduced speed, a move that helped him gain a handful of spots after a late five-car crash knocked out other drivers and sent the race into overtime. Get more driver audio with RaceView . 35. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing The earliest dose of bad luck visited the No. 1 team and defending race winner McMurray. Before the race was even 25 laps old, drivers behind Jamie Mac complained that his Chevy was leaking oil, shrouding their windshields in a haze of fluids. McMurray rallied to lead three laps (47-49) then caught the worst of the race's first caution period just 10 laps later, with contact knocking off the No. 1's rear bumper and forcing wholesale repair work. 36. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing The stoic Wisconsinite kept his fluorescent car near the head of the class most of the day, but he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the final yellow flag flew. Damage from the five-car confrontation on Lap 187 forced him out as one of the race's six early exits. Menard's two DNFs in each of the last two weekends have caused him to lose a spot in the Sprint Cup standings each week; he's now 22nd behind Brian Vickers . Watch video of the green-white-checkered wreck here . 37. Michael Annett , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate recorded a career-best Sprint Cup starting position -- 10th -- but couldn't match the prowess at the end. His heavy damage in the final multicar wreck relegated Annett to his second DNF in the last four races. 38. Mike Wallace , No. 49 Toyota, Jay Robinson Racing Wallace's fourth Sprint Cup start of the season -- and 194th of his career -- brought a new car number than the Jay Robinson-owned team's usual No. 66. The results, however, didn't significantly change as Wallace wound up eight laps off the leader's pace by the end of a 194-lap Talladega day. 39. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports Restrictor-plate tracks for the famed No. 43 car have been a mixed lot of results. Almirola's most recent run at Daytona yielded the first victory of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, but the other two -- a crash-related 39th in the Daytona 500 and 13th in Talladega's spring race -- left a sour taste. Almirola's contact with JJ Yeley on the backstretch ignited Sunday's largest wreck; though he returned to the track after his car underwent extensive repairs, the 30-year-old Floridian was 28 laps down at the finish. 40. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing The championship contender with the biggest free-fall to the "out" stack in the Contender Round finale was Busch, who slid seven places -- eight, if you count Keselowski's climb past him based on his Sunday win, not points -- in the Chase standings. Busch's No. 18 appeared to have slowed enough to sidestep major contact until Austin Dillon 's No. 3 piled into the maelstrom. "We're done," were among the first words Busch said over the team radio before driving back to the garage. The extraordinary repair job by the JGR crew ultimately went for naught as Busch wound up 49 laps down and eliminated from this year's title pursuit. Read more about Busch's day here . 41. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing The best start of McDowell's 163-race Sprint Cup career didn't make nearly as much hay in the finish column. His part-time No. 95 entry was crumpled in the first crash of the day, but soldiered on. After a scrape with the Turn 4 w
Three-time Sprint Cup champion has missed past three races MORE: NASCAR statement on Tony Stewart's return RELATED: Full coverage of Tony Stewart incident Tony Stewart will return this weekend in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and make his first Sprint Cup start since Pocono Raceway on Aug. 3. Stewart will speak to the media at 1 p.m. ET at the infield media center at Atlanta Motor Speedway . He will be joined by Stewart-Haas Racing Executive Vice President Brett Frood. That availability will be streamed live on NASCAR.com . In a statement, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said: "Tony Stewart has received all necessary clearances required to return to all racing activities, and therefore is eligible to compete this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway . NASCAR has remained in constant contact with his race team, and we will stay very close to this situation as Stewart returns to competition." NASCAR President Mike Helton will participate in a media availability in the Atlanta Motor Speedway media center on Friday at 2 p.m. ET. NASCAR will have no further comment until that time. That availability will be streamed live on NASCAR.com . Stewart was involved in a sprint car racing incident earlier this month that resulted in driver Kevin Ward Jr. suffering fatal injuries at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, a half-mile dirt track on the Ontario County Fairgrounds. The investigation regarding the incident is ongoing. Stewart's racing plans outside NASCAR have been canceled and will not resume until further notice. Stewart has not raced in the past three Sprint Cup events. Jeff Burton filled in at Bristol and at Michigan, guiding the No. 14 team to finishes of 15th and 37th at each track, respectively. At Watkins Glen, NASCAR Nationwide Series regular Regan Smith piloted the No. 14 Chevrolet to a 37th-place finish. Stewart was on the initial entry list for Atlanta that was released Monday. Stewart-Haas Racing officials said at Michigan on Aug. 15 that there was no timetable for Stewart's return to NASCAR racing and that the decision would be the driver's call to make. After sitting out the past three races, Stewart is 26th in points. To be eligible for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, a driver must attempt to qualify for all 26 races leading up to the Chase and be in the top 30 in points. However, according to NASCAR, for rare instances the requirement can be waived as long as the driver is in the top 30. It is not known if Stewart would receive a waiver. Stewart currently has 537 points while 30th-place David Gilliland has 376. Stewart is returning to a track where he has fared well in his career. In 26 starts, he has three wins, 10 top-five finishes, 15 top-10 finishes and a pole. In the past nine years, he also has the third-highest driver rating at the track (100.2). The Oral-B USA 500 is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 31, at 7:30 p.m. ET, with coverage on ESPN. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Catch up quickly before Sunday's Oral-B USA 500 (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today What: 55th annual Oral-B USA 500. Where: Atlanta Motor Speedway , 1.54-mile oval in Hampton, Georgia . When: Sunday, Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m. ET. TV/Radio: ESPN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Distance: 325 laps; 500.5 miles. Pit road speed: 45 mph. Caution car speed: 55 mph. Fuel window: 50-55 laps. 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). MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kahne earns first victory -- and Chase berth -- with thrilling finish RELATED: Complete results " Updated standings " Current Chase Grid HAMPTON, Ga. -- It was Tony Stewart's return to racing that dominated the headlines before Sunday night's Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway , but it was Kasey Kahne who stole the show -- and a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . In a race that went 10 laps beyond its scheduled distance of 325 laps, Kahne surged past Matt Kenseth on the second attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish to win for the first time this year and the third time at the 1.54-mile speedway . Kenseth finished second and clinched a Chase spot on points, leaving just two of 16 positions in NASCAR's 10-race playoff available in Saturday's regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway . After streaking into the lead on a restart with 24 laps left, Kahne held the top spot until a caution for a fracas between Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. slowed the field with less than two laps left. On the first attempt at overtime, a multicar wreck in Turn 1 wiped out the dominant car of polesitter Kevin Harvick, requiring a second attempt at a two-lap shootout. With four fresh tires to Kenseth's two, Kahne overtook the No. 20 Toyota after he and Kenseth battled for a lap after the restart and pulled away to win the 17th race of his career by .574 seconds. "We were all over the place during the race, but the guys stayed with me and worked hard," Kahne said. "On those restarts -- I didn't know what would happen, because I had great restarts all night, and I struggle with restarts a lot. "That's big, because that is one of the things you have to be good at, and it worked really well tonight." It also took a huge weight off Kahne's shoulders, as the end of the regular season approached. "Yeah, we are locked in, and I hate that it comes down to this Atlanta or Richmond just about every year for me," Kahne said of the pressure to make the Chase. "Sometimes we are in, sometimes we are out. But thankful that now at HMS ( Hendrick Motorsports ), I've been in all three years now. We have the pressure all the way to Richmond, but we made it again--thankful for that." Denny Hamlin ran third, followed by Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards . Danica Patrick finished sixth, beating by four positions the best previous finish by a female driver at Atlanta (Janet Guthrie was 10th in 1978). The race that turned the season around for Kahne provided little solace for Stewart. Starting a Cup race for the first time since his involvement in the fatal sprint car accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Speedway , Stewart charged forward from his 12th-place starting position and ran as high as fourth in the early going. But Stewart's race came undone moments after a restart on Lap 123, when Kyle Busch's Toyota pinched Stewart's Chevy into the outside wall off Turn 2, significantly damaging both cars. On Lap 160 Matt Kenseth, then the leader, passed Stewart to put the No. 14 a lap down. Twelve laps later, a blown right front tire sent Stewart hard into the Turn 2 wall, forcing him to the garage and out of the race. Credited with a 41st-place finish, Stewart has one more chance—on Saturday at Richmond—to take advantage of a NASCAR dispensation that kept him eligible for the Chase. Having missed three races, Stewart must win at the .75-mile short track to qualify for NASCAR's 10-race playoff. After exiting his car, Stewart declined requests for interviews, but crew chief Chad Johnston spoke to reporters in the garage. "I went into today with some pretty high hopes of finishing well and possibly coming out of here with a win, but it just didn't work out in our favor," Johnston said. "We got into a little trouble with the 18 (Busch) and got into the outside wall, knocked the toe out of it, and a lot of heavy right side damage. "We were just trying to fix that and salvage what we could out of the day but then we blew a right front there right before that caution came out." If Stewart had issues on the track, so did one prominent driver on the Chase bubble. The shifter on Clint Bowyer' s No. 15 Toyota broke, preventing him from getting the car into high gear. Bowyer lost 22 laps in the garage as his team made repairs. He finished 38th, leaving his chances to make the Chase on points in dire jeopardy. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
JR Motorsports shows strength in all three cars RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings HAMPTON, Ga. -- No wonder they call Kevin Harvick the "Closer." From the moment Harvick's No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet took the lead from polesitter Chase Elliott on Lap 37, Saturday night's Great Clips 300 to benefit Feed The Children at Atlanta Motor Speedway was an open-and-shut case. In posting his third NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season and the 43rd of his career, Harvick led the last 159 laps and finished 0.567 seconds ahead of runner-up Joey Logano . "This thing was bad fast from the drop of the green flag," Harvick said after finishing off a spectacular victory burnout and exiting the car. "This is just one of those race tracks where I like the challenge of everything you get to do here." The only factors preventing Harvick from lapping the field -- or so it seemed -- were a pair of debris cautions, the first of which erased a four-second lead after Harvick had paced the field from Laps 37 through 72. The second caution flag, which flew on Lap 120, wiped out a Harvick advantage that was close to seven seconds. A light rain extended that second caution to 13 laps, but after a restart on Lap 134, it was more of the same. Harvick quickly pulled out to a lead of more than four seconds before a cycle of green-flag pit stops trimmed his advantage to two seconds over Logano, the only driver able to keep pace with Harvick throughout the closing laps. Kyle Larson ran third, followed by Kyle Busch and Elliott, who extended his series lead to 15 points over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith , who finished sixth. Logano's car came to life in the closing laps but not soon enough for him to catch Harvick. "I took off that last run and started to catch Kevin a little bit and then started to get too tight," Logano said. "He started driving away a little bit, and then the last six or seven laps, all of a sudden the light switch turned on and I started catching him. "I just ran out of time. I wish there were five or seven more laps, and I could have got to him and tried to do something with him. We were catching him two or three tenths (of a second) a lap there at the end and having some fun with it, but it was too little, too late." In Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series time trials, Harvick won the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday's Oral-B USA 500 at the 1.54-mile speedway . Though there are vast differences in the behavior of NNS versus Cup cars, Harvick's ability to run the bottom at Atlanta might be an indication of good things to come on Sunday. "I'm really happy with our car," Harvick said. "It's been good in every practice and obviously qualified well. You just have to have it all go your way. These races are hard to win, so we'll just enjoy this one tonight and go from there." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceVie FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See where your favorite driver will pit in Saturday's race (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live After winning his first NASCAR Nationwide Series 21 Means 21 Pole Award on Saturday, Chase Elliott and his No. 9 team selected pit stall No. 2 -- the closest one to the pit-road exit -- in advance of Saturday night's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Elliott will have an open stall in front of him, and is closest to the final timing and scoring loop that sets the order after pit stops. Matt Kenseth, who will start sixth, picked the pit stop closest to the pit-road entrance. Kyle Larson (starting second) and Joey Logano (fourth) selected pit stalls with openings in front. Kyle Busch (starting third) and Elliott Sadler (starting fifth) have openings behind them. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Hosts Alan Cavanna and Marty Snider preview this weekend's action at Atlanta Motor Speedway .