RELATED: Chase Grid " Chase bubble watch " Chase Fest details A year ago, it was Kasey Kahne . Only two races remained before the start of the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , and the Hendrick Motorsports driver was 13th in points. Unfortunately, he was outside the top 16 in the Chase standings. Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin , AJ Allmendinger , Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola trailed Kahne in points. But they were among those that had wins. They had invitations to the dance. At the time, Kahne had managed only two top-five finishes. His average finishing position was 16.8. He hadn't been to the victory lane since midway through the previous season. So he and his team went out and won at Atlanta Motor Speedway . It earned Kahne one of the final Chase spots and the No. 5 team a second chance. It wasn't quite as easy as it sounds. Kevin Harvick , as was often the case, was dominant at AMS. Kahne fell a lap down early. The team battled back. He didn't take the lead for the first time until Lap 303 of the scheduled 325-lap race. Suddenly, he seemed to be on his way to the win. Then cautions appeared, forcing two late restarts. Green, white, checkered late. Kahne's lead was lost on pit road. Yet somehow he muscled his way past Matt Kenseth coming to the white flag, holding on for the win and a spot in the Chase. It's a similar position for the 35-year-old this year. Two races remain -- stops at Darlington Raceway and Richmond International Raceway -- before the field is finalized for this year's 10-race run to determine the Sprint Cup champion. Kahne is once again winless. He is not alone. Teammate Jeff Gordon has finished inside the top five only three times this year. The four-time champion is ahead of Clint Bowyer in the playoff picture, with a wider margin back to folks such as Aric Almirola and Greg Biffle . A year ago Gordon had three wins and a vise-like grip on first place in the points. Bowyer's got a pair of top-fives, but much of the attention around the No. 15 team of Michael Waltrip Racing centers on where Bowyer will call home next season. Paul Menard has a razor-thin lead on Gordon in points, but taking nothing for granted. Can anyone? Matt Kenseth 's blown engine at Bristol last week, leaving the Joe Gibbs driver 42nd in the final rundown, didn't go unnoticed. Things not only can happen, they often do. With 10 drivers already secure -- 11 if you go ahead and give Kyle Busch one of the spots although he's close enough to the fault line that a misstep could make things interesting -- and two races remaining, at least three of this year's Chase spots will be filled based on the points standings after Richmond. It could be five, if no new winner emerges in the next two weeks. Few on the fringes, though, have shown signs of contending for wins. Almirola? One top five and only three laps led this season. Biffle? It's shaping up to be the wrong type of career year for the Roush Fenway Racing driver, with just two top-fives and an average finish of 20th. Austin Dillon ? Kyle Larson ? Both have shown potential. Both are winless. Kahne? Well, who knows? The question isn't can it be done. Kahne's already proven that it's possible. The question is who among those can pull it off?
Dillon nabbed second, third-place finishes in adjacent Truck, XFINITY races Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live HAMPTON, Ga. -- Double-duty. From Joe Gibbs Racing 's Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth to Team Penske 's Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano , plenty of NASCAR's biggest names have routinely raced in multiple national series events for many of the season's weekends for years. Richard Childress Racing XFINITY Series driver Ty Dillon has gotten a taste of that each of the first two weeks of the season thus far, running all three races at Daytona -- including his first Daytona 500 start -- followed by the XFINITY / Camping World Truck Series Hisense 250 /Hyundai Construction Parts 200 double-header at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday. Dillon wasn't alone in doing so, as he was joined by Erik Jones , Daniel Suarez, John Wes Townley , Ryan Sieg and Morgan Shepherd in the 450-mile, two-race conquest. Where his feats did stand out, however, were at the front of the pack. The 23-year-old finished third in the XFINITY race -- behind race-winning Sprint Cup Series champ Kevin Harvick and Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano -- and second in the Truck Series race -- behind two-time defending series champ Matt Crafton . Not too shabby. "When you can come out of a race track like Atlanta , that's so tough to drive, with two top-three finishes in two of the top-three series, it's awesome," Dillon said following the Truck Series race. "I'm very happy with the way the day went. "It was nice running two of everything and making it to the media center twice. I thought I'd sit in Joey (Logano)'s chair this time; he's had some good luck so I'm sitting where he sat during the last (post-race press conference following the XFINITY race) … I've always dreamed of being a driver who runs multiple series in a weekend; hopefully in the Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY and Trucks." Dillon will be competing for the driver's championship in the XFINITY Series, but will have a shot at plenty of trophies and Victory Lane celebrations between his occasional Cup and Truck starts remaining this season. The most valuable thing he'll take away from these additional races, however, is the experience. Saturday's races gave him a front row seat to what that looks like. "Obviously, we were racing against a guy who just won the Daytona 500 and two guys who were just battling for the ( Sprint Cup Series) championship, so they obviously know what they're doing," Dillon said of Logano and Harvick, respectively, who have 80 combined XFINITY and Truck Series victories between them. "You see them in front of you, you get hungry. You want to get up there and battle with those guys, but hopefully down the road when I gain more experience, I'll be able to compete a little bit better in that situation, but I was proud of our run. "All in all, the circumstances, maybe a couple more restarts and we might've been able to race with them a little bit harder, but it is what it is. They're pretty dang good here. I think Harvick's won just about every time he's raced here, so I'm proud of our effort and hopefully next year we come back and we'll be able to race with them." Dillon will get another shot at doubling down this weekend in Sin City, when the RCR driver gets behind the wheel of his No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro in Saturday's Boyd Gaming 300 (4 p.m. ET, FS1) and the No. 33 Chevrolet SS in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . "It's a great feeling to start the season off on back-to-back third place finishes," Dillon said. "It gives us a lot of confidence and I wouldn't be surprised if we go compete for a win next week in Las Vegas." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Take a virtual lap around Atlanta Motor Speedway with Kurt Busch.
Track is the latest to announce safety enhancements Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Atlanta Motor Speedway announced Tuesday morning that it will expand its use of impact-absorbing barriers ahead of this weekend's on-track activity. The move comes three days after Kyle Busch was injured in a NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway , his car slamming into a concrete retaining wall without the benefit of the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barriers. "As promised, we expedited a review of potential safety advancements at each of our racing venues," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. "We're pleased with the additional safety enhancements Atlanta Motor Speedway will be making leading into our events this weekend. As we've stated, NASCAR and its track partners remain steadfastly committed to safety." According to the statement, the Atlanta track -- which has hosted NASCAR's top series since its 1960 opening -- will add 130 linear feet of protective barrier for this weekend, extending coverage of the protective wall at the exit of pit road near Turn 1 and an additional tire barrier along the inside wall of Turn 4. All three NASCAR national series will be racing at the 1.54-mile Georgia track this weekend, culminating with Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX), the second race of the year for the Sprint Cup Series. Officials at the speedway said they would conduct a further review of additional SAFER barriers after Sunday's race. Hours after Busch's injury, Daytona track president Joie Chitwood III said the 2.5-mile track would take every measure to ring its facility with the SAFER technology. Atlanta's decision comes one day after similar announcements by officials at 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway and 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway to expand their coverage with protective walls. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Track president: 'We've got history and experience doing March races' Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live For the first time since 2004, NASCAR teams won't load up and head west for the season's second stop following the Daytona 500. Instead, Week No. 2 will find teams from all three national series -- Sprint Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Truck -- headed to Atlanta Motor Speedway . Coming on the heels of the season’s premier race has its challenges, AMS president Ed Clark told NASCAR.com, and weather is always a concern with an early March date in the area. RELATED: Atlanta plans SAFER barrier additions But, Clark said, "We've got history and experience doing March races. "The thing that's different about this one is that in the past, the Daytona 500 kicked the season off, we came home and had two to three weeks of outstanding interest in the sport. The day after the 500 was always your biggest ticket sales day of the year. "In this case, the Daytona 500 is over Sunday afternoon and we’re into Atlanta's race week right then." AMS hosted a Labor Day weekend race from 2010 through this past season. Up until 2010, it hosted two annual Sprint Cup weekends, the first typically falling in early to mid-March. From '82 through 2004, the second Sprint Cup race of the season was held at either Richmond International Raceway or North Carolina Motor Speedway (Rockingham). California's Auto Club Speedway hosted the second stop from '05 through '10 and Phoenix International Raceway had been the host since '11. "It's a plus and a minus," Clark said of being No. 2 on the schedule. "We all remember the year that Cale (Yarborough) and Bobby and Donnie (Allison) got in a fight (at Daytona in '79). The printing press couldn't have printed enough tickets for the next race. … That's a bonus when it happens. The world is watching what goes on at Daytona, there's a lot of focus on the sport. Everything is new. So it's a plus from that standpoint." Weather issues early in the year aren't uncommon for the Atlanta region, however. And the long-range forecast for this year's race weekend didn't look promising. But it has since changed (and will likely again), going from a chance of snow to a 40 percent chance of rain to a 20 percent chance of rain in the span of a week, according to www.NOAA.gov. Clark is more concerned about those things his group can control instead of those it can't. "I haven't even looked at (the weather forecast) in about a day and a half," he said. "No need to. It changes. "That's the approach we've taken all along. We know how to promote races; we've done it for years. Have your plan; work your plan. When you get to race time, you don't want to look back and say there was something you could have done that you didn't do." Part of that plan included an appearance by reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick on Monday. Prior to Thursday's scheduled test session, Atlanta Motor Speedway Day will be celebrated at the state capitol. Three-time premier series champion and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Darrell Waltrip is expected to join active native Georgia drivers from all three series for a visit with the governor as well as stops as the Senate and House chambers. "The long and short of it," Clark said, "is we've done things we typically do, no matter when the race is." In addition to normal race-weekend preparations, AMS announced Tuesday upgrades to its current SAFER barrier system will be put in place in time for this weekend's events. Camping World Truck Series teams, which haven't competed at AMS since 2012, will share top billing on Saturday with the XFINITY Series in a double-header race day that features the Hisense 250 XFINITY Series race (2 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) and the Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 Truck Series event (5:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Sprint Cup Series event is scheduled for Sunday, March 1 with TV coverage on FOX. "We know we'll have a good race; we always have a good race at Atlanta ," Clark said. "If we can get that first one done and all be positive, we have a whole year to work on ('16). I think that's when we will find out what the potential is for the future." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get caught up before Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX) Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live What: 56th annual Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 . Where : Atlanta Motor Speedway , 1.54-mile oval in Hampton, Georgia. When: Sunday, March 1 p.m. ET. TV/Radio: FOX, PRN. 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 " Starting lineup 1. Joey Logano, Team Penske No. 22 Ford. 2. Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Fastest in practice First practice: Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet (192.989 mph). " Full results Final practice: Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (191.054 mph). " Full results To the rear: Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (engine change); Michael Annett, Circle Sport Racing No. 33 Chevrolet (driver change) Driver rating (Best driver rating average at Atlanta based on the past nine years, minimum 5 starts): Jeff Gordon, 106.0 Jimmie Johnson, 104.9 Last year's winner: Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet. Strange things: Between Travis Kvapil's stolen -- and then found -- No. 44 Sprint Cup Series ride, Denny Hamlin's motorcoach backed into by a runaway llama SUV, Rodney Childers' tow vehicle being the victim of a hit-and-run and who knows what else, Atlanta has gotten off to a strange start. Considering this is the race that saw a cat and/or squirrel run in front of Kevin Harvick on the track, there's no telling what could happen in Sunday's event. On a roll to the pole: Joey Logano, your Daytona 500 winner, backed up his first victory in the Great American Race by coming out strong in qualifying at Atlanta Motor Speedway . The Team Penske driver earned the Coors Light Pole Award for both the Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY Series races. AMS has given Logano headaches in the past, but it appears he finally has a handle on the 1.54-mile speedway . Qualifying … or not: Plenty of big name drivers will be working their way up through the field after they failed to make it through technical inspection ahead of Coors Light Pole Award qualifying. With Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart -- not to mention Kevin Harvick, who will start from the rear for an engine change -- we'll see some fast, intense racing from the get-go as drivers fight their way through the field. They said it I: "This is a very rare occasion. This is the first one I have ever had. The engine shop does a great job. I am just glad that it happened today. Our Jimmy John's/Budweiser team is doing a great job and the car is handling good. If we were going to have something happen, this is a good place to have it happen because you can pass. … It will just make for a better show." -- Kevin Harvick on his blown engine They said it II: "Hopefully, we'll finish where we start. It's been an amazing few weeks if you think about the Daytona 500 and everything that comes along with that, and then coming down here to Atlanta and starting first is special, especially for me here at this race track. I remember sitting in the corner and watching drivers up here talking about their qualifying run and racing Legends cars out front here for years, so there are a lot of memories here. You guys see the picture over there (in the Media Center) when you walk in with David (Ragan) and Reed (Sorenson) when we were young and racing here. Obviously, anything to be in Victory Lane here; it's a very special place for me. I don't know what's going on lately. Everything is going well and we're just trying to keep the old train rolling here. It's going great and we'll see what happens on Sunday." -- Joey Logano They said it III: "I don't think she is interested in being a celebrity. I think that she enjoyed the moments of celebrity that she has gotten. Who doesn't like some attention? I think that for her it's more of kids telling her at school. Being seven and eight years old that well you are not going to be on TV anymore after this year. I think that sort of took her back. But it's been a good life lesson trying to teach her how to handle those types of situations." -- Jeff Gordon on daughter Ella Sofia, who received a Bandolero car from AMS to share with her brother Leo Former Atlanta winners in the field: Jeff Gordon (5); Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart (3); Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick (1). MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Michael Waltrip Racing turns to 22-year-old in relief role CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Brett Moffitt , who made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in 2014, will drive the No. 55 Aaron's Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1 as Brian Vickers recuperates from offseason heart surgery. Owner Michael Waltrip made the announcement Tuesday during his team's stop on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. "He was the driver that everybody at Michael Waltrip Racing wanted to be in that car at Atlanta ," Waltrip said. "They believe in him." Moffitt said he learned of his appointment to the No. 55 Toyota two weeks ago, making it exceedingly difficult to keep his fill-in role a secret. "It was a stressful wait to find out that I was going to be in the car, that's for sure," Moffitt said. "I obviously wanted this opportunity really bad and I'm thankful for it." In seven Sprint Cup starts last season, the best start and finish for the 22-year-old native of Grimes, Iowa and former NASCAR Next driver and K&N Pro Series East race winner came in his debut on June 1 at Dover International Speedway when he began the race in 18th and finished 22nd. Though he said he has been enjoying his time as a developmental driver in the MWR system, Moffitt said he was continuing to explore options -- in any of NASCAR's three national series -- that would allow him to race on a more consistent basis. "I'm very happy with MWR. They're very supportive of me -- have been since 2011," Moffitt said. "They gave me the first opportunity to test a Cup car, they gave me the first opportunity to race one, so they've been huge supporters of my career and I wouldn't be where I am without them, that's for sure. But at the same time, I need to be in a race car more often and they've been willing to work with me on that, and they said hey, if you find an opportunity, we're not going to hold you back from it." Waltrip agreed: "We'll let Brett do anything he wants to do in order to get laps so that he can continue to mature as a race car driver. We believe in Brett, he's our guy, but if we can loan him out and he can race somewhere else that would make me happy." Waltrip will drive the No. 55 Toyota in the Daytona 500 on Feb. 22 (1 p.m. ET, FOX) as he attempts to win his third Great American Race. Despite missing the first two races of the season, Vickers received NASCAR's blessing to run for the Sprint Cup Series championship provided he meets all other requirements for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. He will return to his ride at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the third race of the year on March 8. Last month, doctors discovered Vickers' body rejected a patch that was placed over a hole in his heart. They alleviated the problem and gave him clearance to race just three months after the corrective heart surgery. "They took my heart out and replaced it with a lion heart," Vickers joked on Tuesday. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Hisense 250 will run on Feb. 28, 2015 MORE: Complete schedule " Buy tickets for Atlanta The XFINITY Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be sponsored by Hisense and the event will be named the Hisense 250. The race is set to be run on Saturday, February 28 with television coverage on FOX Sports 1. The race will be the second XFINITY Series race of the 2015 season and the first part of a rare XFINITY Series- Camping World Truck Series doubleheader. Hisense is a multinational electronics manufacturer based in Qingdao, China. Hisense USA operates a Georgia-based R&D center in Georgia. "We are beyond delighted to welcome Hisense as the title sponsor for the XFINITY Series race in Atlanta on Feb. 28, as it continues its global development in the U.S.," said Ed Clark, Atlanta Motor Speedway president and GM. "Hisense provides a full range of quality electronic products to a worldwide market, and we look forward to a partnership that will continue to fuel its expanding reach across the U.S. and provide a quality event for fans attending the Hisense 250." Atlanta is hosting a Truck Series event for the first time since 2012 and the race weekend was moved up to follow the Daytona opening weekend as part of several changes to the schedule. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Brian Scott lines up second to Team Penske driver RELATED: Full lineup for the Hisense 250 Joey Logano won the Coors Light Pole Award on Saturday for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). This is the Team Penske driver's first pole award at Atlanta and the 27th of his XFINITY Series career. Along with winning the Daytona 500 last week, Logano also grabbed the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX). Lining up next to Logano on the front row will be Richard Childress Racing driver Brian Scott. Regan Smith, Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth round out the top-five starters. Chase Elliott, reigning XFINITY Series champion, will line up ninth at his home track. The XFINITY Series will return to the track at 2 p.m. ET for the Hisense 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway with TV coverage on FOX Sports 1.
Keep tabs on the activity at Atlanta Motor Speedway This week brings the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series , the NASCAR XFINITY Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to Atlanta Motor Speedway . The Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 will be held on Sunday, March 1 at 1 p.m. ET with coverage on FOX. The XFINITY Series Hisense 250 is on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. ET with coverage on FOX Sports 1. The Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 is on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET with coverage on FOX Sports 1. For more information on track times, press conferences and GarageCam, you can check out the full weekend schedule . We know you may not have the time to watch the race action without any interruptions, so if you're on the go, here's how to keep up at Atlanta . NASCAR.com's live Sprint Cup Series leaderboard , XFINITY Series leaderboard and Camping World Truck Series leaderboard update in real-time and offer constant text updates of lead changes, cautions, strategies, strong runs and everything in between. From the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard, fans can also access live standings . On the go? Download the NASCAR Mobile app to follow the leaderboards live from your device. Lap-by-Lap will keep you caught up even if you can only take a peek here or there. Check in to read back through all the laps you've missed, or keep an eye on the feed for real-time race updates. We'll also send race updates via Twitter through the official @NASCAR and @NASCARStats handles. RaceBuddy will have enhanced views and coverage for the Sprint Cup Series and for most XFINITY Series races with 10 HD live race views, including six in-car cameras as well as a backstretch camera, pit road camera and more. Haven't tried RaceView yet? If you sign up, you'll get virtual video of cars on the track from various angles and hear what your favorite team is saying over the radio in both the Sprint Cup and select XFINITY Series races. Use it as a second screen or as your only screen. Just want to scan the radios? You can have that too with Scanner (formerly RaceView Audio). On a mobile device? Get RaceView Mobile here . If you want to be more involved in the on-track action, you can manage your fantasy team on NASCAR.com and follow your team's performance in NASCAR Fantasy Live . Mobile users can also download NASCAR Connect , a game from OneUp Sports that allows users to play other fans with race predictions for some off-track competition while drivers battle it out on the track. Live Press Pass video streams will keep the NASCAR action rolling even after the winner goes in and out of Victory Lane. Catch interviews with the top finishers and series champions immediately following the checkered flag for all three national series events, and stay tuned to NASCAR.com throughout the week for the latest news. FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation