See how the rookie meeting has evolved over the years RELATED: Labonte's crash still impacts rookies " Youngest, oldest rookie winners One by one, before the first engine has fired and the first car has hit the track, they gather in the NASCAR hauler parked inside the garage. It's a scene repeated every weekend when NASCAR rolls into town. Their levels of experience often differ quite a bit. There are champions and those with numerous starts in lower series seated alongside those with limited experience and much less success. Yet here everyone is treated the same. And everyone carries the same label -- rookie. • • • "A lot of stuff happens fast here," Richard Buck, NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series managing director, tells the group that's gathered on a cool, damp Friday morning at Martinsville Speedway . Each driver has been given several sheets of paper showing diagrams that include the placement of timing and commitment lines, pit entrance and exit and the proper route to enter and exit pit road from the garage area. It's information that is track-specific. While the basic processes that take place during any given race weekend are relatively the same, there are certain details at each venue that those with limited experience need to know. Proper procedures are explained and advice is doled out. "Use your hand signals so you don't start to slow down and get all jammed up and have somebody's radiator in your backseat," Buck tells the drivers. Each week, a veteran driver will also attend the meetings to offer pointers and answer any questions a rookie driver might have. At Martinsville, 2004 premier series champion Kurt Busch was on hand. "Those of you that have made laps around here before, you know how quick it is," Busch said of the series' shortest venue. "It's an awkward track. There's no other place that really compares to this. So the thing you have to do is to get comfortable with the surroundings." Busch said he would often walk around tracks "even if I've been here before" to reinforce the information given during the meeting. "Have your spotters communicate to you where the holes are when you pull out ... your tires will be ice cold here ... they won't help you do much turning when you get into (Turns) 3 and 4 ... but if you're consciously making an effort to warm up your tires, somebody's going to be right on your bumper and it's going to be chaos," he said. Busch also urged them to take note of the commitment and blend lines at Martinsville. "It's the same Turn 2 line that's painted at Bristol," he said later. "But at Bristol, you have two pit roads (one on the frontstretch and one on the backstretch). It's the same line in the same place and it means two different things." Drivers' left-side tires must touch the blend line near Turn 2 at Martinsville before pulling up onto the track. A similar line at Bristol signifies the pit entrance on the backstretch -- touching any portion of it without proceeding onto pit road will result in a commitment line violation. "Now they'll go to Bristol (in two weeks)," Busch said, "and they need to remember." • • • So what constitutes a rookie in the eyes of NASCAR? In most cases, it's up to the discretion of the series director and is based on the individual's prior experience. Matt DiBenedetto , 23, made his first Sprint Cup Series start this year after running the bulk of the races (29 of 33) in the XFINITY Series last season. Brett Moffitt , 22, made seven Sprint Cup Series starts in 2014. Between 2009 and 2013 he made just one XFINITY Series start and two in the Camping World Truck Series. Both are among those competing for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in Sprint Cup , along with Jeb Burton , Tanner Berryhill and Alex Kennedy . To be eligible for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, a driver must attempt to qualify in at least eight of the first 20 points races. A 10-1 point system, separate from the NASCAR championship driver points format, is used for scoring rookies in each race. The highest finishing rookie receives 10 points, second highest receives nine, etc. Only the top 17 finishes by each driver count toward his or her points total at the end of the year. Bonus points are also awarded for attempts, finishing inside the top 10 and upon the completion of the final race of the season. A panel then grades each rookie on conduct with officials, conduct and awareness on the track, personal appearance and relationship with the media. Points awarded by the panel are then averaged and added to each driver's total, and the driver with the most points is the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award recipient. Jeb Burton is one of five rookies this year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. • • • Of course, it wasn't always that way. In 1959, Darlington Raceway , in conjunction with sponsor Pure Oil (later to become Union 76), debuted the Darlington Record Club. Members were those that had qualified highest for each auto manufacturer during time trials for the annual Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway . Special recognition went to those that established track records there as well. While NASCAR had been selecting a rookie of the year for nearly a decade -- Rocky Mount, North Carolina's Blackie Pitt was the first recipient in 1954 –- the Union 76/Darlington Record Club was eventually tasked with monitoring the progress of rookie drivers on the uniquely shaped, treacherous 1.366-mile track. What began as an effort between driver Glenn " Fireball " Roberts and NASCAR official John Bruner Sr., to observe new drivers eventually evolved into a panel of Record Club members whose job was to either pass or fail those drivers attempt to make their Southern 500 debuts. (It's worth noting that the club also played a crucial role in requiring all drivers to complete a physical examination before being allowed to compete at Darlington. Today, a physical examination is mandatory for all three national series prior to the start of each season.) Before the Record Club came into existence, "you just went down there and run," said NASCAR Hall of Fame member Richard Petty, a seven-time NASCAR premier series champion and winner of the 1967 Southern 500. "(The Record Club) was good public relations. It gave those (rookies) something they had to do. Indianapolis (home of the Indianapolis 500) always had a rookie test you had to pass before you could go out and run. Well, we said if they can do it, we can do it, too. "Back then, (Darlington) was a one-groove track through (Turns) 3 and 4, which is now 1-2. We'd explain what you had to do to pass people or let people pass you. Then you just said, 'OK, now go out and run.' " To pass the test, drivers new to the series were required to run within a percentage of a pre-determined speed. "If we were running 130 mph," Petty said, "they would have to run 125 or something like that. Then they'd go out and run six or eight laps on the track by themselves." "It was a little easier to show up at Daytona with a car even though you may not have that much experience and get in the race," three-time series champion and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Darrell Waltrip said. "But they really observed you. If you were somebody new that they didn't know and you showed up at the track, they'd have some drivers that would kind of see how you did, see if you could handle the track and the speed and all that. There was always somebody watching you, but Darlington was the only official test we took." The panel would make its recommendations to NASCAR, but it was up to Bruner, a former flagman who eventually became Chief Steward for the sanctioning body, to make the final call. Richard Petty, who won the Southern 500 in 1967, used to show rookies the ropes at the iconic track. • • • In 1976, the Record Club's competition panel began overseeing the rookie program. Nearly a decade later, one of racing's greatest figures found himself labeled a rookie, and was required to go through the orientation process. Far from being a rookie, Anthony Joseph Foyt, better known simply as A.J., already had seven NASCAR premier series wins to his credit including a victory in the 1972 Daytona 500 . But Foyt, a four-time winner of the Indy 500 as well, had never raced at Darlington. "I am going to Darlington as a bonafide rookie. I don't want anything waived," Foyt told the press prior to his debut. "Why should I be different than anybody else? I know a lot of guys would have too much pride and ego to take the rookie test, but I'm not that type of person." NASCAR driver Ricky Rudd was the president of the Record Club at that time. Among the members of the competition panel were fellow drivers Waltrip and Buddy Baker. "Buddy and I and I forget who else, we observed A.J. Foyt and we flunked him his first day," Waltrip said. "Well, we told him we flunked him. "I told Buddy, I said 'Go down there and tell A.J. that we're going to have to have a meeting about his test because I'm not sure he passed.' Buddy looked at me and said 'Do you think I'm crazy? You go down there and tell him.' " Foyt passed the test, eventually finishing 25th in his only Southern 500 start. • • • Ken Schrader , a four-time race winner in NASCAR's premier series, was in that same rookie class with Foyt in 1985. Schrader posted three top-10 finishes that year en route to winning the Rookie of the Year title, beating out Eddie Bierschwale and Don Hume. Twice he served as president of the Record Club. "Yeah, I got elected president one time, then got elected president another time because at the banquet in Darlington I sat in the back and drank with the wrong group," the fun-loving Schrader said. "I was sitting with, I think, Phil Holmer and T. Wayne (Robertson) and some Unocal folks." Holmer was a Goodyear representative while Robertson headed up series sponsor R.J. Reynolds sports marketing arm. "They threw my ass right in," Schrader said of his election. "My acceptance speed, I stood up and said 'This is (expletive)!' "But the rookie meetings were neat. We'd just go in there, talk about the do's and don'ts for the tracks. Some of it was repetitious obviously but then there was so much about each individual track and it was the first time that some of those guys went to those tracks. Because back then not everybody then came through the Truck or ( XFINITY ) Series. "Now, hell, you're a rookie at a race, you've been to how many places (already)? You've probably raced there in some other series. "So it's a little different now." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Fireball Roberts
A look ahead to the Memorial Day weekend race at Charlotte DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 18, 2014) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina going into the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24 (6 p.m. ET on FOX). CHARLOTTE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ortho Ford) · Five top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.3 · Average Running Position of 15.3, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 88.7, eighth-best · 303 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.378 mph, ninth-fastest · 3,918 Laps in the Top 15 (54.6%), ninth-most · 700 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), ninth-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · One win, six top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 19.4 · Driver Rating of 84.4, 12th-best · 216 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 3,833 Laps in the Top 15 (53.4%), 10th-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 Skittles Toyota) · 10 top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 15.1 · Average Running Position of 9.8, second-best · Driver Rating of 106.7, second-best · 478 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 177.219 mph, second-fastest · 5,624 Laps in the Top 15 (78.4%), second-most · 1,007 Quality Passes, second-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 Subway Toyota) · Six top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 11.3 · Average Running Position of 14.6, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 89.6, seventh-best · 1,671 Green Flag Passes, second-most · 4,450 Laps in the Top 15 (62.0%), seventh-most · 848 Quality Passes, fifth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet) · Five wins, 17 top fives, 24 top 10s; nine poles · Average finish of 15.5 · Average Running Position of 14.2, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 91.6, sixth-best · 280 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.644 mph, third-fastest · 4,562 Laps in the Top 15 (63.6%), sixth-most · 826 Quality Passes, sixth-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota) · Four top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.5 · Average Running Position of 12.6, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 92.8, fifth-best · 239 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.433 mph, sixth-fastest · 4,837 Laps in the Top 15 (71.4%), third-most · 791 Quality Passes, seventh-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser / Jimmy John’s Chevrolet) · Three wins, five top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 15.8 · Average Running Position of 16.4, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 84.7, 11th-best · 214 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 1,609 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · 4,254 Laps in the Top 15 (59.3%), eighth-most · 743 Quality Passes, eighth-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet) · Seven wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 11.4 · Series-best Average Running Position of 7.6 · Series-best Driver Rating of 111.6 · Series-high 688 Fastest Laps Run · 1,444 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 177.298 mph · Series-high 6,277 Laps in the Top 15 (87.5%) · Series-high 1,031 Quality Passes Kasey Kahne (No. 5 LIFTMASTER Chevrolet) · Four wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 11.5 · Average Running Position of 11.8, third-best · Driver Rating of 100.8, third-best · 667 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · 1,642 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.601 mph, fourth-fastest · 4,725 Laps in the Top 15 (65.9%), fourth-most · 874 Quality Passes, third-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 D E WALT Toyota) · Two wins, nine top fives, 16 top 10s · Average finish of 13.6 · Average Running Position of 13.8, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 95.5, fourth-best · 379 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · 1,531 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.531 mph, fifth-fastest · 4,680 Laps in the Top 15 (65.2%), fifth-most · 854 Quality Passes, fourth-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · One win, two top fives, three top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.7 · Average Running Position of 14.6, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 86.5, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.408 mph, eighth-fastest Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Four top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 10.0 · Average Running Position of 14.0, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 88.4, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.344 mph, 11th-fastest The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 28 0 3 5 11 1 15.8 84.7 2 Martin Truex Jr . 19 0 0 0 4 0 18.5 77.0 3 Jimmie Johnson 27 4 7 13 17 4 11.4 111.6 4 Joey Logano 12 0 0 4 7 0 10.0 88.4 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 30 1 0 5 11 4 19.4 81.1 6 Brad Keselowski 11 1 1 2 3 1 15.7 86.5 7 Matt Kenseth 31 0 2 9 16 5 13.6 95.5 8 Jamie McMurray 25 0 2 7 10 3 16.6 80.0 9 Jeff Gordon 44 9 5 17 24 10 15.5 91.6 10 Kasey Kahne 22 0 4 9 13 1 11.5 100.8 11 Aric Almirola 6 1 0 0 0 1 19.5 74.3 12 Paul Menard 16 0 0 0 2 2 22.9 66.1 13 Ryan Newman 28 9 0 4 11 5 18.5 79.0 14 Kurt Busch 29 0 1 6 7 4 19.4 84.4 15 Denny Hamlin 19 1 0 4 11 1 13.5 92.8 16 Clint Bowyer 18 0 1 2 5 1 17.1 82.0 * – Based on last 19 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Charlotte Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 12 of 36 (05-24-15) Track Size : 1.5-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2 : 24 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4 : 24 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 5 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 5 degrees Frontstretch Length : 1,980 feet Backstretch Length : 1,500 feet Race Length : 400 laps / 600 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Charlotte Jimmie Johnson ........................ 111.6 Kyle Busch ............................... 106.7 Kasey Kahne ............................. 100.8 Matt Kenseth .............................. 95.5 Denny Hamlin ............................. 92.8 Jeff Gordon ................................ 91.6 Carl Edwards .............................. 89.6 Greg Biffle .................................. 88.7 Joey Logano .............................. 88.4 Brad Keselowski ......................... 86.5 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (19 total) among active drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Jimmie Johnson , Chevrolet 194.911 mph, 27.705 secs. 05-22-14 2014 race winner : Jimmie Johnson , Chevrolet 145.484 mph, (04:07:27), 05-25-14 Track qualifying record: Kurt Busch , Chevrolet 198.771 mph, 27.167 secs. 10-09-14 Track race (600 miles) record: Kasey Kahne , Chevrolet 155.687 mph, (03:51:14), 05-27-12 At Charlotte Motor Speedway : History · Construction began on Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) in 1959. · The track’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 19, 1960 – won by Joe Lee Johnson . · The track was repaved midseason in 1994. · The track name changed from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1999. It changed back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 2010 season. · The track was re-paved again before the 2006 season. Notebook · There have been 112 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races at Charlotte Motor Speedway , two races per year since the track opened in 1960. In 1961, there were two 100-mile qualifying points races held the week before the May race. The first six fall races at Charlotte were 400-mile events (1960-65). · 527 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points paying race at Charlotte Motor Speedway ; 378 in more than one. 441 drivers have competed in the Coca-Cola 600 ; 287 in more than one. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Charlotte with 64. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 44 starts; followed by Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart with 31. Richard Petty and Bill Elliott have made the most Coca-Cola 600 starts with 31 each; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in 600 starts with 22. · Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway (World 600) in 1960 with a speed of 133.904 mph. · 42 drivers have Coors Light poles at Charlotte, led by David Pearson with 14. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon lead all active drivers in poles at CMS with nine. · David Pearson and Ryan Newman are tied for the series most Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Coors Light poles with six each; followed by Jeff Gordon with five. · 12 drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Charlotte. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Charlotte with 11; from the fall of 1973 through 1978. · Jeff Gordon won five straight Coca-Cola 600 poles at Charlotte between 1994 and 1998. · Youngest Charlotte pole winner: Jeff Gordon (10/10/1993 – 22 years, 2 months, 6 days). · Oldest Charlotte pole winner: Bobby Allison (10/11/1987 – 49 years, 10 months, 8 days). · 45 different drivers have won at Charlotte Motor Speedway , led by Jimmie Johnson with seven wins including four Coca-Cola 600 wins - 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2014. · 30 different drivers have won the Coca-Cola 600 , led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with five; Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with four; followed by teammates Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne with three each. · Nine drivers have posted consecutive wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway , including three consecutive by NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen (fall 1964 and both 1965) and four straight by Jimmie Johnson (2004 and 2005 sweeps). · A season sweep at Charlotte has occurred eight times, including each season from 2004-2007. · Seven times from seven different drivers has the winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race gone on to win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kasey Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010). · Youngest Charlotte winner: Jeff Gordon (05/29/1994 – 22 years, 9 months, 25 days). · Oldest Charlotte winner: Cale Yarborough (10/06/1985 – 46 years, 6 months, 9 days). · Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Charlotte in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 18: Jimmie Johnson (seven), Jeff Gordon (five), Darrell Waltrip (two), Ken Schrader (one), Terry Labonte (one), Casey Mears (one) and Kasey Kahne (one). · Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Charlotte; led by Chevrolet with 43 victories; followed by Ford with 29. Chevrolet also has the most Coca-Cola 600 wins at 23. · 15 of the 112 (13.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Jimmie Johnson in 2014 ( Coca-Cola 600 ). · The second-place starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (17) than any other starting position at Charlotte Motor Speedway . · 32 of the 112 (28.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the front row: 15 from the pole and 17 from second-place. · 85 of the 112 (75.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Charlotte have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Nine of the 112 (8.0%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Charlotte is 37th, by Jimmie Johnson in the Coca-Cola 600 of 2003. · Richard Petty leads the series in runner-up finishes at Charlotte with nine. Jeff Gordon , Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers with three. · Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers in runner-up finishes in the Coca-Cola 600 with two. · NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison are tied for the series most top-five finishes at Charlotte with 23. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 17. Richard Petty leads the series in top fives in the Coca-Cola 600 with 12; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Charlotte with 31. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 24. Darrell Waltrip, Ricky Rudd and David Pearson lead the series in top 10s in the Coca-Cola 600 with 15 each; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 12. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Charlotte with a 7.630. · Joey Logano leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Charlotte with a 10.000. Carl Edwards leads all active drivers in average finish in the Coca-Cola 600 with a 9.000. · Dale Earnhardt Jr . leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Charlotte without visiting Victory Lane at 30; followed by Ryan Newman with 28. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the May 29, 2005 race won by Jimmie Johnson over Bobby Labonte with a MOV of 0.027 second. · There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway , but only once for the Coca-Cola 600 (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): fall of 2005 (334/336), fall of 2007 (334/337) and the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 (400/402). · Five of the 112 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 won by David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip Racing . Four of the five races shortened were the 600-mile events (1968, 1997, 2003 and 2009). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway twice; the fall race of 200
Former engine builder, Waddell Wilson, talks about Fireball Roberts' contributions to the sport and how he helped discover drafting.
A stats-based look ahead to the second race of the Sprint Cup season Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Chase Grid standings after Daytona 500 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. –Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia going into the Folds Of Honor QuikTrip 500 on March ATLANTA-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ortho Ford) · Three top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.7 · Average Running Position of 13.9, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 90.8, 11th-best · 237 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,031 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · 3,466 Laps in the Top 15 (66.2%), sixth-most · 539 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), seventh-most Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Kelly Blue Book Chevrolet) · One win, eight top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 12.3 · Average Running Position of 13.0, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 92.7, ninth-best · 227 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 1,119 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.203 mph, eighth-fastest · 3,382 Laps in the Top 15 (64.6%), seventh-most · 535 Quality Passes, eighth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 ARRIS Toyota) · Three wins, nine top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 14.6 · Average Running Position of 12.4, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 100.1, third-best · Series-high 371 Fastest Laps Run · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.499 mph, second-fastest · 4,038 Laps in the Top 15 (77.1%), third-most · 552 Quality Passes, fifth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 3M Chevrolet) · Five wins, 16 top fives, 26 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 11.9 · Average Running Position of 10.2, second-best · Series-best Driver Rating of 106.0 · 296 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.453 mph, fourth-fastest · 4,161 Laps in the Top 15 (79.5%), second-most · Series-high 612 Quality Passes Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · One win, three top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 16.8 · Average Running Position of 12.1, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 97.4, sixth-best · 263 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.463 mph, third-fastest · 3,312 Laps in the Top 15 (67.4%), ninth-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/ Budweiser Chevrolet) · One win, five top fives, nine top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 18.8 · Driver Rating of 90.4, 12th-best · 280 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 949 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.232 mph, seventh-fastest · 3,045 Laps in the Top 15 (58.1%), 12th-most · 470 Quality Passes, 11th-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Three wins, 12 top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 11.5 · Series-best Average Running Position of 9.1 · Driver Rating of 104.9, second-best · 280 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 171.523 mph · Series-high 4,381 Laps in the Top 15 (83.7%) · 582 Quality Passes, third-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Nine top fives, 15 top 10s · Average finish of 12.3 · Average Running Position of 12.2, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 97.9, fifth-best · 201 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 1,034 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.339 mph, fifth-fastest · 3,749 Laps in the Top 15 (71.6%), fourth-most · 544 Quality Passes, sixth-most Kyle Larson (No. 42 ENERGIZER Chevrolet) · One top 10 · Average finish of 8.0 · Average Running Position of 11.3, third-best · Driver Rating of 91.1, 10th-best Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Three wins, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.7 · Average Running Position of 12.3, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 98.1, fourth-best · 233 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.191 mph, ninth-fastest · 3,353 Laps in the Top 15 (68.3%), eighth-most · 509 Quality Passes, 10th-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Joey Logano 8 0 0 1 1 0 21.5 71.9 2 Kevin Harvick 24 1 1 5 9 4 18.8 90.4 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 27 2 1 8 12 2 12.3 92.7 4 Denny Hamlin 15 1 1 3 6 2 16.8 97.4 5 Jimmie Johnson 23 0 3 12 14 2 11.5 104.9 6 Casey Mears 19 0 0 0 0 2 22.5 59.1 7 Clint Bowyer 14 0 0 0 5 2 21.1 83 8 Martin Truex Jr. 16 1 0 2 4 4 20.4 90.1 9 Kasey Kahne 18 2 3 7 9 3 18.6 87.2 10 Greg Biffle 20 1 0 3 10 2 15.7 90.8 11 David Gilliland 13 0 0 0 0 2 26.8 56.6 12 Sam Hornish Jr. 7 0 0 0 0 1 27.1 57.9 13 Michael Annett 1 0 0 0 0 0 21 59.2 14 Austin Dillon 2 0 0 0 0 0 21.5 65.1 15 Aric Almirola 4 0 0 0 1 0 20.5 65.8 16 David Ragan 12 0 0 0 1 1 26.5 57.3 * – Based on last 16 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway (2005 – 2014). Atlanta Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 2 of 36 (03-01-14) Track Size : 1.54-miles Banking/Turn 1 & 2 : 24 degrees Banking/Turn 3 & 4 : 24 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 5 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 5 degrees Frontstretch Length : 2,332 feet Backstretch Length : 1,800 feet Race Length : 325 laps / 500.5 miles Top Driver Ratings at Atlanta Jeff Gordon .............................. 106.0 Jimmie Johnson ........................ 104.9 Carl Edwards ............................ 100.1 Tony Stewart ............................... 98.1 Matt Kenseth .............................. 97.9 Denny Hamlin ............................. 97.4 Dale Earnhardt Jr. ....................... 92.7 Kyle Larson. ............................... 91.1 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (16 total) among active drivers at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet 190.398 mph, 29.118 secs. 08-29-14 2014 race winner : Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet 131.514 mph, (03:55:22), 08-31-14 Track qualifying record: Geoffrey Bodine, Ford 197.478 mph, 28.074 secs. 11-15-97 Track race record: Bobby Labonte, Pontiac 159.904 mph, (03:07:48), 11-16-97 Statistical Advance Atlanta Motor Speedway: History · Originally called Atlanta International Raceway, the track was then a 1.5-mile paved speedway. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta was on July 31, 1960, won by Fireball Roberts from the pole. · The track was re-measured to 1.522 miles in the spring of 1970. · It was renamed Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1990. · The track layout was reversed and the track was re-configured to 1.54 miles between the two races in 1997. Notebook · There have been 107 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Atlanta Motor Speedway since the first race there in 1960. Until 2010 there have been two races per year except 1961, which had three. This year marks the fourth season with only one event. · 552 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway; 367 in more than one. · Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Atlanta with 65. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 41 starts, followed by Joe Nemechek with 38. · Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Atlanta in 1960 with a speed of 133.870 mph. · 48 drivers have Coors Light poles at Atlanta, led by Buddy Baker and Ryan Newman with seven each. · Winning consecutive Coors Light poles has happened eight times at Atlanta, among six drivers. · Ryan Newman holds the record for most consecutive poles at Atlanta with six; spring of 2003 through 2005. · Youngest Atlanta pole winner: Terry Labonte (03/15/1981 – 24 years, 3 months, 27 days). · Oldest Atlanta pole winner: Harry Gant (11/14/1993 – 53 years, 10 months, 4 days). · 43 different NSCS drivers have won at Atlanta Motor Speedway, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt with nine wins. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five. · 11 drivers have posted consecutive wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway: Marvin Panch (1965 sweep), Bobby Allison (1972 sweep), David Pearson (1973 sweep), Richard Petty (1974 fall, 1975 spring), Cale Yarborough (1980 fall, 1981 spring), Bill Elliott (1985 sweep; 1992 sweep), Dale Earnhardt (1989 fall, 1990 spring; 1995 fall, 1996 spring), Bobby Labonte (1997 fall, 1998 spring), Jeff Gordon (1998 fall, 1999 spring), Carl Edwards (2005 sweep), Jimmie Johnson (2007 sweep) · Youngest Atlanta winner: Kyle Busch (03/09/2008 – 22 years, 10 months, 7 days). · Oldest Atlanta winner: Morgan Shepherd (03/20/1993 – 51 years, 5 months, 8 days). · The Wood Brothers and Hendrick Motorsports have the most wins at Atlanta in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 12 each: o Wood Brothers: Cale Yarborough (three), David Pearson (three), Marvin Panch (two), Neil Bonnett (two) A.J. Foyt (one) and Morgan Shepherd (one). o Hendrick Motorsports: Jeff Gordon (five), Jimmie Johnson (three), Darrell Waltrip (one), Jerry Nadeau (one), Kasey Kahne (one) and Ken Schrader (one). o Joe Gibbs Racing has the third most wins at Atlanta with 11. · Nine different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Atlanta; led by Chevrolet with 38 victories; followed by Ford (29), Pontiac (11), Dodge (nine), Mercury (eight), Buick (four), Plymouth (four), Toyota (three) and Oldsmobile (one). · 14 of the 107 (13.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Atlanta have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Kasey Kahne in 2006. · The fifth starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (15) than any other starting position at Atlanta Motor Speedway; the most recent was Jeff Gordon in 2011. · 26 of the 107 (24.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Atlanta have been won from the front row: 14 from the pole and 12 from second-place. · 60 of the 107 (56.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Atlanta have been won from a top-five starting position. · 85 of the 107 (79.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Atlanta have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Seven of the 107 (6.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Atlanta have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Atlanta is 39th, by Bobby Labonte in the fall of 2001. · No driver has swept the weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway across all three NASCAR national series. Two drivers have won in multiple NASCAR national series in the same weekend at Atlanta: Carl Edwards (2005, NSCS/NNS); (fall 2008, NSCS/NNS) and Kyle Busch (spring 2008, NSCS/NCWTS) · Dale Earnhardt and David Pearson lead the series in runner-up finishes at Atlanta with seven each; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five. · Dale Earnhardt leads the series in top-five finishes at Atlanta with 26; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 16. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Atlanta with 33; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 26. · Ryan Newman leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Atlanta with a 7.409. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at 11.522. · Nine of the 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Atlanta Motor Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Kevin Harvick won at Atlanta in his first appearance (2001). Carl Edwards won in his second appearance (2005). · Denny Hamlin competed at Atlanta Motor Speedway 12 times before winning in the spring of 2012; the longest span of any the 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Among the 10 active NSCS Atlanta winners Denny Hamlin (12) is the only driver to have made 10 or more attempts before his first win. · Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Atlanta without visiting Victory Lane at 38; followed by Matt Kenseth with 26. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway was the March 11, 2001 race won by Kevin Harvick over Jeff Gordon with a MOV of 0.006 second. · There have been four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): fall of 2007 (325/329); spring of 2010 (325/341), fall of 2012 (325/327) and 2014 (325/335). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway five times; most recently the fall of 2010. · One active driver has posted his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (9/01/2013). · Two active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career start at Atlanta Motor Speedway: Jeff Gordon (11/15/1992) and Martin Truex Jr. (10/31/2004). · Two active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Atlanta Motor Speedway: Kevin Harvick (3/11/2001) and Carl Edwards (3/20/2005). · Cale Yarborough leads all drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Atlanta with 3,283 laps led in 47 starts. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in laps led at Atlanta with 1,297. · Three female drivers have competed at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie, Shawna Robinson and Danica Patrick. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Janet Guthrie 34 30 3/20/1977 Janet Guthrie 19 16 11/6/1977 Janet Guthrie 23 10 3/19/1978 Shawna Robinson 31 34 3/10/2002 Danica Patrick 23 29 9/2/2012 Danica Patrick 21 21 9/1/2013 Danica Patrick 27 6 8/31/2014 NASCAR in Georgia · There have been 166 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among 12 different tracks in Georgia. Track Name City NSCS Atlanta Motor Speedway Hampton 107 Augusta International Speedway Augusta 12 Lakewood Speedway Atlanta 11 Savannah Speedway Savannah 10 Middle Georgia Raceway Macon 9 Central City Speedway Macon 7 Valdosta 75 Speedway Valdosta 3 Jeffco Speedway Jefferson 2 Oglethorpe Speedway Savannah 2 Augusta International Raceway Augusta 1 Columbus Speedway Columbus 1 Hayloft Speedway Augusta 1 · 180 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Georgia; 15 have won at least once in one of NASCAR’s national series. · 11 of the 178 have posted at least one victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. · Bill Elliott (five wins) is the only Georgia native to have won at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. MORE: Driver NSCS NXS NCWTS Bill Elliott 44 1 0 Tim Flock 39 0 0 Jack Smith 21 0 0 Fonty Flock 19 0 0 Bob Flock 4 0 0 Frank Mundy 3 0 0 David Ragan 2 2 0 Gober Sosebee 2 0 0 Harold Kite 1
Trailblazer becomes first African-American inducted into NASCAR Hall Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: See the NASCAR Hall of Fame class by class CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Wendell Scott often broadcast his do-it-yourself work ethic on his cars, which frequently sported hand-painted letters to read: "Mechanic: Me!" Though Scott's automotive know-how was largely self-made, he usually had an audience of his seven children watching, begging to help the family cause within their Danville, Virginia shop. Scott would often shoo his kids out, telling them to go play elsewhere. But for young Deborah Scott, she yearned to be in her father's racing shop just a little while longer. "I loved it when he would be on the creeper under the car working and he needed a tool," she recalled. "… It grew on me. I started liking to get dirty." Now married as Deborah Scott Davis, 64, she was part of a vocal contingent of friends and family with Danville ties witnessing her father's induction Friday evening as part of the 2015 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. On a night filled with stories pulled from NASCAR lore, Davis' remembrances from her youth stood out. As she joined her siblings to receive a proclamation from the town's mayor late Friday night, her brother Frank remarked that Davis deserved credit as likely the best mechanic of the bunch. His comment came without exaggeration -- Davis transferred a lifetime of automotive knowledge handed down from her father into a long career building cars for Ford Motor Company, first at an assembly plant in the Atlanta area and now near her Louisville, Kentucky home. Davis still has fond memories of those days growing up, watching her father do more with less. And like her father, who died in 1990, she shouldered many responsibilities for the family-run race team, helping as a mechanic's assistant, the team's scorekeeper and -- when she was old enough to get her driver's license -- a parts runner. Davis said some of the most gratifying help she offered the family racing effort was as the official scorekeeper, back in the old-school days before electronic timing and scoring was even a dream. Back then, one person with a score sheet was assigned to each car. Each score sheet had a number of small boxes for each lap, and the scorekeeper dutifully marked the time from the scorer's clock in each numbered box whenever their car came past. By Davis' estimation, she only missed one lap in her time as scorekeeper, which ended only when she left for college. That lap was early in the 1964 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , when a multi-car crash triggered a massive fire that eventually claimed the life of Fireball Roberts , a fellow member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Scoring Roberts' car that day was his daughter, Pamela, who Davis -- also a teenager at the time -- counted among her best friends. "We sat there and were watching our fathers, and her dad didn't come around," Davis recalled, "and we saw this black, rolling smoke behind us and when we turned back to look on the backstretch, I missed my dad going by. Her dad couldn't come by." Because events on the larger speedways of the era used backup scorers, Scott's missed lap was restored and he remained credited with a ninth-place finish. "I didn't cost him any positions or any money," Davis said, "but that was one of the incidents where I promised never, no matter what happened, I would keep my attention." MORE: Best photos from the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction " Scott among five inductees Davis said the children wouldn't travel to every race, mostly to those close enough to the family's home and on dates that wouldn't interfere with their school work. That's why, she said, none of them were present when Scott posted his only victory in NASCAR's top division on a school night -- Sunday, Dec. 1, 1963 at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida. "Of course, we all wish we had been," Davis said. "Of all the races, we weren't there." When Scott came home as a winner, he received a warm welcome. But the politics of the time wouldn't allow an African-American driver a celebration with the checkered flag or the trophy queen, tempering the family's excitement. Scott was eventually credited with completing 202 laps in the scheduled 200-lap race, but that achievement wasn't recognized on that Sunday night in Jacksonville. "Mixed emotions because here it was, he had won, but not in the right honorable way that he should've been able to celebrate because as you know, he knew he was winning the race," Davis said. "He knew when he took the lead and how many more laps there were to go and as history tells it now, correctly, yes, he did go two laps extra to win the race and still not receive the honor at that time." Race officials initially credited runner-up Buck Baker with the victory, claiming that a scoring error had taken place. If Davis had been there, she said, there would have been no dispute. "They couldn't have gotten around me," she said. "I really don't believe they could have gotten around me." Davis' expertise with a wrench extended beyond helping on the race car. Frank Scott recalled a trip to Michigan International Speedway in the 1960s, traveling with his father, his sister and brother Wendell Jr. -- four of them on the single bench seat -- when the truck hauling the race car broke down. Wendell Sr. and Jr. hitchhiked to the nearest township to get parts, leaving Frank and his sister to prepare the engine for the repairs. "Daddy said to have the motor torn down by the time he got back," Frank Scott said. "Deborah got up under the hood, and I was breaking the bolts to loosen them and she would take them out. She was like a little grease monkey, and that kind of led her into her adult life when she joined the automotive division working for Ford in Atlanta. Even right then, she started cutting her teeth. She had a mechanical instinct and didn't mind getting grease up under her nails." Friday night in Charlotte, the Scott family had the largest delegation of supporters of any of the five inductees, with Frank Scott estimating the number to be "in excess of 100" and from all over the country. For Deborah Scott Davis, the wait to hear her father's name called was a long time coming, but one made all the more satisfying because her mother, Mary, who could not attend the induction because of her health, was able to hear it as well. "Deservingly so," Davis said. "I think the time aspect, I think our friends and some of the fans didn't understand why he wouldn't be in the first class, the second class -- I'm OK with the timing of it. Just in the nick of time, I feel like, while our mom is still here. Couldn't have happened in a better year. "When the announcement was made, it just automatically lifted me out of the chair. Yes, finally -- whew! Years before, you can't be but so sad. At least he's nominated, at least he's getting closer and closer, and then it happened. It means so, so much."
Both drivers inducted posthumously into the NASCAR Hall of Fame
NASCAR Hall of Famers think new format has been great, added excitement RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace each won championships at NASCAR's highest level under a season-long cumulative points system, years before the advent of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. This year's format is a drastic change from the system of their heyday, with eliminations, rewards for winning and consistency all part of the equation. Even though the current complexion of the Chase represents a dramatic shift, both retired drivers said they'd have welcomed a shot at the title under this year's revised rules. "I would've loved to have been a part of it," Jarrett said. "I think all your champions will tell you the reason they're champions is because of how they thrive and handle pressure-packed situations, and I think we're seeing exactly that. I get ramped up doing the telecasts so I can't imagine what it would've been like driving." The two NASCAR Hall of Famers swapped stories and offered their thoughts about the state of the sport in a rollicking half-hour news conference Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway , site of the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN). Both former drivers will share in calling the championship finale in their roles as TV analysts. Wallace and Jarrett each won one title in NASCAR's premier series a decade apart, with Wallace reigning in 1989 and Jarrett's crowning moment coming in 1999. For selfish reasons, Wallace said he would have preferred if the idea had been hatched for the new-look Chase during his racing career. "For me, they told me if we'd had this format while I was driving, I'd have won three championships with the amount of wins I've had," Wallace said. "So yeah, I like this a lot. I think it's an exciting series with what they're doing now." Wallace said several fellow members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame would have adapted well to the new format, reeling off the names of Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Sr. as drivers who relied on a healthy mix of winning plus consistency. Jarrett added the name of NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Terry Labonte to the list, but went back even further to marvel at what Hall of Famers Fireball Roberts or Junior Johnson could have accomplished under Chase rules. "I think that it would've fit all different eras if we had this type of format in those times," Jarrett said. Both agreed that the new format has increased the intensity of the racing this season, some of which has spilled over to post-race confrontations. Jarrett said that some of those same issues cropped up during his driving days, but that the spotlight's glare wasn't as wide as today's, with social media and traditional media expanding the number of eyes focused on the sport. Wallace pointed to Ryan Newman brushing aside rookie Kyle Larson last weekend as an instance of the hard-edged racing that the new Chase format has created. While some of the extracurriculars go over the line and result in punishment, Wallace said there's still a balance in what qualifies as acceptable and what isn't. "It has changed a little bit, but I think the drivers being able to get out there and have a lot of contact and not being penalized for it is a good thing nowadays," Wallace said. "The fighting, the beating each other up -- I'm not a big fan of that. I do like controversy and I do like excitement, and I think that was OK to tolerate. Everybody's going to have a different approach." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
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
Driver nabs award for 12th straight year DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr ., winner of four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2014 and eighth overall in the final points standings, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Sprint NMPA Most Popular Driver award for the series. It is the 12th consecutive year that Earnhardt Jr., 40, has won the award. In addition to the trophy he received during Friday evening's season-ending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony at the Wynn Las Vegas, Earnhardt will collect a check for $10,000 earmarked for the charity of his choice. "Even after all these years, I never have an assumption that I have won it," Earnhardt Jr. said after receiving the award. "You just never know. I never anticipated having the support that we have. When I began racing, I knew of my father's support, he had a ton of fans. … I didn't assume or anticipate the following that we have, even today it really is just overwhelming. It really is hard to believe and hard to fathom that we continue to win this award; this was a good year because of the victories we were able to deliver on the race track but all those years when we weren't … it was very difficult to accept the award because I felt we hadn't performed. But our fans stood behind us. It just says a lot about their loyalty." In his speech, accepting the award, Earnhardt Jr. thanked the fans numerous times. And Junior shared an interesting fact about the speech, he didn't use the teleprompter. "It was the first time I gave my speech without reading it from the teleprompter or a piece of paper so I hope my remarks came across well because I genuinely do appreciate all the efforts the fans put in. "I was able to literally witness it in the palm of my hand all year long. The fans were up all day every day voting … that was the most impressive thing." Earnhardt Jr. joined Twitter after his Daytona 500 win this year and he got to converse with his fans in a whole new way this season. "People ask me all the time about what the most positive thing about being on Twitter this year was and I never could give them my honest opinion because I hadn't won the award, but having won it tonight, seeing those votes every day, seeing that commitment and determination was really inspiring knowing that we had that kind of support. They were up before I was every day, going to town on that … computer. It really meant a lot to me." And that fan support was there for Junior on social media, in good times and bad. "I got to know my fans really in a whole new way this year. We got to talk a lot on social media. When we lost we talked, when we won we talked and that was a great experience for me as well, and all-around an eye-opener to make that connection that wasn't there before." Completing the top 10 in total votes for this year's award were (listed alphabetically): Carl Edwards , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Matt Kenseth , Brad Keselowski , Danica Patrick , Tony Stewart and Josh Wise . The MPD award, sponsored by Sprint and overseen by the National Motorsports Press Association, is the only NASCAR award determined solely by fan vote. It has been awarded annually since 1953. Beginning in July, fans were able to vote once daily by visiting www.sprint.com/speed. Those who chose to share their votes via social media (Facebook, Twitter) were allowed one additional vote during each 24-hour window. Additionally, fans were able to cast votes for their favorite driver by visiting the Sprint Experience at the track during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekends throughout the year. Bill Elliott holds the record for most MPD awards, winning the fan vote 16 times during a career that spanned 37 years. Previous MPD Winners Year, recipient 2014, Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2013, Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2012, Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2011, Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2010, Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2009, Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2008, Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2007, Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2006, Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2005, Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2004, Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2003, Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2002, Bill Elliott 2001, Dale Earnhardt 2000, Bill Elliott 1999, Bill Elliott 1998, Bill Elliott 1997, Bill Elliott 1996, Bill Elliott 1995, Bill Elliott 1994, Bill Elliott 1993, Bill Elliott 1992, Bill Elliott 1991, Bill Elliott 1990, Darrell Waltrip 1989, Darrell Waltrip 1988, Bill Elliott 1987, Bill Elliott 1986, Bill Elliott 1985, Bill Elliott 1984, Bill Elliott 1983, Bobby Allison 1982, Bobby Allison 1981, Bobby Allison 1980, David Pearson 1979, David Pearson 1978, Richard Petty 1977, Richard Petty 1976, Richard Petty 1975, Richard Petty 1974, Richard Petty 1973, Bobby Allison 1972, Bobby Allison 1971, Bobby Allison 1970, Richard Petty 1969, Bobby Isaac 1968, Richard Petty 1967, Cale Yarborough 1966, Darel Dieringer 1965, Fred Lorenzen 1964, Richard Petty 1963, Fred Lorenzen 1962, Richard Petty 1961, Joe Weatherly 1960, Rex White 1959, Jack Smith 1958, Glen Wood 1957, Fireball Roberts 1956, Curtis Turner 1955, Tim Flock 1954, Lee Petty 1953, Lee Petty MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule