The top 5 drivers along with an upset Dale Earnhardt Jr. give post-race comments.
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
Kenseth paces final Sprint Cup practice; Logano led day's first session RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Sprint Cup Series practice 3 " Results Matt Kenseth topped Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' final practice in advance of Sunday's Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Still searching for his first win of 2014, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver rounded the track at a high speed of 188.251 mph. Coming in second-fastest was Team Penske driver Joey Logano at 187.869 mph. Logano led Saturday's opening practice session. Denny Hamlin (187.114 mph), Jeff Gordon (186.956 mph) and Jimmie Johnson (186.855 mph) completed the top five for the final session. Coors Light Pole Award winner Kevin Harvick was 23rd-fastest after posting a speed of 183.473 mph on his first of 41 laps. Making his Sprint Cup Series debut this weekend, Ty Dillon came in as 28th-fastest in the closing session (182.362 mph). The Sprint Cup Series will return to the track Sunday for the Oral-B USA 500 at 7:30 p.m. ET with TV coverage on ESPN. Sprint Cup Series practice 2 " Results Joey Logano topped the speed charts in the 50-minute practice session of Sprint Cup Series practice for the Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Practice was called five minutes early due to rain. Logano's opening lap of 189.351 mph was good to lead the entire practice. The three-time winner in 2014 has shown plenty of speed all year long. Coors Light Pole Award winner Kevin Harvick placed second in the session with a fast lap of 188.328 mph. Harvick earned his sixth Coors Light Pole Award of 2014 and the 12th of his career on Friday night. Dale Earnhardt Jr. led the way for a Hendrick Motorsports contingent that placed all four of its cars in the top 11 of practice. Earnhardt ran a lap of 187.843 mph, which placed him third overall. Future Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin (187.405 mph) and Carl Edwards (187.215 mph) rounded out the top five. Edwards led Friday's lone practice session with a fast lap of 192.855 mph. Greg Biffle , Edwards' current teammate at Roush Fenway Racing , placed sixth in the session. Tony Stewart , who was participating in just his second practice since return to the track, after a three-race absence finished in 15th place for the session. Brad Keselowski , who will start on the front row with Harvick, placed 26th in the session. He was 18th in the opening practice on Friday. Camping World Truck Series practice 2 " Results Andrew Ranger topped the final practice for the Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park . Ranger's lap of 109.614 mph set the pace in the final 85-minute practice session. Ranger is making his first career Camping World Truck Series start this weekend. The 27-year-old Quebec native is a regular in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and has two wins in eight events on that circuit this season. Ranger does have 17 Nationwide Series starts and one Sprint Cup Series start to his name. German Quiroga Jr. , who topped the charts in the opening practice, placed second in this session with a speed of 109.597 mph. Cole Custer was third with a speed of 109.526 mph. Ryan Blaney and Gray Gaulding rounded out the top five. Defending series champion Matt Crafton placed seventh in the session. Darrell Wallace Jr. , a two-time winner this season, finished ninth. Points leader Johnny Sauter placed 10th in the session. There was a brief caution during the session for debris in Turn 5. Camping World Truck Series practice 1 " Results German Quiroga Jr. used his final lap of opening practice to take the top spot in the session for the Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park . Quiroga led the way with a fast lap of 108.967 mph. Brennan Newberry was second on the speed chart with a lap of 108.492 mph. Road course specialist Alex Tagliani , who is making his first Truck Series start, placed third with a lap of 108.406 mph. Gray Gaulding and Jeb Burton rounded out the top five. Points leader Johnny Sauter finished 13th in the session, while his ThorSport Racing teammate and defending series champion Matt Crafton placed 11th. NASCAR Next alumnus Cameron Hayley placed 14th. Hayley is making his first Truck Series start in the No. 32 for Turner Scott Motorsports. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano start on the front row for the Pure Michigan 400