Atlanta Motor Speedway gives Jeff Gordon's kids Ella and Leo Gordon a new car in honor of Jeff's career.
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
Hendrick Motorsports driver won at Atlanta in '14 to lock up Chase spot Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live HAMPTON, Ga. – Last year, Kasey Kahne used a win at Atlanta Motor Speedway to secure one of the 16 available positions in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Six months later, the Hendrick Motorsports driver is hoping for similar results. A win in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (FOX, 1 p.m. ET) brings with it no guarantees, but it certainly would put the 34-year-old in a much less stressful situation. Kahne was the final driver to secure a Chase spot by virtue of a victory here last August, however a schedule change now finds the 1.54-mile track hosting the season's second stop. A win would go a long way toward easing his team’s concerns as the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season begins to pick up steam. "It would be a lot better and a lot less stress, but it is what it is," Kahne said Friday as teams began preparations for Sunday's race. "We'll take it any way we can." There are goals this year that the '14 effort failed to accomplish, he said. Winning and running up front more often for starters. Better results in practice and better qualifying results as well. "It all starts this weekend," Kahne said. "It would be great to come off with a win right away … and then just go from there. The end of the '14 season also signaled the end of the Kahne/Kenny Francis driver/crew chief pairing. The two had worked together, with two brief exceptions in '07 (due to Francis' suspension) and '10, for a stretch of more than 300 races from the 2005 season finale at Homestead through '14. They have 17 wins in their respective positions, with 16 coming while working together. Francis earned his first win as crew chief with former driver Jeremy Mayfield; Kahne went to the winner's circle for the first time with Tommy Baldwin Jr. calling the shots. Today, Francis oversees car design and development as the vehicle technical director for Hendrick Motorsports. Keith Rodden, crew chief for Jamie McMurray last season at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, returned to the HMS fold to replace Francis on the No. 5 team. He and Kahne have a history. "I think the first time he was my engineer was 2004 in the XFINITY Series," Kahne said of Rodden, "and we have kind of been on and off together ever since. "There is a lot more to it than just the communication side. It's kind of the preparation at the shop throughout the winter, how the guys look at things and how our cars are built. He's done a really good job with all that stuff." Kahne, who agreed to a three-year contract extension last November, joined HMS in April of 2010 but didn't officially make the move until 2012. Five wins have come since the move and he is a three-time winner at Atlanta. 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
Kevin Harvick and others comment on a wild race in Loudon, and how they were able to survive the carnage.
Drivers Chase Elliott, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Elliott Sadler help unveil the new NASCAR XFINITY Series championship trophy.
Highlighted by renewal of longtime sponsors, addition of new brand to the stable of partners
Driver scores third straight series win at 1.54-mile track RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings HAMPTON, Ga.—If you had to pick one driver to knock Joey Logano off his pedestal at Atlanta Motor Speedway, you couldn't make a better choice than Kevin Harvick. Holding off Logano after a restart on Lap 140 of 163, Harvick won Saturday's Hisense 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race, ending a success streak that saw Logano beat Harvick for the win in the Daytona 500 and edge Harvick for the Coors Light Pole for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (1 p.m. ET on FOX) at AMS. The victory was Harvick's third straight at Atlanta and fourth overall. He won for the 45th time in the XFINITY Series, third most all-time. It was also the first victory for Dave Elenz as a crew chief. After Logano developed a left rear wheel vibration during the final run, Harvick pulled away and crossed the finish line 1.208 seconds ahead of Logano, who finished second at Atlanta for the second straight season. Ty Dillon came home third, followed by Chris Buescher and defending series champion Chase Elliott, who pushed Harvick ahead of Logano on the Lap 140 restart. "I knew I needed to take off," Harvick said of the final run. "I thought his car was a little bit better as we got to about lap 20 (of a fuel run). He started reeling us in from that point on. "All in all, these guys on this Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet did a great job today. Awesome pit stops all day long, and we were able to make up some ground on that last pit stop (under caution on Lap 136)." Logano had to cope with the outside lane on the final restart, after Harvick chose the inside as the prerogative of the leader. "We got beat off pit road, but we had a decent restart from the outside lane—the outside is so tough—I thought if I could get door-to-door with him and get him loose underneath me, but the 9 (Elliott) was able to push him out ahead. "At that point, I was just trying to move around, different lanes, trying to find something for some speed. I was starting to catch him, and then I just had this huge vibration. At that point, I was just trying to survive and hoping the left rear didn't pass me." Logano started from the pole and dominated the race until the first round of green-flag pit stops. Bringing the No. 22 Ford to pit road as the lead on Lap 50, Logano had issues on the right front and spent a couple of extra seconds in his stall. Logano's issues played into the hands of Harvick, who had entered pit road three laps earlier running five seconds behind Logano. But Harvick's three-lap advantage on new tires, coupled with Logano's snafu on pit road, put the No. 88 Chevrolet out front when the round of pit stops cycled through. Harvick maintained the top spot, with Logano in pursuit roughly one second behind, until NASCAR called the second caution of the race, for debris in Turn 3 on Lap 86, just in time for the nine cars on the lead lap to come to pit road for four new tires and fuel. Harvick surged ahead from the top lane after the subsequently restart on Lap 91 and quickly rebuilt his one-second lead over Logano. Logano, however, soon began chipping away at Harvick's lead, first by hundredths of a second, later by tenths. On Lap 126, Logano drove high into Turn 1, gained momentum and pulled up near Harvick's bumper as the cars completed the circuit. Harvick took the high line into the first corner on Lap 127, but Logano steered to the inside and made the pass for the lead off Turn 2. But fluid on the backstretch slowed the field for the third time on lap 134, and Harvick beat Logano off pit road and retook the lead after yellow-flag stops on Lap 136. "That pit stop is what won this race," Harvick said. "Joey probably had a better car the second half of the run. It really played out for us there at the end, as we were able to have that short run and take off." 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
Kennedy was the only driver to log lap in final round RELATED: Full race lineup Ben Kennedy won the Keystone Light Pole Award on Saturday for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (5:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). This is the Red Horse Racing driver's first pole award at Atlanta and the first of his Camping World Truck Series career. Kennedy was the only driver who made it to the start/finish line in time to log a lap in the third round of qualifying. Initially, Brad Keselowski was ruled to have started his lap -- which was quicker than Kennedy's -- and was announced as the pole winner before the reversal came later in the afternoon. Lining up next to Kennedy on the front row is Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Erik Jones Cameron Hayley, Daniel Suarez and John Wes Townley round out the top-five starters. Last week's winner at Daytona, Tyler Reddick, qualified 11th. Matt Crafton, the defending Camping World Truck Series champion, will line up 15th. 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
Jones, Hayley also post top speeds Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: See full practice results HAMPTON, Ga. -- After propelling his No. 29 Toyota at 178.695 mph around Atlanta Motor Speedway, BK Racing team owner Brad Keselowski soared to the top of the leaderboard during Friday's final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice for the Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 (Saturday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET, FS1). Kyle Busch Motorsports' Erik Jones came in second, circling the Georgia track at 178.677 mph in his No. 4 Toyota. ThorSport Racing's Cameron Hayley made a late run during the session, ultimately propelling his No. 13 ride to third-fastest on the board with a top speed of 178.482 mph. Kyle Busch Motorsports' Daniel Suarez and Athenian Motorsports' John Wes Townley rounded out the top five, recording high speeds of 178.040 mph and 177.903 mph, respectively. Halfway through the session, Ray Black Jr. scraped the wall in Turn 2 in his No. 07 Team Scuba Chevrolet. Cody Ware followed up the incident with a loss of power in his No. 50 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet, which brought out the caution flag for the second time during the two-hour session. The yellow flag was displayed earlier in practice for debris. Black and Ware ended up with 21st and 25th-place rankings on the leaderboard, respectively. The Camping World Truck Series is back on the track on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 10:40 a.m. for Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, with coverage on FOX Sports 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
Matt Kenseth talks about being ready to work with new team and crew members and what the new rules package means for NASCAR.