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
Last-minute sub for Kyle Larson finishes 16th at Martinsville Speedway Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Kyle Larson was hours away from Martinsville Speedway on Sunday afternoon, staying in a Charlotte medical facility while Regan Smith filled in as an 11th-hour substitute in the No. 42 Chevrolet he usually drives. That doesn't mean he wasn't tuned in to how his Chip Ganassi Racing outfit was doing, leading to an entertaining back-and-forth over the team radio communications during pace laps. "We know you're listening, Kyle. We're going to get one for you." "He just texted me to say 'I'm listening.' " "We can't get away with anything." With their talented driver eavesdropping the day after he fainted at an autograph session, Smith wheeled Ganassi's No. 42 to a solid 16th-place finish in the STP 500 , rallying from a mid-race spin and a last-place starting spot. Ganassi officials contacted the NASCAR XFINITY Series regular on Saturday night, shortly after Larson was transported to a local hospital for tests, to inquire about his availability. When Smith awoke at 5:30 a.m. ET, he was already tapped for substitute detail. "I definitely appreciated them calling me in that situation," Smith said. "I hate it for Kyle -- he's a friend and a competitor, so you don't ever want to see that happen. I know it probably tore him up today." On such short notice, the makeshift accommodations -- Smith was fitted using CGR teammate Jamie McMurray 's seat as a model, and he borrowed a crew member uniform for his firesuit -- took some getting used to. He was forced to drop to the rear of the field from the seventh starting position that Larson earned in Friday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying because of the driver change, making his battle an uphill one before the green flag ever unfurled. But Smith made progress, getting to the fringes of the top 10 until he spun after a nudge from Kurt Busch in the 286th of 500 laps during a traffic jam. "It was just a check-up, a chain-reaction deal and by the time it got back to me, I hit the car in front of me and whoever was behind me hit me even harder," Smith said. "It's typical Martinsville. We saw it happening all day. Sometimes it's such a big check-up that you can't do anything about it. It's just a racing deal." The contact dropped him from 17th to 27th, last on the lead lap, for the next restart, but Smith still found momentum that kept him on the leader's pace. "We just fought hard all day long, stayed on the lead lap. That was a big goal, starting where we did," Smith said. "It's tough sometimes to stay on that lead lap here. I thought the car was a little better than where we finished at the end. I got hung on the last restart on the outside and then couldn't get through some of the traffic as quick as I needed to. But nonetheless, good day for sitting at the house last night, thinking I wasn't going to be doing anything." In the span of the last 21 Sprint Cup races dating back to last August, Smith has subbed in for three teams -- the No. 14 and 41 cars from Stewart-Haas Racing and Sunday's ride in the No. 42. The effort wasn't lost on crew chief Chris Heroy, who applauded Smith's versatility in running a largely clean race at one of the sport's roughest tracks. "I was really impressed," Heroy said. "To jump in cold like that and be able to run solid in the top 15 is a real credit. We struggled from time to time with Kyle here, with Juan here, so it's a nice run for our program, and I can't say enough about what a great job he did." Heroy said he spoke to Larson on Sunday morning, saying that his evaluations were going well thus far. "He's in good spirits," Heroy said. "He's passing all his tests. He's an incredible student down there, so I'm going to go check on him right now and drive back to Charlotte." 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
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A stats-based look ahead as the series comes back East to Martinsville Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-- Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia going into the STP 500 on March 29 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). MARTINSVILLE-SPECIFIC STATS Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota) · Four top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 12.1 · Average Running Position of 12.1, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 95.0, seventh-best · 296 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.276 mph, sixth-fastest · 6,586 Laps in the Top 15 (72.9%), seventh-most · 613 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), sixth-most Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet) · One win, 12 top fives, 17 top 10s · Average finish of 12.4 · Average Running Position of 10.6, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 101.2, fourth-best · 523 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Series-high 1,181 Green Flag Passes · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.386 mph, fourth-fastest · 7,860 Laps in the Top 15 (78.3%), third-most · 719 Quality Passes, second-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet) · Eight wins, 28 top fives, 35 top 10s; seven poles · Average finish of 6.8 · Series-best Average Running Position of 6.6 · Driver Rating of 119.8, second-best · Series-high 1,105 Fastest Laps Run · 1,000 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.689 mph, second-fastest · 8,848 Laps in the Top 15 (88.2%), second-most · Series-high 754 Quality Passes Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) · Four wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 8.7 · Average Running Position of 8.8, third-best · Driver Rating of 110.1, third-best · 612 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.473 mph, third-fastest · 7,503 Laps in the Top 15 (83.1%), fourth-most · 659 Quality Passes, fifth-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser / Jimmy John's Chevrolet) · One win, three top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 16.4 · Average Running Position of 14.4, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 91.8, eighth-best · 255 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 1,016 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.130 mph, eighth-fastest · 6,475 Laps in the Top 15 (64.5%), eighth-most · 593 Quality Passes, seventh-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Eight wins, 18 top fives, 22 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 6.2 · Average Running Position of 6.8, second-best · Series-best Driver Rating of 122.5 · 1,041 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 91.700 mph · Series-high 8,932 Laps in the Top 15 (89.0%) · 689 Quality Passes, third-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Four top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 14.7 · Average Running Position of 15.7, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 84.9, 12th-best · 178 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 1,097 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.043 mph, 11th-fastest · 5,235 Laps in the Top 15 (52.2%), 12th-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 14.0 · Average Running Position of 15.1, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 85.1, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.036 mph, 12th-fastest Jamie McMurray (No. 1 CESSNA Chevrolet) · One top five, 12 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.3 · Driver Rating of 85.1, 11th-best · 195 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.060 mph, 10th-fastest · 5,471 Laps in the Top 15 (54.5%), 10th-most · 452 Quality Passes, 12th-most Ryan Newman (No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet) · One win, eight top fives, 12 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 15.0 · Average Running Position of 15.0, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 87.4, ninth-best · 1,071 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · 5,843 Laps in the Top 15 (58.2%), ninth-most · 568 Quality Passes, ninth-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Code 3 Associates / Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Three wins, 10 top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 13.6 · Average Running Position of 11.2, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 97.6, fifth-best · 397 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.253 mph, seventh-fastest · 6,711 Laps in the Top 15 (70.4%), sixth-most · 471 Quality Passes, 10th-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Martinsville Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 27 0 1 3 12 1 16.4 91.8 2 Joey Logano 12 0 0 3 4 0 14.0 85.1 3 Martin Truex Jr . 18 0 0 2 4 2 23.1 68.7 4 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 30 0 1 12 17 2 12.4 101.2 5 Brad Keselowski 10 0 0 1 5 0 15.2 83.4 6 Ryan Newman 26 3 1 8 12 2 15.0 87.4 7 Jimmie Johnson 26 3 8 18 22 1 6.2 122.5 8 Kasey Kahne 22 1 0 3 4 5 21.1 76.4 9 Paul Menard 15 0 0 0 1 1 20.5 63.4 10 Aric Almirola 12 0 0 1 3 3 23.8 66.0 11 AJ Allmendinger 13 0 0 1 3 1 19.7 72.2 12 Casey Mears 23 0 0 0 3 2 23.5 64.0 13 Matt Kenseth 30 0 0 4 11 2 14.7 84.9 14 Denny Hamlin 18 3 4 9 14 1 8.7 110.1 15 David Ragan 17 0 0 0 2 1 22.0 64.5 16 Jamie McMurray 24 2 0 1 12 2 17.3 85.1 * – Based on last 20 races at Martinsville Speedway (2005 – 2014). Martinsville Speedway Data Season Race #: 6 of 36 (03-29-15) Track Size : 0.526-mile Banking/Turn 1 & 2 : 12 degrees Banking/Turn 3 & 4 : 12 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 0 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 0 degrees Frontstretch Length : 800 feet Backstretch Length : 800 feet Race Length : 500 laps / 263 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Martinsville Jimmie Johnson ........................ 122.5 Jeff Gordon .............................. 119.8 Denny Hamlin ............................ 110.1 Dale Earnhardt Jr . ..................... 101.2 Tony Stewart ............................... 97.6 Kyle Busch ................................. 96.2 Clint Bowyer ............................... 95.0 Kevin Harvick .............................. 91.8 Ryan Newman ............................. 87.4 Joey Logano .............................. 85.1 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (20 total) among active drivers at Martinsville Speedway . Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Kyle Busch , Toyota 99.674 mph, 18.998 secs. 03-28-14 2014 race winner : Kurt Busch , Chevrolet 72.176 mph, (03:38:38), 03-30-14 Track qualifying record: Jamie McMurray , Chevrolet 99.905 mph, 18.954 secs. 10-24-14 Track race record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 82.223 mph, (3:11:55), 09-22-96 Martinsville Speedway : History · Opened in September 1947 by H. Clay Earles , Martinsville, originally a dirt track, is one of the oldest continuously-operating race tracks in the United States. · The first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville was on July 4, 1948. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was Sept. 25, 1949. · The track was paved in 1955. · The first 500 -lap event at Martinsville was in 1956. · Concrete corners were added atop asphalt in 1976. Notebook · There have been 132 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway , one in the inaugural year and two races per year since 1950. · 602 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville; 380 in more than one. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty has the all-time most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville with 67; Jeff Gordon has the most starts among active drivers with 44. · Curtis Turner won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Martinsville Speedway in 1949. · 58 drivers have Coors Light poles at Martinsville, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with eight; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven. · 12 drivers have won two or more consecutive Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway . Four of the 12 have won three consecutive poles at Martinsville: Glen Wood (Fall of 1959 and 1960 sweep); Darrell Waltrip (1979 sweep and spring 1980); Mark Martin (fall of 1990 and 1991 sweep); Jeff Gordon (2003 sweep and spring 2004). · Youngest Martinsville pole winner: Ricky Rudd (4/26/1981 – 24 years, 7 months, 14 days). · Oldest Martinsville pole winner: Morgan Shepherd (4/26/1987 – 45 years, 6 months, 14 days). · 48 different drivers have won at Martinsville Speedway , led by Richard Petty with 15; Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon lead the series among active drivers with eight wins each. · 24 drivers have multiple wins at Martinsville Speedway only five active drivers have multiple wins: Jimmie Johnson (eight), Jeff Gordon (eight), Denny Hamlin (four), Tony Stewart (three) and Kurt Busch (two). · Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 22. · 21 of 132 races (15.9%) at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; seven of those 21 wins came from active drivers: Tony Stewart (2000), Jeff Gordon (2003 twice), Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2012, spring 2013) and Denny Hamlin (2010). · The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Martinsville producing more wins (21) than any other starting position. · 36 of the 132 (27.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the front row: 21 from the pole and 15 from second-place. · 95 of the 132 (71.9%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Seven of the 132 (5.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20 – including both races last season. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 36th, by Kurt Busch in the fall of 2002. · Youngest Martinsville winner: Richard Petty (04/10/1960 – 22 years, 9 months, 8 days). · Oldest Martinsville winner: Harry Gant (09/22/1991 – 51 years, 8 months, 12 days). · NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes at Martinsville Speedway with seven; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five, followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson with four. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-five finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 30; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 28, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 18. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 37; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 35, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 22. · Jeff Gordon leads active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Martinsville Speedway with a 7.318. Denny Hamlin (9. 500 ) and Ryan Newman (9.654) are the only other active drivers with an average starting position at Martinsville inside the top 10. · Three active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top 10 at Martinsville: Jimmie Johnson (6.231), Jeff Gordon (6.841) and Denny Hamlin (8.722). · There have been five NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Martinsville Speedway : fall 2007 ( 500 /506), fall 2008 ( 500 /504), fall 2009 ( 500 /501), spring 2010 ( 500 /508), and spring 2012 ( 500 /515). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions eight times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway ; the most recent was the fall race of 2011. · Jeff Gordon has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway without a DNF (44). · Tony Stewart (4/18/1999) and Scott Riggs (4/10/2005) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway . · Mike Bliss (09/27/1998), Travis Kvapil (10/24/2004) and Michael McDowell (3/30/2008) are active drivers that made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Martinsville Speedway . · 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Martinsville Speedway . Fred Lorenzen won four NSCS races straight (the most) from the fall of 1963 through the spring of 1965. Jimmie Johnson is the most recent driver to win consecutive races (Fall of 2012 / Spring of 2013) at Martinsville. · All eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Martinsville Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Tony Stewart won at Martinsville (2000) with the fewest previous appearances (three). · Ryan Newman competed at Martinsville Speedway 20 times before winning in the spring of 2012; the longest span of any the eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Two active drivers have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Martinsville Speedway : Kevin Harvick (19) and Ryan Newman (20). · Chevrolet leads series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 54 victories – including the last eight consecutive races. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway is the April 1, 2007 race won by Jimmie Johnson with a MOV of 0.065 second. · Danica Patrick is the only female driver to compete at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Below are Patrick’s stats at Martinsville. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Driver Rating Date Danica Patrick 32 12 72.6 4/7/2013 Danica Patrick 41 17 64.7 10/27/2013 Danica Patrick 10 32 52.4 3/30/2014 Danica Patrick 30 34 61.3 10/26/2014 · Seven car numbers have produced five or more Martinsville Speedway NSCS wins: Car Number – Drivers – (Years) o No. 43 – Richard Petty (1960, ’62, ’63, ’67 sweep, ’68, ’69 sweep, ’70, ’71, ’72 sweep, ’73, ’75 and ’79); John Andretti (1999) o No. 11 – Cale Yarborough (1974, ’76, ’77 sweep, ‘78); Darrell Waltrip (1981, ’82, ’83, ’84); Geoff Bodine (1990 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2008, ’09, ’10 sweep) o No . 28 – Fred Lorenzen (1961, ’63, ’64 sweep, ‘65 and ‘66); Buddy Baker (1979); Ernie Irvan (1993). o No . 2 – Dale Earnhardt (1980); Rusty Wallace (1993, ‘94 sweep, ’95, ’96 an
Three-time Sprint Cup champion has missed past three races MORE: NASCAR statement on Tony Stewart's return RELATED: Full coverage of Tony Stewart incident Tony Stewart will return this weekend in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and make his first Sprint Cup start since Pocono Raceway on Aug. 3. Stewart will speak to the media at 1 p.m. ET at the infield media center at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He will be joined by Stewart-Haas Racing Executive Vice President Brett Frood. That availability will be streamed live on NASCAR.com . In a statement, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said: "Tony Stewart has received all necessary clearances required to return to all racing activities, and therefore is eligible to compete this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. NASCAR has remained in constant contact with his race team, and we will stay very close to this situation as Stewart returns to competition." NASCAR President Mike Helton will participate in a media availability in the Atlanta Motor Speedway media center on Friday at 2 p.m. ET. NASCAR will have no further comment until that time. That availability will be streamed live on NASCAR.com . Stewart was involved in a sprint car racing incident earlier this month that resulted in driver Kevin Ward Jr. suffering fatal injuries at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, a half-mile dirt track on the Ontario County Fairgrounds. The investigation regarding the incident is ongoing. Stewart's racing plans outside NASCAR have been canceled and will not resume until further notice. Stewart has not raced in the past three Sprint Cup events. Jeff Burton filled in at Bristol and at Michigan, guiding the No. 14 team to finishes of 15th and 37th at each track, respectively. At Watkins Glen, NASCAR Nationwide Series regular Regan Smith piloted the No. 14 Chevrolet to a 37th-place finish. Stewart was on the initial entry list for Atlanta that was released Monday. Stewart-Haas Racing officials said at Michigan on Aug. 15 that there was no timetable for Stewart's return to NASCAR racing and that the decision would be the driver's call to make. After sitting out the past three races, Stewart is 26th in points. To be eligible for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, a driver must attempt to qualify for all 26 races leading up to the Chase and be in the top 30 in points. However, according to NASCAR, for rare instances the requirement can be waived as long as the driver is in the top 30. It is not known if Stewart would receive a waiver. Stewart currently has 537 points while 30th-place David Gilliland has 376. Stewart is returning to a track where he has fared well in his career. In 26 starts, he has three wins, 10 top-five finishes, 15 top-10 finishes and a pole. In the past nine years, he also has the third-highest driver rating at the track (100.2). The Oral-B USA 500 is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 31, at 7:30 p.m. ET, with coverage on ESPN. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See where your favorite driver will pit in the Oral-B USA 500 (Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)