By Sarah Tonsmeire
With only one week of NASCAR under our belts, there is certainly no shortage of items to discuss. Even with planning and attending his own wedding during the off season, it looks as though Joey Logano has not skipped a beat with producing results. He proved to be the best when it counted, and won his first ever
Daytona 500. Racing under a green-white-checkered for the finish, NASCAR threw the yellow flag just as Logano entered turn three. Since, NASCAR has explained the decision was best to ensure safety for all drivers on track, considering several had endured hard impacts. Labeled by some as an anticlimactic finish, it doesn’t take away from the other excitement Daytona provided during the several weeks NASCAR resided there.
All eyes have been on the Busch family the past week, as they have been dealing with the somewhat expected and the completely unexpected. When the courts announced the decision to uphold the requested restraining order for Kurt Busch to remain at a distance from ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll, NASCAR released its decision to indefinitely suspend Busch, leaving him out of the running for the Daytona 500. Not too soon after, brother Kyle Busch was involved in a crash during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Race, severely injuring both of his legs. There is no definite time set for either of the brothers to return to the sport.
Because of everything that took place in Daytona, several changes have been implemented. Atlanta Motor Speedway and Daytona International Speedway have both reviewed their current use of SAFER barriers, and have made changes to increase safety. With two mainstream Sprint Cup Series drivers out of the running, temporary replacements have been named. Regan Smith will drive the No. 41 Chevrolet in place of Kurt Busch, and David Ragan will be behind the wheel of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing car. Because David Ragan currently wheels the No. 34 car of Front Row Motorsports, Joe Nemechek has stepped up to fill in that seat.
Heading in to the second week of the official season, drivers and teams are searching for the perfect combinations to secure a spot in the Chase. Although it’s still early in the season, securing a win removes a lot of pressure from the teams. As one of the fastest tracks on the circuit, Atlanta is sure to be a thrill to all. With the schedule changes from a Labor Day race to a February race, track conditions are going to be quite different. Measuring just over a mile and a half long, Atlanta Motor Speedway boasts 24-degree banking in the turns. Drivers will maneuver 325 laps around the track for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. Many drivers label Atlanta as one of their favorite tracks to visit.
It is definitely special to Jeff Gordon, as he made his first Sprint Cup Series debut at this track in 1992. Gordon leads current drivers with the most wins at Atlanta, and with it being his last full-time season, Gordon is listed first on the Fast Five this week. The remaining Fast Five includes: Kasey Kahne, who is a multi-time winner here, and is the defending winner here; Tony Stewart, who has the opportunity to perform well this season at Atlanta and is an excellent intermediate track racer; Denny Hamlin, who is coming off of a top five performance last week, and is listed among the top performing drivers at Atlanta; and Kevin Harvick, who is continuing the momentum from last season, and is the defending pole position winner here.
Tune into the race Sunday at 1:00 p.m. on FOX.