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Last Updated Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 5:27 pm, EDT

Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 (Spring)

Status: Final Atlanta Motor Speedway

Race Capsule

Atlanta Motor Speedway
  • What:

    Race 4 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, GA

  • When:

    March 9, 2003 12:30 pm EST

  • Laps:

    325

  • Track Length:

    1.54 miles

  • Race Length:

    501.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $4,075,954

Drivers to Watch

Bill Elliott Tied with Bobby Labonte among active drivers with five victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway; one of four drivers to sweep both races at Atlanta since the track opened in 1960; turned the trick twice in 1985 and 1992; not among the front runners in last year's two races at the track.
Bobby Labonte Owns an average finish of 13 in 20 races at Atlanta, the best among active drivers with 10 or more starts; holds event qualifying record of 194.597 mph for this weekend's MBNA 500 set on March 12, 1999; tied with Bobby Allison and Bill Elliott for most wins with five at Atlanta Motor Speedway; Joe Gibbs Racing is tied with Petty Enterprises with six wins each at the track (Bobby Labonte 5 and Tony Stewart 1).
Michael Waltrip His third-place finish in Sunday's UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway allowed him to regain the top ranking from Kurt Busch; owns three-point lead over Matt Kenseth; was first following his season-opening victory in the Daytona 500; one of six drivers who have been in the top 10 for all three weeks, and one of three to score top-five finishes in two of the three races this season; has not fared well at Atlanta Motor Speedway in recent visits, failing to record a top-10 finish in his last seven starts; in last season's Atlanta 500, he finished 40th due to engine problems; he did rebound in the fall at Atlanta, finishing 11th; best finish at Atlanta came in this event in 1991 when he finished fifth.
Tony Stewart The reigning NASCAR Winston Cup series champion, is one of six drivers to be positioned in the top 10 after three races; on the strength of his fifth-place finish in Las Vegas, he improved four slots to fifth; could move further up considering his performance last season at Atlanta where he is the defending champion of this event; also posted a fourth-place in the fall race; is the only driver in the current top 10 to have posted top-five finishes in both Atlanta races last season; is six positions higher in the championship race then he was at this stage of the season last year when he was ranked 11th.
Kurt Busch The 24-year-old went to his hometown in Las Vegas ranked first in the Winston Cup standings, but ended up being a victim of an accident that resulted in a 38th place finish; remained in the top 10, but fell to sixth place; comes to Atlanta having won last season's fall event as well as finishing 11th in the spring race; at this stage of the season last year, Busch was ranked eighth.
Jimmie Johnson If not for being bumped by Sterling Marlin on the final lap of the Chrysler 400 in Las Vegas, the second-year driver would have had three top-10 finishes in as many races; after sliding on the grass and recovering, he managed to roll across the finish in 11th; remained third in the series standings, 14 points behind pace setter Michael Waltrip; in his first start at Atlanta Motor Speedway last season, he finished an impressive third.
Looks to rebound from a 41st-place finish at Las Vegas; after a high of winning the week before at Rockingham, he experienced the low in an accident last Sunday; this speedway has been good to Jarrett as he scored a win in 1997, nine top-five and 10 top-10 finishes; finished third in the NAPA 500 last October; will use the same car from Atlanta last fall, which also is the one he won with at Pocono in June and Michigan in August; "We adjusted on the car, had good pit work and it was a good race for us. We'll be looking for similar, if not better, results this time around," Jarrett said.
Kevin Harvick Won this race in just his third Winston Cup start after taking over the seat left vacant by the death of the legendary Dale Earnhardt at Daytona in 2001; held off a hard-charging Jeff Gordon by 0.006 seconds following some 20 laps of side-by-side racing at the end by the top five cars; finished 13th at Las Vegas to keep him in the top 10 for the third consecutive week; struggled at Atlanta last season, finishing 39th in this race and 40th in the fall; seventh in the standings, 27 points behind sixth-place Kurt Busch.
Will be making his 45th consecutive start at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday; has one win and a pair of top-10s since the track re-configured in 1997; his record on the original 1 1/2- mile oval was better than the new high-speed version; also won this race in 1987.
Matt Kenseth Led the final 31 laps of the Chrysler 400 in Las Vegas following a final sequence of pit stops en route to his seventh career Winston Cup victory; led twice for 88 laps; the results vaulted him from sixth to second in the standings, three points behind Michael Waltrip; Kenseth finished fourth in this event last year after starting 32nd; also did well in October's NAPA 500 at the track, finishing ninth after starting in the same position.
Jeff Burton Like his Roush teammate Matt Kenseth, he was not ranked in the top 10 in the opening week, but continued a steady rise for the second consecutive week; his sixth-place finish at Las Vegas allowed him to crack the top five, moving from No. 7 to No. 4; struggled in the Atlanta 500 last season, finishing 21st, but bounced back in the fall race and finished 12th; overall, he has recorded eight top-10 finishes in 17 starts at Atlanta, but only one has come in his last six visits.
Jeff Gordon On March 14, 1992, Gordon won his first Busch series race at Atlanta; later that same year, he made his first Winston Cup start at the speedway in what was Richard Petty's last race; also clinched three of his Winston Cup championship at Atlanta (1995, 1997, 2001); won four races at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. After finishes of 36th at Daytona and 33rd at Rockingham, he led four times for a race-high 97 laps to finish second at Las Vegas Motor Speedway; in Atlanta, he led in five of his seven Winston Cup starts; finished both races at the track in the top five last year, including a second in this event when he led five times for 38 laps in a duel with Tony Stewart for the victory; "We always qualify well and race well here," he said. "I really want to get a win at Atlanta. We've come so close." Finished fifth in the NAPA 500 in October.