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Last Updated Monday, Mar 17, 2008 1:36 am, EDT

Kobalt Tools 500

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, 2008 2:25 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    325

  • Track Length:

    1.54 miles

  • Race Length:

    501.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $5,060,012

Drivers to Watch

Jeff Gordon Was involved in a scary late-race crash at Las Vegas and finished 35th; bounced back with a third at California after opening his 2008 season with a disappointing 39th at the Daytona 500; already has two DNFs this season after posting just one last year; only a dominant finish by teammate Jimmie Johnson kept him from capturing a fifth championship last season; finished with 10 top-10 finishes in the final 11 races - the other finish in that span was an 11th at Dover; totaled a remarkable 30 top-10 finishes and 21 top-fives in 36 races last year; spun with less than two laps remaining at Watkins Glen while leading, costing him another potential win - still managed to finish ninth; had six checkered flags last season and 81 career, just two shy of tying Cale Yarborough for fifth place all-time; reached a landmark milestone at the first Talladega race, recording his 77th career victory to pass the late Dale Earnhardt for sixth all-time; had 10 poles last season - double that of Ryan Newman who had five; finished 12th in this race last year.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. The circuit's most popular driver finished second at Las Vegas last week; was the top finishing Hendrick car at the Daytona with a ninth-place showing; was involved in an early-race crash at California and finished 40th; made the move from his father's Dale Earnhardt Inc., where he won 17 Cup events, to Hendrick Motorsports; got off to a good start with his new team by winning the Bud Shootout; has not won a points race since Richmond in May 2006; suffered through a tough final season at DEI, finishing 16th in the standings; had 12 top 10's last season, but also posted 11 finishes of 25th or worse; finished 14th in the first Atlanta race last season.
Carl Edwards Won at Las Vegas for his ninth career Cup win a week after taking the checkered flag at California; took over the top spot in the standings, 21 points ahead of Kyle Busch; ran 19th in the Daytona 500; qualified for the Chase last year and won at Dover after finishing 12th at New Hampshire, but failed post-race inspection and was docked 25 points and fined; penalty dropped him from third to sixth in the standings and he never recovered; won the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series championship; finished with 11 top fives and 15 top 10s last year; also won at Michigan and Bristol; ran seventh here in March last year.
Kyle Busch Has gotten off to a stellar start with Joe Gibbs Racing, placing fourth in the first two races; had the dominant car and led the most laps at the Daytona 500; was strong at Las Vegas early, but struggled late and wound up 11th; sits second in the standings, 21 points behind Carl Edwards; is looking to build off a sensational run at Hendrick Motorsports as he moves to JGR and Toyota; finished fifth in the final standings after qualifying for the Chase for the second consecutive season; had 20 top-10 finishes in 36 races last season, including 11 top-fives; lone win came during the first Bristol race - the inaugural Car of Tomorrow event; finished 32nd in this race last season.
Clint Bowyer Has gotten off to a slow start after his 2007 breakthrough campaign; started the season with a 24th at Daytona after being involved in a late-race crash and a 19th at California; followed that up with a 28th at Las Vegas; finished third in the final standings after qualifying for his first Chase for the Championship; started his first Chase in grand fashion, winning his first career Cup race at New Hampshire; finished with 17 top 10s and five top-fives in 36 races last season, including two poles; finished sixth in this event last year.
Jimmie Johnson Two-time defending series champion finished a disappointing 19th at Las Vegas after winning there two years in a row; ran second at California after starting this campaign with a 27th at the Daytona 500; battled teammate Gordon for the top spot in the Chase early on, last season, then took off - winning four straight races over the second half of the Chase; suffered through an up-and-down season before the Chase, finishing 39th at the Brickyard after a fiery crash on the heels of a 37th at Chicago; finished the season with 10 wins, 20 top fives, 24 top 10s and failed to finish four races; swept both Atlanta races last season.
Ryan Newman Snapped an 81-race winless streak by winning the Daytona 500; last win came at the September race at New Hampshire in 2005; got a huge push from teammate Kurt Busch to earn the win, giving Penske Racing its first-ever Daytona 500 victory; followed Daytona victory with a 10th at California and 14th at Las Vegas; known as a top qualifier; earned the nickname "Rocketman" after winning a series-high 11 poles in 2003; finished 13th in the final standings last year - his second straight season out of the Chase after dropping to 18th in 2006; finished 23rd at this race last year.
Jeff Burton One of the circuit's most consistent drivers finished 13th in the Daytona 500 and eighth at California; was fifth in Las Vegas and sits seventh in the standings; finished eighth in last season's standings, one year after placing seventh; finished in the top 10 in half of the races last season, including nine top fives; lone win of the season came in April at Texas; finished the season strong with five top 10s over the final six races; finished fourth here in March last year.
Denny Hamlin Has gotten off to a slow start this season unlike JGR teammates Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart; started off his third season with a 17th at the Daytona 500 and a 41st at California; rebounded to finish ninth at Las Vegas; avoided the sophomore slump last year after enjoying a breakthrough rookie campaign in 2006, posting 12 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes; won his only race of the of the season at New Hampshire in July, but could manage only a 15th-place finish at Loudon to start the Chase en route to finishing 12th and last among Chase competitors; followed up the win at New Hampshire by finishing dead last at Daytona after wrecking early in the race with Stewart; ran 19th in this race last year.
Tony Stewart Suffered a hard crash at Las Vegas, injured his ankle and finished dead last; had another disappointment at Daytona, finishing third despite having the lead with one lap to go; took sixth at California after the Daytona 500; moved within two points of the points lead after the first two Chase races last year, but could not keep pace with Johnson and Gordon and faded to sixth in the final standings; finished second at Richmond to enter the Chase on a hot streak; pre-Chase surge included fourth at Bristol as well as running 10th at Michigan on the heels of winning at Watkins Glen - his third win; captured back-to-back victories at Chicagoland and at the Brickyard; won three races in total to go along with 23 top-10s; ran second to Johnson in this race last year.
Matt Kenseth Finished 20th at Las Vegas after a late-race incident with Jeff Gordon; ran fifth at California, fresh off a disappointing 35th place showing at the Daytona 500; last season had a late-Chase surge with a win at the season-ending race at Homestead, following a third at Phoenix and a second at Texas; finished fourth in the final standings; had 13 top-five finishes and 22 top 10s last season; won the series championship in 2003 despite capturing only one checkered flag, prompting NASCAR to change to its current Chase format; enters this season without longtime crew chief Robbie Reiser who has been replaced by Chip Bolin; ran third in the first Atlanta race last year.