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Race Preview and Fantasy Predictions:Kobalt Tools 500

By admin | March 4, 2009

By Richard Allen

 

Track and Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia

Track Layout: 1.54 mile double dog leg oval with 24 degrees of banking in the turns.

Race Distance: 500 miles, 325 laps

Date of Race: Sunday(March 8, 2009)

Radio Coverage: PRN(1:00 Eastern)

Television Coverage: Fox(1:30 Eastern)

Start Time: 2:15(Eastern)

Last Year’s Winner: Kyle Busch

Traditionally, the Atlanta Motor Speedway has provided some of the best racing and closest finishes on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule as 3 of the 12 closest finishes in NASCAR history have occurred on this track.

Even with that, however, the track has had a difficult time selling tickets. Despite the fact that the track sits in the heart of NASCAR country and offers up some of the best racing anywhere, there are often many empty seats showing themselves on race day.

As for selecting a fantasy team for this race players have a great deal of information to work with. Both races on this track last year can be looked to for trends. And, last weeks race on the somewhat similar Las Vegas Motor Speedway can provide useful information.

Much of the fantasy information shown below applies to the ESPN Fantasy Stock Car Challenge(see below for information regarding the RacingWithRich.com league at that site). However, the thoughts below can be applied to most NASCAR fantasy games.

Here are some thoughts for the Kobalt Tools 500:

Drivers who should do well: Engine troubles have been prevalent in the races and practice sessions of the last two weeks. However, there does not appear to be a predictable pattern. Teams and makes that have troubles one week will be fine the next. Or, teams who have troubles in early practices make it through the race while the opposite will be true for others. With all that said, the major teams will still dominate in Atlanta.

Carl Edwards- He won here in the fall of 2008 and was very strong in the spring race until mechanical woes struck. It’s hard to say what he had in Vegas. He seemed to be taking it a bit easy after his Roush teammates had engine problems. He eventually lost an engine in the race’s late stages.

Jeff Gordon- He always seems to run well on this track. He has been very strong in each of the last two races of 2009. He was even able to score a 6th place finish in Vegas with a damaged car.

Kyle Busch- He won here in the spring of last year for Toyota’s first Sprint Cup victory. He won last week in Vegas. That looks like a pretty solid trend.

Matt Kenseth- After winning the first two races of the season he had a major slip up in Vegas. Last fall, he led the most laps here on his way to a 4th place finish.

David Reutimann- Among the lower priced drivers he continues to score major points. His 4th place last week at LVMS was impressive.

Robby Gordon- He had a 15th in Vegas. Toyota power could begin to pay off for this driver.

Bobby Labonte- He had a Top 5 in Vegas. He has won six times in Atlanta over the course of his career. This could be a nice value pick up.

Drivers to avoid: Last week’s race was a crazy event with the mechanical problems and crashes by some major players. It is hard to say who might be overpriced at this stage, but here are some thoughts in regard to drivers who may not do well this weekend.

A.J. Allmendinger- Many may have jumped on his bandwagon after the 3rd place in Daytona. In his last two races he has finished 29th and 33rd.

Casey Mears- So far he has had finishes of 15th, 24th and 30th. He has not looked competitive at all.

Ryan Newman- Although his teammate, Tony Stewart, has done well, Newman’s best finish in 2009 has been a 25th.

Winner of the Kobalt Tools 500: Jeff Gordon

These are only suggestions. Do your own research and enjoy the Kobalt Tools 500.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

* I have established a fantasy league on the ESPN Fantasy Stock Car Challenge site. Click on the link below and use the information provided to join the league.

http://games.espn.go.com/stockcar/frontpage

League name: RacingWithRich.com

Password: fantasy2009

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