Wow, can you believe it?? We finally hear a good anthem. It has been a long time for that.
We kick off Labor Day at Atlanta Motor Speedway heading into the sun and nice evening for 500 miles of door to door action.
Denny Hamlin along with Ryan Newman will lead our 43 drivers to the start finish line. Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart will be in tow for the top five. By the way only one driver has won the race from the pole.
We will keep an eye on Casey Mears who starts 43rd, Marcos Ambrose starting 32nd, Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. starting 25th.
The pace car leads the field out of turn four and in control of the front row. Then all of a sudden it’s…
GREEN FLAG as we see a huge amount of smoke from the fireworks that were shot off as the field drove along the back stretch. Hamlin and Newman race side by side for the entire lap where Hamlin is scored with the first five points.
Lap 4 Martin Truex Jr. attempts to pass Stewart but Stewart has the power to hold the position. Lap 5 we almost see Edwards slap the outside wall of turn 4. Lap 6 Mark Martin start his day 17th and rapidly fall back to 27th. Lap 8 we see a battle between Edwards and Kyle Busch form up but they hold their starting positions.
Lap 10 early movers on the track see last night’s Nationwide winner Jamie McMurray move up to 8th from his start of 12th as well as Elliott Sadler 17th from his start of 22nd. Lap 16 Newman for the lead coming out of turn four.
Lap 18 Jimmie Johnson is starting to challenge Stewart for 4th. Johnson started 7th. We also see on lap 19 A.J. Allmendinger passing Greg Biffle for 11th. Lap 22 Newman leads Hamlin by a half second.
Lap 35 we had a drop in our coverage for a few laps but we are back with Hamlin in the lead over Kyle Busch by 1.5 seconds. Newman has slipped back to 4th after a Stewart pass. Lap 38 Jeff Gordon slips back to 14th after Paul Menard passes him for 13th.
Lap 38 the start and park drivers segment are underway as Michael McDowell and Joe Nemechek head to the garage. NASCAR warns the teams of Kevin Conway and Mike Bliss to pick up their speed or they will be heading to the garage too.
Lap 43 we also see the lap down list growing as Patrick Carpentier, J.J. Yeley, Travis Kvapil, David Gilliland and Brad Keselowski are on the list. Lap 44 add Dave Blaney to the list with Bobby Labonte and Reed Sorenson to be next.
Mike Bliss and Conway head to the garage. Lap 46 Sam Hornish Jr. is the first one to pit road. Lap 46 Marcos Ambrose and Kurt Busch are on pit road. Lap 48 Sorenson is in along with Stewart, Biffle, Juan Pablo Montoya, Edwards. Martin and ten others are in.
Lap 49 the floodgates are open as another ten head onto pit road. Lap 50 Kyle Busch is busted for too fast on entry to pit road. We see that McMurray missed pit road for his first attempt.
Lap 54 after the round of pit stops Stewart is the leader followed by the rest of your top twenty drivers of Hamlin, Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne, Newman, Johnson, Edwards, Biffle, Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer, Menard, Kevin Harvick, Montoya, Ambrose, David Ragan, David Reutimann, Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and McMurray.
Lap 55 Hamlin is back in the lead. Lap 58 Ambrose has moved up the most positions to 13th. Lap 70 Kyle Busch heads to pit road for a vibration. Kurt Busch falls a lap down as well. Lap 71 Stewart takes the lead again. Are the cars are back on track except for Nemechek.
Lap 75 your top ten drivers are Stewart, Hamlin, Kahne, Edwards, Truex Jr., Johnson, Biffle, Allmendinger, Menard and Harvick. Lap 77 Harvick started his day 29th and is up 19 positions to 10th.
Lap 79 where are our spotlight drivers? Mears is 31st and one lap down, Ambrose is 18th and up 14 positions, Logano 26th one lap down but up five from his start and Earnhardt Jr. up 9 positions to 16th from his start of 25th.
Lap 84 Hamlin closes in on Stewart for the lead. Stewart is able to stay in front of Hamlin on lap 86 as they have to contend with lap down drivers. A surprise of the race is Jeff Burton running 24th and just about to go a lap down. Lap 88 Hornish Jr. heads to pit road for a scheduled stop. Hamlin is the leader.
Lap 90 Johnson running behind Kahne and Truex Jr. is big time sideways out of turn four. Lap 91 Keselowski is on pit road. Burton falls a lap down. Lap 92 pit stops begin as Kurt Busch heads to his pit. Lap 93 Bowyer is in. Lap 94 Martin is in danger of going a lap down. Newman is in for a stop with Mears.
Lap 96 McMurray is in with a few other drivers in the back of the field. Reutimann is having issues with his radio as the team asks NASCAR to black flag their driver to make his stop.
Lap 97 Stewart and Jeff Gordon are in with many of the leaders. Lap 100 most of the stops are complete, Kyle Busch is out of pit stop rotation and currently in the top five. Your top twenty drivers are Stewart, Hamlin, Truex Jr., Edwards, Kahne, Kyle Busch, Johnson, Menard, Harvick, Biffle, Allmendinger, Newman, Bowyer, Montoya, Jeff Gordon, Reutimann, Earnhardt Jr., McMurray, Ambrose and Kenseth. So far we have seen 12 lead changes among 4 leaders and no cautions as of yet.
Lap 110 as Johnson has moved up a few positions to 6th and challenges Kahne for 5th. Lap 114 Jeff Gordon may have a better setup on the car as he closes in on Montoya for 11th. Johnson takes 5th from Kahne.
Lap 116 Harvick’s move to the front continues as he is up to 8th ( a move of 21 spots). Lap 120 we have 19 drivers on the lead lap. The issue with Reutimann was that he knocked the cord out from his helmet. The issue places him two laps down.
Lap 125 Kenseth falls a lap down with Martin, Ambrose, Earnhardt Jr. and McMurray who may the next ones on the list. Lap 127 Hamlin takes the lead back from Stewart. Lap 130 we have been watching Logano for a few laps now and he may have an issue with the engine.
Lap 131 Martin falls a lap down. Earnhardt Jr. falls a lap down lap 133 and will be the lucky dog as…
YELLOW FLAG lap 134 for debris. The leaders head to pit road. The race back is Hamlin, Stewart, Edwards, Harvick and Truex Jr.
GREEN FLAG lap 139 as Edwards shoots the middle of the leaders as they head into turn one followed by Truex Jr. leaving Stewart in the dust for a moment. Lap 141 Johnson heads to the outside wall in turn one, just misses it while Hamlin slips back a few spots after Edwards takes the lead followed by Truex Jr. and Johnson.
Lap 143 Kahne Challenges Biffle for 7th.
YELLOW FLAG lap 144 as Hamlin blows his motor on the front straight. Kyle Busch wins his lucky dog position. We are going to be under this caution for some extra laps with the oil on the front stretch. The leaders head to pit road on lap 148. The race out of pit road is won by Stewart who is followed by Edwards, Truex Jr., Johnson and Harvick. We will see about 21 drivers who are wave around drivers. Martin, Mears, Kenseth, Ambrose, Ragan, Smith will go back on the lead lap and Kyle Busch is the lucky dog. This will get us back to 23 drivers on the lead lap.
GREEN FLAG lap 152 as Edwards runs the outside line, Stewart on the inside line.
YELLOW FLAG lap 152 as Biffle makes contact with Newman as they head into turn three. Biffle slides sideways in the middle of the track facing the apron, sliding down into Sadler’s car which shoots him into the outside turn four wall. Kyle Busch and Earnhardt Jr. are missed by inches. Harvick was on the outside of Sadler and may have some slight damage, but we cannot tell yet. Burton is the lucky dog.
We have a whole bunch more wave around drivers.
GREEN FLAG lap 162 as Johnson did what Edwards did on the last restart to take the lead. Lap 163 (halfway) lots of action in the middle of the pack. Lap 166 a few battles as Earnhardt Jr. moves into 10th. Lap 168 Gordon challenges Kahne for 5th and takes it coming out of turn two.
Lap 169 Kyle Busch passes Kahne for 6th. Stewart closes in on Johnson for the lead. Stewart takes it on lap 170. Lap 173 Harvick was running back in 13th but is on the move once again as he passes Earnhardt Jr. for 10th. Menard follows Harvick and takes 11th. Harvick continues his move forward passing Kahne to take 9th.
Lap 177 Harvick takes 8th from Montoya. Lap 178 Kyle Busch closes in on McMurray for 6th. Trouble for McMurray as he picks up a flat tire and just makes it into pit road. Lap 181 battle between Harvick, Kyle Busch and Kahne for 7th. Harvick takes it.
Lap 182 battle for 4th place as Truex Jr. holds off Gordon. Lap 183 Gordon takes the position. Lap 185 Stewart has the lead on Johnson by 2.1 seconds and 3.8 seconds over third place Edwards.
Lap 187 we see battles between Kahne and Kyle Busch for 8th, Bowyer and Martin for 15th. Our spotlight drivers run with Mears in 26th, Ambrose 17th, Logano 31st and Earnhardt Jr. 10th.
Lap 193 our movers of the race currently are Harvick 4th from his start of 29th, Gordon 5th from 18th, Earnhardt Jr. 10th from 25th, Burton on a big comeback 11th from being a lap down and his start of 26th and Ambrose 16th from his start of 32nd.
Lap 196 drivers who have fallen back are Newman 21st from his start of 2nd, McMurray 23rd from 12th, Reutimann 22nd from 24th, Biffle 36th from 15th and Hamlin out of the race from the pole position.
Lap 200 (125 to go) your top twenty drivers are Stewart, Johnson, Edwards, Harvick, Gordon, Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Montoya, Kahne, Burton, Earnhardt Jr., Allmendinger, Martin, Bowyer, Ambrose, Speed, Smith, Kurt Busch, Menard and Newman. So far…
YELLOW FLAG lap 201 for Ragan spinning out coming out of turn two. We saw 19 lead changes among 6 drivers and as of now 4 cautions. Kenseth is the lucky dog. The leaders head to pit road. Stewart, Johnson, Edwards, Gordon and Kyle Busch are the top five back to the track.
GREEN FLAG lap 206 as Stewart and Johnson are three wide with Edwards a Kyle Busch pushes him forward. Earnhardt Jr. almost has contact with Ambrose as Earnhardt is 12th. Lap 208 another three wide between Keselowski, McMurray and Sorenson for 23rd.
Lap 210 another three wide battle for Kahne, Gordon and Burton for 8th. Ambrose slipping back to 15th. Lap 211 Montoya moves past Kyle Busch for 4th place. Lap 212 Reutimann battle with McMurray for the lucky dog position. Two laps later McMurray has the position.
Lap 213 Stewart begins his move away from Johnson by 1.4 seconds. Lap 219 we have 21 drivers on the lead lap. Down one lap we see McMurray, Reutimann, Sorenson, Mears, and Ragan. Two laps down are Gilliland, Blaney, Elliott and Logano. Three laps down are Labonte and Kvapil. Four laps down are Carpentier and Hornish Jr.
Lap 224 either way back or parked in the garage are Nemechek, McDowell, Conway, Biffle, Yeley, Sadler, Bliss and Hamlin. Lap 225 (100 to go) your top ten drivers are Stewart, Edwards, Montoya, Johnson, Kyle Busch, Truex Jr., Harvick, Kahne, Burton and Allmendinger.
Lap 226 we see Biffle who returned many laps ago limping back out of turn three to pit road. Lap 229 Burton hooks the apron to pass Kahne for 8th. Lap 235 Biffle is back in the race. Stewart leads Edwards by 2.2 seconds, 3rd place Montoya by 4.2 seconds, 4th place Johnson 5.4 seconds and 5th place Kyle Busch 5.6 seconds.
Lap 246 as the green flag run continues on and drivers are looking way out of shape in the corners. Kyle Busch, Harvick and Johnson are just hanging on from losing control of their cars.
Lap 250 pit stops begin.
YELLOW FLAG lap 253 as we are halfway through the pit stops as Harvick blows a left front tire in turn one after missing pit road entrance then car parts fly off the front fender on the track. We will see how this shakes out for scoring in just a minute as it shows Harvick as the leader and should be down several positions.
Lap 259 NASCAR has Harvick head to pit road for an extra lap to square away the error where we have 19 drivers on the lead lap. We see a few drivers come in to pit road like Gordon and Martin. As most pitted, they do not come back. During the closed pits Harvick came in several times, he will serve a penalty going back to the field.
McMurray is the lucky dog. Ragan, Keselowski will go to the back of the field as well for speeding on pit road.
GREEN FLAG lap 263 as Edwards and Stewart get the show going again. Stewart may have spun his wheels, which allows several drivers to get around. Kyle Busch and Truex Jr. pass to take 2nd and 3rd.
YELLLOW FLAG lap 265 as Speed blows his engine in turn three. Sorenson is the lucky dog. Menard takes his car to the garage for an engine issue as well. The field drives around for several laps before pit road is open. The race back is Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Edwards, Kahne and Stewart. Mears is the lucky dog.
GREEN FLAG lap 275 (50 to go) as Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon who remained on the field lead us back to racing. Edwards and Truex Jr. restart back in 8th. Lap 277 Gordon is passed by Johnson and Edwards who take 4th and 5th. Lap 278 Kahne takes second place from Kyle Busch who remained on track.
45 to go as Kahne takes the lead from Kurt Busch. Johnson passes Kyle Busch to take over 4th place. 44 to go Ambrose passes Newman for 15th. 43 to go Gordon continues to fall back to 8th. 42 to go Johnson to challenge Edwards for 2nd and takes it.
40 to go Johnson closes in on Kahne for the lead. 38 to go coming out of turn two Johnson works on Kahne. By turn three Kahne holds him off. 36 to go it’s a three way battle for the lead between Kahne, Johnson and Edwards.
35 to go Kahne mirror driving to hold Johnson and Edwards back. 33 to go we almost saw Johnson make a pass but was way loose and did not make it. 31 to go Montoya battles with Truex Jr. for 7th.
YELLOW FLAG with 30 to go as Keselowski is completely sideways and does not hit anything, big time luck for his team. Reutimann is the lucky dog. The field heads to pit road. Edwards is the first back to the track followed by Stewart, Kahne, Johnson and Kurt Busch.
GREEN FLAG with 24 to go Stewart does not spin his wheels like the past few times and takes the lead. Kahne connects into Kurt Busch and is the looser with a flat tire.
YELLOW FLAG and 23 to go as some pieces fly off of Kahne’s car. Ragan is the lucky dog.
20 to go we have Stewart, Edwards, Johnson, Newman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Bowyer, Truex Jr., Kenseth and Ambrose as the top ten.
GREEN FLAG and 18 to go as Edwards and Stewart lead us again to racing. Stewart spins the tires once again but recovers and has the lead solidly. 16 to go Newman and Johnson battle for 3rd place with Kurt Busch in tow.
15 to go as this is our battle as Stewart and Edwards leave the field behind.
14 to go it’s game on between Burton and Kyle Busch for 6th
13 to go as Kurt Busch works the outside and Burton on the inside with a big power save as he passed Kurt Busch in turn four and was almost sideways.
11 to go as Burton moves into 5th to leave Kyle and Kurt Busch battle for 6th.
10 to go as Stewart leads Edwards by 1 second. McMurray and Sorenson fight for 14th.
9 to go it’s Bowyer versus Kurt Busch for 7th.
8 to go as McMurray has to fight for 15th with Reutimann.
7 to go Burton closes in on Newman for 4th place.
6 to go Stewart leads as Burton almost made it past Newman coming out of turn four.
5 to go Stewart over Edwards by 1 second
4 to go Newman has the position as they have to deal with lap down driver Kahne.
3 to go as Newman was pushed out of shape by Kahne.
2 to go Stewart by 1.2 seconds over Edwards
WHITE FLAG for Stewart out of turn four “RING THE BELL BABY” exclaims Stewart.
CHECKERED FLAG for Stewart.
The top ten in overall points are locked in the Chase.
Your top ten finishers were Stewart, Edwards, Johnson, Burton, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Bowyer, Newman, Montoya and Ambrose.
The race lasted for almost four hours. We saw 27 lead changes among 9 leaders and 8 cautions for 53 laps.
Stewart led the most laps with 175, Hamlin led 71. Edwards led 28 and Kahne 16. Kurt Busch and Newman led 10 laps.