The Usual Suspects:
#18 Kyle Busch - Still the hottest driver in NASCAR after another Truck Series win and currently dominating the Nationwide race, Busch always runs well at Atlanta. He currently leads all three series in points.
#24 Jeff Gordon, #48 Jimmie Johnson, #88 Dale Jr. - The three top Hendrick cars dominated practice and qualifying. Jr. was fastest in practice and 2nd in qualifying after a good finish last week. Gordon's on the pole, while Jimmie won both races at Atlanta last year and has looked much better than last week.
#99 Carl Edwards - Winner of two in a row but also the center of controversy, it'll be interesting to see how the #99 does with an oil tank cover attached. Will we see another backflip?
#9 Kasey Kahne - Very quietly third in points after a very disappointing 2007, Kahne has a victory at Atlanta and qualified well yesterday. A victory would really serve as notice to the other drivers that he's back and a force to be reckoned with in 2008.
#43 Bobby Labonte - In the top 10 in both practice and qualifying, Labonte has quite a few wins here over the course of his career.
Bottom of the Barrel:
#5 Casey Mears - A slow start by the Hendrick stable has been taken to an extreme by Mears. He remains in danger of being outside the top 35, and has been much slower than the other 3 Hendrick cars this weekend as well. He is desperately in need of a good result.
All Open Wheelers - It's been a tough start for all the drivers switching over from the IRL. No rookie is in the top 35, including the two (Hornish, Franchitti) who have made all three starts so far.
#84 Mike Skinner - With teammate Brian Vickers 13th in points and the #84 not having made a race, Allmendinger was pulled in favor of the veteran Skinner. In his first race, Skinner qualified in almost identical time to Vickers, and he will now have a chance to get some desperately needed points.
March 8, 2008
The Usual Suspects: