A Race That Stood Out: The 2009 Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta

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A Race That Stood Out: The 2009 Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta
Jason Smith/Getty Images

On September 6, 2009 NASCAR held it's first ever night race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Fans have complained that the racing at Atlanta was getting dull and the track was in danger of possibly losing a race.

That night all the worries were non-existent.

Martin Truex Jr. won the pole that night with Kasey Kahne in toe starting second.  

Truex Jr led the most laps, no not 234 like Kurt Busch did in March but only 68 laps as the race saw 13 different leaders.  Kevin Harvick led 66 laps, Kahne led for 60, Juan Pablo Montoya for 31, Jeff Gordon led 30, and Kyle Busch 24 circuits.

Then there were Denny Hamlin for 23 laps, Jimmie Johnson for 17, and Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, and Michael Waltrip led one lap.

This race had the unpredictability that rivaled a plate race.  Early on it looked like Truex Jr. would  cruise to a win, then Johnson looked to be in control, then Kyle Busch, Gordon, Hamlin, and even Montoya looked good to grab his first win on an oval.

But Harvick on the long runs set a fast pace that no one could match.  He would go as far as lapping cars inside the top 15.  But a late caution caused by his teammate Clint Bowyer spinning would perhaps cost Harvick the win.

Kahne, who was running second took command of the race lead and never looked back winning his second race of the season and the 11th of his career while Harvick would have to settle for second, Juan Pablo Montoya third, David Reutimann fourth, and Mark Martin would round out the top five.

Kahne to say the least was very please

“The entire Budweiser Dodge team did great. The pit stops were awesome. (Kevin) Harvick was best on the long run, but when we got that last caution and the restart with 11 to go, I knew we had a shot at the victory."

The win also helped Kahne's chances at making the Chase.

"It’s all about making the Chase. That certainly put us in a better position going to Richmond. I knew Harvick and (Juan Pablo) Montoya were going to be tough. I hadn’t gotten through the gears all night and (David) Reutimann gave me a push on the front stretch and got me going. It was a great win for Richard Petty Motorsports and the Budweiser Dodge team.”

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