Dusting off the Next Race: Kobalt Tools 500 in Atlanta, Georgia

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Dusting off the Next Race:  Kobalt Tools 500 in Atlanta, Georgia
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

 

Many people believe that the second and third race of the year can help determine a winner in the fourth.

If that is true, then a lot of fans are going to be rather unhappy.

Jimmie Johnson has gone to victory lane in the last two races. He had good luck at California and then powered past a dominant Jeff Gordon last week in Las Vegas. Two races...two wins.

If that's the case, then it is going to be hard pressed to find another driver to take the victory. The No. 48 for the third straight week will run the Kobalt Tools logos on the car, mainly cause this is his sponsor's race.

He's definitely the favorite going into Atlanta, where the accelerator will be pushed hard and the speeds will be high.

But, there are some other guys who will definitely be on the radar for having a good weekend on the 1.54-mile quad oval.

Now, time to dust off the next race and look at my other picks for the Kobalt Tools 500.

 

FAVORITES

Kyle Busch He got Toyota's first Cup victory at this track and has always run well in Atlanta. But more importantly, the car he's driving has a great history at this track.

When Bobby Labonte was behind the wheel of this car, he made Atlanta his own personal victory circle. Before it was reconfigured, Labonte won the final fall race when the speedway was just an oval and speeds were down.

The first fall race when the track was changed, Labonte put the No. 18 back in victory lane.

That car is one that everyone watches when this track comes on the schedule. Busch in 2008, following that win had his best season in the Sprint Cup Series.

If he needs to rebound from a sub—par 2009, then this is the track to do it. Rowdy Busch will for sure be on the radar come Sunday.

Jeff Gordon Johnson may have the wins, but the strong run from last Sunday definitely came from the No. 24.

Gordon practically ran away from the field. Unfortunately, his teammate made the call to have four new tires on his final pit stop. When Gordon elected for two, he knew he was in trouble.

But, this is a track that can be run similar to Las Vegas, just at higher speeds.

I'm expecting the DuPont/National Guard Chevy to be up front rather quickly.

Kurt Busch —Speaking of domination, this race last year was all about the blue deuce. If the Miller Lite Dodge didn't win last year, a lot of people would be disappointed. He led 234 of 330 laps in the race, just annihilating the field.

The car that Busch drove was named "Patriot." Later in the season, he ran the same car at Texas and outlasted his brother at Texas.

Unfortunately, that same car got in a wreck last week at Vegas. I still believe he could still win if the team puts the same setup in his car this week that he used last year.

Busch is my pick for this week and if he wins, I'm cracking open a Miller Lite to celebrate.

 

SLEEPERS

Kevin Harvick I feel bad putting Happy in this area, because he's had such a great start to the season. Points lead, up front every race, he deserves to be in the favorite listing.

But, it's hard to believe that it was this race in 2001 that Harvick got his first victory in Cup competition. Even further, that year he wasn't even slated to be in Cup, but unfortunate circumstances put him in the series.

I keep thinking back to a quick piece in NASCAR Scene a few weeks after the win that was just eerie. This is hard to forget. The race in Atlanta was Harvick's third race in Cup and was the fourth race of the season.

The number on the side was 29. Harvick started in fifth and won the race.

When those numbers were put as if it were a calendar date, it just was unreal. This is how the article listed it—3: 4/29/51... DALE EARNHARDT'S BIRTHDAY.

It's been ten years since that win and it's the best chance for Harvick to get the victory. Look out for the No. 29.

Kasey Kahne Cannot forget about the guy who won the last race at this track. Last fall, Kahne was the man when it came to racing in Atlanta under the lights.

But, last year's victory was the last time Kahne would win under the Dodge brand. I think this year, however, he's got an even better chance at getting victory.

That Yates power under the hood of his Ford this year has proved to be a big gain for the entire Richard Petty Motorsports organization. I'd say that Kahne has got a great chance at following up his fall performance.

 

It will be full—throttle action when the green flag waves. Coverage of the Kobalt Tools 500 will begin at Noon ET on FOX, with the race starting shortly after one p.m.

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