The NASCAR AdvoCare 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of the most pivotal races of the Sprint Cup season. It is the second-to-last race before the Chase for the Cup field is set.
This race offers drivers one final chance to put themselves in a position to make the Chase field before next week's final pre-Chase race at Richmond.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart are hanging on to the crucial ninth and 10th spots in the standings, but Brad Keselowski is quickly closing in on them. With three wins, Keselowski already has one of the two Wild Card spots locked up, but the way he is running, he is likely not going to have to settle for a Wild Card, as he will move into the Top 10.
That would leave Earnhardt Jr. and Stewart to battle for 10th, which is key for them since neither has a win on the season. Earnhardt Jr. currently leads Stewart by 18 points.
The good news for Stewart is that he won this very race last season. If he can repeat that performance, he will likely punch his ticket into the Chase.
Besides the drama of the points chase, this should be an outstanding race just for racing's sake. This is a fast, 1.54-mile quad-oval. The 31-degree turns make for a fast-paced race. The most interesting part of the Atlanta Motor Speedway is the fact that the evenly banked turns allow drivers to use the entire track.
There is never an optimal line at Atlanta. The whole track is just grip and go. This makes passing here easier than most tracks, and that makes the racing here more exciting than most tracks.
Stay tuned to Bleacher Report's Motorsports Page for all your up-to-date NASCAR news, analysis and schedules.