NASCAR & Auto Racing

NASCAR Folds of Honor 500 preview in 3 minutes

Driver Jimmie Johnson get ready for a practice session for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, in Hampton, Ga.
Driver Jimmie Johnson get ready for a practice session for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, in Hampton, Ga. AP

Everything you need to know about Sunday’s NASCAR Folds of Honor 500 at Atlanta, in three minutes:

Three things to watch

1. Sunday is David Ragan’s first race substituting for the injured Kyle Busch in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota. Busch is expected to miss several weeks of action.

2. NASCAR’s new aerodynamic rules package debut’s Sunday but so far this weekend lower horsepower and downforce has not brought less speed on the track.

3. Keep an eye on all the fast cars coming from the back of the field – Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick will all be trying to work their way to the front.

Observations

▪  Group qualifying was again a problem this weekend but one would be hard pressed to blame NASCAR. Thirteen teams failed to clear inspection before qualifying Friday and never posted a speed. Many teams complained they needed more time to correct problems, but it’s hardly incumbent on NASCAR to accomodate teams’ efforts to skirt the rules.

▪  Kevin Harvick posted the fastest average lap speed in Saturday’s practice session but also blew an engine in the middle of the session. Harvick will have to start the race from the rear of the field but with the colder-than-usual temperatures, will this be the first of many problems?

▪  Joey Logano won the season-opening Daytona 500 and will start from the pole Sunday. It’s very early but Team Penske seems to have picked up where it left off last season.

Notes

Safety changes possible at Vegas: Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Marcus Smith told the Observer on Saturday that he expects more safety enhancements will be made to SMI's tracks, including the possibility of changes to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, site of next weekend's Cup and Xfinity series races.

“I don't know if NASCAR officials have been out there to review it, they've been pretty busy between Daytona and Atlanta," Smith said. "I wouldn't be surprised that come Monday we have some additions."

Before Kyle Busch’s wreck at Daytona last weekend, SMI had already planned additions to energy-absorbing SAFER barriers at three of its tracks – Charlotte, New Hampshire and Kentucky. Upon a recommendation from NASCAR, SMI sent 1,100 tires this week to Atlanta to cover some areas of the track with tire packs that are not protected by SAFER barriers.

Annett in after all: Michael Annett will compete in Sunday’s race after all despite failing to make the field when his No. 46 team could not pass pre-qualifying inspection.

Annett will drive the No. 33 Chevrolet for CircleSport Racing, replacing Brian Scott, so Annett won’t lose considerable ground in the Cup series points standings. Scott runs fulltime in the Xfinity Series.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Joey Logano: He won the Daytona 500 and won the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity race and Sunday’s Cup race. Certainly on a roll.

Kasey Kahne: A victory in this race a year ago earned him an invitation to the Chase. Can he make it two in a row?

Casey Mears: This team has been fast out of the box this season and was ninth fastest in final practice.

He said it

“It will just make for a better show.” – Kevin Harvick, on starting from the rear of the field.

N@SCAR

Getting there

Race Facts

Where: Atanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, Ga.

Track type: 1.54-mile quad-oval

Race distance: 325 laps, or 501 miles

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

TV: Fox

Radio: Performance Racing Network

  Comments