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Atlanta Motor Speedway

Atlanta Motor Speedway track layout

Atlanta Motor Speedway Race:

#25 9/4/2011 Labor Day Classic 500 7:30PM ESPN
2010 Winner Tony Stewart

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The Atlanta Motor Speedway has had two identities since it opened in 1960. The first identity was as Atlanta International Raceway. It was a 1.5 mile oval that had very limited seating and even more limited restroom facilities.

The speedway struggled financially and went through several different changes in management. It eventually declared bankruptcy. The speedway recovered but still struggled as a second rate racing facility.

All that changed in 1990 when Bruton Smith purchased the speedway. The first thing that changed was the name to Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Among the many changes were the addition of luxury suites more grandstand seating capacity and the addition of Tara place. Tara place is a building overlooking the speedway that contains 46 luxury condominiums.

Unfortunately in 2011 NASCAR took away the spring race at the track in order to make room on the schedule for a race at the Kentucky Speedway,

Recent Kobalt Tools 500 Winners

2010 Kurt Busch
2009 Kurt Busch
2008 Kyle Busch
2007 Jimmie Johnson
2006 Kasey Kahne

Back to Front and Front to Back

The most dramatic change was to the racetrack itself. The front stretch became the backstretch and the backstretch became the front stretch.

Two dog-leg turns and the start/finish line were added to the old backstretch and the backstretch became the frontstretch. The 1.5 mile oval became a 1.54 mile quad-oval.

The front stretch at Atlanta Motor Speedway Because the track is now 1.54 miles long the '500' mile races are actually 500.5 miles long otherwise if they didn't race that last lap it would only be 498.96 miles which would be really difficult for the announcers.

"Hello and welcome to the Kobalt Tools four-hundred-ninety-eight-point-nine-six..."

Race Details

There must be something about that extra HALF mile because this speedway is known for its close finishes. In the 2005 Golden Corral 500 Carl Edwards just beat out Jimmie Johnson by 0.028 seconds on a last lap pass at the start finish line.

Another memorable close finish was the 2001 Cracker Barrel 500. Kevin Harvick held off Jeff Gordon by 0.006 seconds to win in just his third race since taking over for Dale Earnhardt after his tragic death on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.

That win was emotional not only for Harvick but especially for Richard Childress Racing. All the fans, drivers and teams were happy to see that team in victory lane after what had happen just three weeks before.

A lap around the Atlanta Motor Speedway

Recent Labor Day Classic 500 Winners

2010 Tony Stewart
2009 Kasey Kahne
2008 Carl Edwards
2007 Jimmie Johnson
2006 Tony Stewart

What Are The Two Fastest Speedways?

Surprisingly enough the answer is not Daytona and Talladega. The answer is the Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Texas Motor Speedway. Since the changes to the speedway it has become one of the fastest speedways on the NASCAR Cup Series Circuit.

NASCAR requires engines to use restrictor plates at Daytona and Talladega. The restrictor plates slow the cars down which makes Atlanta one of the two fastest tracks on the Circuit.

Memorable Moments

One of NASCAR's most memorable races was held here. In 1992 Davey Allison, Bill Elliot and Alan Kulwicki all had a shot at the championship going into the last race of the season, The 1992 Hooters 500.

Davey Allison had the points lead over Alan Kulwicki and Bill Elliot. But Davey Allison was knocked out of the race in a wreck, Alan Kulwicki led the most laps and Bill Elliot won the race.

But in the end Alan Kulwicki won the Cup Championship by 10 points over Bill Elliot which at the time was the closet championship finish ever.

Also in the 1992 Hooters 500 Richard Petty drove his last race. And if all that wasn't memorable enough it was the first race for some upstart rookie named Jeff Gordon driving for Hendrick Motorsports who within nine years would become a FOUR TIME Cup Series Champion.

The Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of the favorite stops on the circuit for the NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Not only is it a great racing facility but the speedway is fast and the race often ends with a photo finish.

So come out to a race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and see how close it gets!

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