A look inside the Nationwide Series from the Charlotte Observer's Jim Utter:
UP - MARK MARTIN
Handed JR Motorsports its first-ever series victory.
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SIDEWAYS - MARK MARTIN
In his run to victory, he hit Carl Edwards, who slammed into Martin’s JR Motorsports teammate, Brad Keselowski.
DOWN - JASON LEFFLER
Accident in Las Vegas sends him plummeting in standings.
3 things to watch
1 - Winning streak: Jeff Burton has won the past two races at Atlanta and is looking to become the first series driver to win three straight at the track. He was contending for a win last week until his engine blew up late in the race.
2 - Brad Coleman: He celebrated his 20th birthday last week and earned ninth place at Las Vegas, which put him into the top 10 in series points for the first time in his young career. Coleman makes his first start at Atlanta this weekend.
3 - Dale Earnhardt Jr.: He will race this weekend, his first series race at Atlanta since the 1999 season, when he finished third. It’s his 100th series start.
Many remember that Jeff Gordon made his Sprint Cup Series debut in the 1992 season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but most don’t know that Atlanta was also the site of Gordon’s first victory in NASCAR competition.
He won the Nationwide Series race at the track in March 1992 after starting from the pole. Finishing second that day? Harry Gant.
Dario Franchitti might be struggling in Cup competition, but he has been running consistently strong in the Nationwide Series so far this season and leads the rookie standings. I still think the best approach for new drivers in NASCAR competition is to run one or two full seasons in a lower series before delving into the Cup side.
Bad idea for NASCAR to get rid of separate rookie practice sessions this season in the Truck and Nationwide series. On one hand, they want to promote using the series to develop drivers (i.e., raising minimum age in Cup) while, on the other, taking away ways that help make that possible.
WHERE: Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, Ga.
WHEN: 2 p.m. EST on Saturday.
LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Jeff Burton.
TOP 10 IN POINTS: 1. Tony Stewart, 472; 2. Kyle Busch, 430; 3. Kevin Harvick, 430; 4. Carl Edwards, 415; 5. David Ragan, 409; 6. Clint Bowyer, 396; 7. David Reutimann, 369; 8. Mike Wallace, 357; 9. Dario Franchitti, 344; 10. Brad Coleman, 329.