2009 Pep Boys Auto 500 Predictions – Betting Preview + Picks + Odds
Race: Pep Boys Auto 500
Date: Sunday, September 6, 2009
Time: 7:46 PM EST (scheduled Green Flag)
TV: 7:30 PM EST on ESPN
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Preview: It’s Atlanta II this week, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to a track it visited back in March. Kurt Busch dominated the race the last time around, leading 234 of 330 laps for his only win of ’09 thus far. NASCAR has been racing at Atlanta since 1960 and here’s an interesting bit of trivia: the last four Cup races have each been won by a different manufacturer – Chevy, Toyota, Ford, and Dodge, in that order. Atlanta is a 1.54-mile quad oval with 24 degrees of banking in the turns and 5 degrees on the straights and many drivers list it as one of their favorite places to race because of the high speeds attained.
1. Jimmie Johnson (+475): Johnson swept the Atlanta track in 2007 and had a prior win in 2004 as well. He finished second in this race last year and ninth back in March. Johnson has the best average finish among all active Cup drivers at Atlanta with a 9.1 and an even better average finish if you exclude his first four starts here.
2. Tony Stewart (+1000): The current Sprint Cup points leader has two wins at Atlanta, in the spring of 2002 and the fall of 2006, along with three second-place finishes. In his first Atlanta race with Stewart-Haas earlier this year, he started 11th and finished 8th. He has the fourth-best average finish overall with a 12.0 in 21 starts.
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr (+2000): Earnhardt frequently refers to Atlanta as his favorite track and he has won once here back in 2004, along with one second and four third-place finishes. He trails only Johnson and Carl Edwards in the average finish category, coming in third on that list with an 11.6. Junior is bringing a brand new car to Atlanta which he hopes will help him find a bit more speed than he had in the spring, when he finished 11th.
Summary: Look for a tight battle among the drivers on the bubble to make the Chase who will be exercising ‘cautious aggression’ both here and at Richmond. While Carl Edwards is normally a favorite here, his fractured right foot puts a question-mark on his situation this weekend, although he has vowed to race in both the Nationwide and Cup races in Atlanta.
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Becca Gladden is a freelance writer and race handicapper specializing in NASCAR.