With seven weekends remaining in the 21-consecutive-week stretch of NASCAR Nationwide Series races, drivers continue to jockey for position before their well-deserved two-week break. Due to their past success at Atlanta, four of the top-five drivers hope that the Great Clips/Grit Chips 300 will provide them with a good opportunity to buckle down for the late-season stretch and confirm their place among the championship contenders’ conversation.
In last September’s Atlanta race, Sam Hornish Jr., Austin Dillon, Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier all posted their best finishes at the 1.5-mile track in the series. All four of them finished with top-10 performances: Sadler (fourth), Allgaier (fifth), Dillon (sixth) and Hornish (ninth).
Hornish, who holds a six-point edge over Dillon, has only one other series start at Atlanta, which resulted in a 15th-place showing back in 2007. Dillon’s sixth-place finish last year was his only NNS start at Atlanta. In seven starts, Sadler has four top-10 finishes, but those are coupled with finishes of 30th, 37th and 42nd. Allgaier’s last two starts at Atlanta have resulted in fifth- and sixth-places finishes. Through four races, his worst showing was 17th in 2009.
Of the drivers in the top five, Regan Smith is the only driver without a top-10 finish. He only competed in two NNS events (2006, 2007) at Atlanta, coming in 21st and 23rd.
Friday night’s race should play a big role in helping provide focus to the ever-changing championship picture. After winning at Atlanta last year, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. went on to win his second straight series title.