Rain postpones NASCAR race

By Anthony Rhoads

Rain was the big winner in Sunday's Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Winston Cup drivers will head back out to the track today at 11 a.m. as Sunday's race was postponed because of rain.

When the race was stopped at lap 39, Kevin Harvick was in the lead with Bobby Labonte in second. Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart rounded out the top five and pole sitter Ryan Newman was in ninth place when the red flag was waved.

Current Winston Cup points leader Matt Kenseth started the race in 37th place but made his way up to 21st place when the race was stopped.

Harvick rose to fame in the spring 2001 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Just weeks after Dale Earnhardt's death at the Daytona 500, Harvick took Earnhardt's place and drove to victory in Atlanta in March 2001. Harvick used the same car Earnhardt drove when he won in Atlanta a year earlier.

Labonte, who qualified in second place for this weekend's race, has been the most successful driver at Atlanta in the last several years.

Since the 1.54-mile track was reconfigured in 1997, Labonte has won five out of 12 races and has placed in the top five eight times.

"I wasn't sure I would like the track after they changed the configuration a couple of years ago, but I guess we know the answer to that question now don't we. I really can't explain it. We just seem to be able to unload here and be pretty good right off the truck and usually seem to be in position to challenge for the win on Sunday. That's what it's all about."

Elliott, the popular driver from Dawsonville, has enjoyed success at his home track. Elliott has won six regular NASCAR Winston Cup races and one Winston all-star race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"Atlanta is always fun," Elliott said. "I really enjoyed the old track, but the new one is getting better. All in all, it's kind of a home territory. A lot of good friends and people come down here and I enjoy running for them."

Last fall's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway was also plagued by rain. Last fall, rain first interrupted the race at lap 26 and after a long delay, the race resumed. The race continued until lap 243 until the race was stopped again but because it had gone past the half-way mark, it was declared official. Kurt Busch took the victory.