From Staff Reports
HAMPTON -- Breaking down the numbers from 2010 NASCAR night races reveals a clear class of contenders for Atlanta Motor Speedway's Labor Day NASCAR night racing weekend.
Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards and David Reutimann have outperformed the field in 2010 night races based on their average finishes. And while the trio has just one combined win in night races -- Reutimann's victory in the most-recent evening race at Chicago -- their consistently strong night race finishes may make them instant favorites entering Atlanta's Sept. 5 race date.
Despite failing to win an event thus far in 2010, Gordon has been near unmatched in the year's night races, posting an average finish of 3.3 and finishing no worse than sixth in the six evening affairs. With four top-three finishes in 2010 night events and four-career wins in Atlanta, Gordon should enter Atlanta Motor Speedway with high expectations for a race he finished eighth in a year ago.
Like Gordon, Edwards has been held winless in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, yet has been exceptional in races held at night. Edwards has an average finish at night of 8.5 and has twice finished in the top-five positions, with his best showing a second-place in last weekend's night contest in Chicago. Also like Gordon, Edwards has a history of success at Atlanta Motor Speedway, further making the Missouri native more likeable on Labor Day Weekend; Edwards has three Sprint Cup Series wins in Atlanta, including his first ever.
Having just claimed his first victory of 2010 in last week's night race, David Reutimann has had tremendous success in 2010's evening events. With three top-10 finishes and an average night-time finish of 10.3, Reutimann will likely be among the preferred drivers entering Atlanta on Labor Day weekend, an event he finished fourth in a year ago.
Furthermore for Reutimann, if you remove his worst night-race finish -- a 20th-place showing in the year's first evening event -- his average finish increases to 8.4.
When showing similar statistical courtesy to other drivers, an additional pair of contenders emerges for Atlanta's Labor Day weekend of night racing. By removing Kevin Harvick's most-recent finish at Chicago, a 34th-place showing, the points leader's average night race finish jumps to 6.8 from 11.16, besting Edwards and Reutimann. After finishing second at Atlanta last summer and performing well in this year's night races, Harvick should be a contender again in 2010.
Kyle Busch, statistically hampered by a 40th-place finish in Daytona's evening event, also has a tremendous average night race finish when removing this outlier; withholding Daytona, Busch has an average result of 7.2 in 2010 night races. With his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory coming at Atlanta and with four additional Camping World Truck Series wins at the track, Busch should also enter Atlanta with high hopes.
While these drivers -- Gordon, Edwards, Reutimann, Harvick and Busch -- aren't guaranteed success entering Atlanta on Labor Day weekend, their results in 2010 night races warrant consideration for favor entering Atlanta Motor Speedway's weekend of NASCAR night racing.
The biggest Labor Day party in the USA is at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup stars head to the high banks for night racing on Sept. 4 and 5. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX, or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.