Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rating the AdvoCare 500: 4 Stars ****

It took a long time for the Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway to finally go green, but once it did the drivers put on a show. The belated Labor Day weekend race gets a 4 Star Rating.

For five days, weather was one of the main topics of discussion. Thankfully, the driver who finally won the race was able to push the weather to the back burner as the main topic of interest became Jeff Gordon’s 85th career victory to put him alone in third place on one of the most important lists in the sport.

The all-time wins list in NASCAR is similar to the all-time home runs list in baseball. It is one of the largest measuring sticks of greatness in the sport.

Congratulations are certainly in order for the greatest driver of this generation. Plus, Tuesday’s race came down to him and the next best driver of this generation: Jimmie Johnson.

Atlanta is a tough track. It’s fast, rough and the asphalt is worn out, but it usually makes for a great race. Once Goodyear found a tire that would work at Atlanta with the Car of Tomorrow, the racing in Dixie has been some of the best each season. Too bad they only race there once a season. But, that’s a topic for another day.

The battle between Gordon and Johnson was terrific. It looked for a while like we would have one of those classic side-by-side Atlanta finishes, but Johnson’s car got too loose in the final couple of laps. Still, Johnson is one of just a few drivers that would’ve been able to keep that car under him. He basically drove the final three laps sideways.

For fans who have complained all season that there have been too many fuel-mileage races and surprise winners, this was a flat-out battle to the end with the sport’s two best drivers. What a way for Gordon to get such a historic win.

When people look back on the past 15 years of NASCAR, Gordon and Johnson dominate the landscape, and it was fitting for those two to battle it out in a race that now means something in the record books.

However, the best of the sport didn’t just finish in the top two positions. Arguably the next best active driver, Tony Stewart, finished third and former champion Kurt Busch finished fourth.

This race was the perfect balance (No, not of flavor and refreshment. That would fit last week when Brad Keselowski’s win) to the new and different winners this season. It showed the best drivers will still rise to the top when it counts. Plus, having future Hall of Famers fight for the win is pretty incredible. That’s like watching Peyton Manning and Tom Brady battle in a classic game.

So, although we had to wait days upon days for the race to start, it paid off with a satisfying race and now there is only a few days until the next race at Richmond.

Enjoy the shortest week between races ever.


  1. Definitely edge of your seat watching for the fans and especially if you happen to be a Gordon or Johnson fan. A four star rating is right (!) although I'd bet Clint Bowyer and his fans walked away with a bad taste in their mouths after JPM essentially knocked them out of Chase contention.

    AMS is another southern speedway that produces great racing that's been knocked down to one race per year. Good old Bruton Smith can be thanked for that while NASCAR itself knocked down Darlington (poor attendance led to a race date sent to California where (sarcasm) huge crowds come out to watch...

    Anyway... Did someone say tradition ought to trump more money?

  2. Dwindy1 - That was rough to see Montoya take Bowyer out. Just imagine if Dale Jr. had been in Bowyer's place. The fans may have torn down the grandstands. Or at least one section since there weren't many left by Tuesday afternoon.

    NASCAR's exodus of Southern racetracks in the past decade has been terribly disappointing, but sounds like The Rock will host a truck race next year. Maybe there is still hope!