is good at a lot of thing. He wins championships, he wins races, and he throws helmets with precision accuracy. One thing he isn't great at is qualifying. In fact, his pole-winning lap at Atlanta Motor Speedway Friday marked just the 14th time in his career that he earned the top spot in qualifying. For comparisons sake, he has gone to Victory Lane 47 times in the Cup Series. Needless to say, Stewart's pole run was a rarity, and it is also a bad omen for the competition. On the rare occasions that he does start up front, "Smoke" tends to finish there, as well.
Recent history also says starting up front at Atlanta is a good thing. The last 15 races at the track have been won by drivers starting 11th or better, and 13 races during that stretch have been won by drivers starting inside the top 10. Stewart has accounted for two of the wins during that span, and he has started 11th or better in all three of his career win at Atlanta.
Of course, Stewart isn't the only driver that has had a lot of success at Atlanta that is starting up front Sunday. Points leader Greg Biffle will join Stewart on the front, and as well as he has run at the 1.5-mile tracks this year, a win is certainly a possibility. Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five in qualifying, and while Kenseth is always one of the best at 1.5-mile tracks, Busch and Gordon are both former winners. In fact, Gordon is the defending winner of this weekend's race. With both Busch and Gordon desperately needing a win to make the Chase, expect both drivers to be very focused this weekend.
Fantasy owners looking for a sleeper starting near the front should consider Marcos Ambrose. He qualified 10th for Sunday's race, and in two of his last three starts at the track, he has finished 11th or better. More importantly, he has been red hot lately. He has four straight top-10s, including three straight top-five finishes, and scored more points than any driver in the series in the month of August. Ambrose has a little momentum on his side to say the least.
About Brian Polking
Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.
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