Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hot Racing in Hot-lanta

The track was hot and the racing was hotter. And the Labor Day race at Atlanta Motor Speedway definitely lived up to its hype.

With Kasey Kahne taking the checkers in an unpredictable finish, the 500-mile marathon sure did have its share of surprises. Here are just a few of the high points and best stories from the "night the lights went on in Georgia":

An inspiring little girl: Nursing a broken foot and a damaged oil cooler, Carl Edwards didn't have a great points night in Atlanta. But some things are more important than points. The paint scheme on Edwards' 99 car was designed by Jody Lawrence--a smiling 12-year-old girl who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Jody was the winner of Aflac's "Color Carl's Car" contest and her story, and her inspiring attitude, puts a bad night into glaring perspective. Our prayers are with her and her family. For those of you who missed her story, watch it here on the CBS News site.

Jimmie Johnson goes for a spin: Johnson's Chevy was loose from the get-go and he had his hands full just hanging onto the wheel. But eventually even Johnson's estimable talents were no match for his monster of a car...and thus he went sliding 'cross the track. He did manage to keep his car out of the wall, but the spin was just a foretaste of things to come. The race ended for the #48 with a broken rear axle. It was a rare bad night for Knaus and crew. Fiddle-dee-dee.

Kenseth saves the chase: What looked like a hopeless start for Matt the Brat wound up ending on a pretty good note. He may have gone a lap or two down early on, but you can never count Kenseth out. And with a 12th place finish, the driver of the #17 car kept himself in the hunt for a spot in the chase.

Bobby L. proves his mettle: It's been a roller coaster of a week for Bobby Labonte. But he's handled the upheaval with class and aplomb--even though his fans were pretty darn perturbed when he was parked by Yates Racing earlier this week. However, in short order, the resilient Labonte snagged a new ride with TRG Motorsports for seven races and he ended up with an impressive 18th place finish in Atlanta. The rookie that took Labonte's Yates ride? Well, Erik Darnell finished 3oth. Not that anyone's counting...

It was almost a sweep: For a while Sunday night, it sure did look like Kevin Harvick was going to sweep the weekend's Atlanta races. Fresh off a knockout win on Saturday night, Harvick seemed to have another unbeatable car in the Cup race. Although a runner-up finish is nothing to sneeze at, it sure would have been nice to see Harvick sweep the weekend. Maybe in Richmond.

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