Jeff Gordon riding high into Atlanta

from the Crossville Chronicle – Crossville, Tn. Friday October 26, 2007

by Joe Dunn
The Nascar Nextel Cup series head to Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) this weekend and Jeff Gordon is not only on the top of the standings, he leads all Chase drivers with 4 wins at AMS.
Gordon also has one pole, 12 top fives and 18 top 10s at AMS. But Gordon will be getting little breathing room from his teammate Jimmie Johnson who is the reigning champion who won the spring race at Atlanta, and just completed the sweep at Martinsville. Meanwhile Clint Bowyer, third in the Chase standings has shown no sign of letting up on his quest for a first championship as he remains 115 points behind Gordon and only 62 points behind Johnson.
Jeremy Mayfield will replace Jeff Green in the Haas CNC, #66 Chevy at Atlanta as the team announced that Green has been released. Mayfield will drive for Haas in 2008 along with Scott Riggs who will replace Johnny Sauter. Bill Davis Racing also announced that Truck series point leader Mike Skinner will replace Mayfield in the #36 Toyota. Former Kevin Harvick Inc. Busch Series driver and Nashville resident Bernie Lamar will attempt to qualify the 08 EM Motorsports Dodge.
The Busch series heads to Memphis this week for a Saturday afternoon race where point leader Carl Edwards hopes to come away with a title clinching 585 point lead over second place David Reutimann. Chip Ganassi Racing announced Monday driver Dario Franchitti will make his NASCAR Busch Series debut Saturday, Oct. 27 at Memphis Motorsports Park in the Sam’s Town 250.The third official step in the Scot’s stock car learning curve will take place this weekend in the No.42 Target Dodge Charger on the .750-mile oval after previously contesting the ARCA race at Talladega Super Speedway and last weekend’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway. Franchitti will again race under the guidance of Crew Chief Brian Pattie.
The Nascar Craftsman truck series will be in action Saturday at Martinsville where Ron Hornaday Jr and Mike Skinner will be fighting it of the Truck series championship. Skinner holds an 11 point lead over Hornaday with just four races remaining. Skinner’s win at Martinsville pushed him ahead of Hornaday, and like Johnson in the Cup series he got the sweep at Martinsville and is looking for the sweep at Atlanta.
O. Bruton Smith, Chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc (SMI), owner of the Lowe’s Motor Speedway (LMS) as well as Bristol and four others made the news two weeks ago when he announced there was a 90% chance of replacing LMS with a new track in another community near Charlotte. SMI was making plans to add a dragstrip at the track when county officials voted on an ordinance change that would prevent the addition. The county’s action were in response to complaints of neighbors who objected to the increased noise.
Smith has the money to do what he says and folks around racing know that he is a man on a mission when he has a plan. Smith said his team is considering 20 sites, all within the same distance to the Charlotte airport but in other counties. The track, built in 1960 is one of the oldest tracks on the Nascar Nextel cup circuit and has less luxury suites than most of SMI’s other tracks. The planned renovations are expected to cost about $200 Million, while the new facility could be built for about $350 Million. Land acquisition is not considered a problem as various government agencies have been lining up with offers of free land since the possible move was announced. To offset the cost, real estate pro’s have said the old track property could easily draw a $100 Million price. tag.
Local residents flooded the racing campgrounds and motels near the track with petitions to keep the track at it’s present location. It was widely rumored that those circulating the petitions were the same residents that voiced their opposition to the drag strip. The petitions surfaced after the county rescinded the vote to deny the dragstrip, and Smith responded that the move still appeared to be the right thing to do.