Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his first pole position since 2008 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and the Junior Nation is jacked up. They ought to be, because maybe this means the 88 team is finally getting the wheels back on the track.
Poles do not make race wins, however. Dale Jr. has won at Atlanta before, so he knows how to do it. For all of those who think Dale Jr. is a shoe in to win the race today, I would advise against it. Not that cautious optimism is wrong, but don’t be horribly disappointed if Dale Jr. gets a top 5 or top 10 finish today. Either of those would be fine.
Dale Jr. needs a good finish today, because even though he finished well in 2 out of the 3 first races of the season, he needs to finish consistently in the top 10 if he’s going to be a contender this year. Whatever handling problems seem to plague the 88 team need to go away, and they need to go away fast. Hopefully, the return of the spoiler will alleviate at least some of the handling problems.
Personally, even though he’s starting from near the back of the field, Kevin Harvick is one of my favorites for a win at Atlanta. Harvick has been there basically in all three of the first few races, and he’s due, and you can tell he wants it pretty bad. Of course, I wouldn’t count out either Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, or Mark Martin, because they’ve all looked pretty good in practice this weekend.
Even though Greg Biffle is going to a backup car, he showed that he has maybe the winning line down, and that’s up high on the race track. Greg could win this race as well if they can get the backup car working right.
This might be the week that Martin Truex Jr. breaks out of the doldrums as well, because in Happy Hour on Saturday, Martin seemed to have something going on with the car. Personally, I’d like to see Truex get his first win for Michael Waltrip Racing.
Today’s going to be exciting, folks. Atlanta always is. I pray we have a good race and everyone walks away safely today.