Labor Day weekend – summer’s last hurrah. While nearly three weeks remain until the fall season begins on the calendar, the annual holiday has been the weekend that commemorates the unofficial end to summer. Whether it’s one last weekend trip to the beach, a backyard barbecue, or one more summer party – many celebrate the event in a variety of methods and styles.
Those who elect to celebrate the Labor Day weekend “NASCAR style” will be doing so this year in “Hotlanta” as the Atlanta Motor Speedway plays host to the Sprint Cup Series for Sunday night’s AdvoCare 500. The nickname “Hotlanta” is used in reference to the Atlanta nightlife and the abundance of activities in which to participate while in the city. To a lesser degree, the nickname also refers to the hot summer temperatures associated with the area. Both references apply when discussing the NASCAR weekend on the forthcoming Labor Day weekend.
All three of NASCAR’s top touring series will be in town with the Camping World Truck Series kicking off three nights of intense racing action Friday night with the headline attraction being the AdvoCare 500 Sprint Cup Series race Sunday night. A lot will be on the line in the latter event with a number of drivers still trying to clinch or gain positions in the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship that begins Sept. 16 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. It’s certainly stacking up to be a weekend to be remembered.
Right in the thick of things during two of the three race nights at Atlanta is driver Kurt Busch. The 2004 Sprint Cup champion enters the weekend as a three-time Atlanta winner with his most recent Sprint Cup victory at the 1.5-mile track occurring in March 2010. It’s a track for which the driver of the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing has a great affinity and, with his stats at Atlanta, it’s easy to see why he bestows such favor on the facility.
In addition to three Sprint Cup wins at Atlanta, Busch has scored four top-fives and nine top-10 finishes. He finished fourth in this race one year ago after starting 10th. That fourth-place finish marked four consecutive finishes of sixth place or better. More impressive is the fact that in all of his 21 starts at Atlanta, Busch has finished outside the top-15 only seven times, three of which were the result of an accident or engine failures. Busch has also led a minimum of 10 laps in seven of the last 10 races to have taken place at Atlanta.
Busch will be looking for more success at Atlanta and he is doubling his chances to do just that by competing in Friday night’s Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 200 Truck Series race, driving the No. 51 Chevrolet racetruck for Billy Ballew Motorsports. It will be the second time in three weeks Busch is competing in the series that launched him to NASCAR success more than 10 years ago. Busch goes into Friday night’s Truck Series race having earned four wins, 14 top-fives and 18 top-10 finishes in 26 career starts in the series.
So, whether celebrating Labor Day weekend NASCAR style or any other way, one thing is certain – three nights of scintillating racing action will unfold in “Hotlanta” as the summer season draws to its unofficial close.