Capsules for the top 20 drivers in the Sprint Cup standings, plus five additional drivers of note.
By Jerry Bonkowski and Bob Moore
48 JIMMIE JOHNSON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Jimmie Johnson remained in first place for the 19th straight week after Bristol. He leads second-ranked Clint Bowyer by a mere 18 points and third-ranked Carl Edwards by 53 points.
ATLANTA RECORD: 21 career starts, 3 wins, 11 top-5s, 13 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: First in fall 2004, spring 2007 and fall 2007. Finished 34th in this race last year and was second in the 2011 race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: After his two worst finishes of the season at Michigan and Bristol, not to mention seeing his once potent 75-point lead over Clint Bowyer slip to just 18 points, Johnson needs to get back on track at Atlanta. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "I (like Atlanta). It is a busy lap and a busy 500 miles there. You leave there spent, physically and emotionally, but it's awesome. The track has so much character to it. You can drive anywhere on the racetrack. That is what we like as drivers - to have options - and there are plenty of options there."
LOOKING BACK: Johnson took another huge hit in the points after Bristol. He came into BMS leading Clint Bowyer by 41 points, a margin that was cut to only 18 points after Johnson finished 36th, his second straight terrible finish (was 40th at Michigan the week before).
ETC.: Johnson has completed 98.5 percent (6,674) of the 6,775 total laps contested in 21 career starts at Atlanta. His average start there is an outstanding 8.6, while his average finish is 11.1. He has two DNFs there.
15 CLINT BOWYER, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Clint Bowyer remained in second place for the seventh consecutive week after Bristol. But his margin behind series leader Jimmie Johnson shrunk from 41 to just 18 points, while his lead over third-ranked Carl Edwards grew to 35 points.
ATLANTA RECORD: 12 career starts, 0 wins, 0 top-fives, 5 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Sixth (four times) in spring and fall 2007, spring 2008 and fall 2010. Was 27th in this race last year and 36th in the 2011 race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Bowyer comes into Atlanta with a chance to finally overtake points leader Jimmie Johnson. Johnson's lead over Bowyer has shrunk from 75 to just 18 points in the last two races. Here's Bowyer's thoughts on Sunday's race: "Heck yes I want to catch Jimmie Johnson before we head into the Chase. I know it doesn't count for anything extra, but any time you can beat Jimmie Johnson in this series, that means something. It's a confidence booster and a pride thing. He's shown that he is one of the best this sport has ever seen and I want to beat him every single chance I get. We've made up a lot of points on him the last few weeks and if we can beat him the next two weeks we might, just might be able to pass him in points and win the regular season."
LOOKING BACK: After a sixth-place finish at Watkins Glen and a fifth at Michigan, Bowyer led 50 laps at Bristol before fading late to finish 14th.
ETC.: Bowyer has completed 97.7 percent (3,835) of the 3,927 total laps contested in 12 career starts at Atlanta. His average start is 16.0 and average finish is 18.2. He has one DNF there.
99 CARL EDWARDS, Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Carl Edwards remained in third place for the seventh consecutive week after Bristol. He trails points leader Jimmie Johnson by 53 points, is 35 points behind second-ranked Clint Bowyer and leads fourth-ranked Kevin Harvick by eight points.
ATLANTA RECORD: 15 career starts, 3 wins, 8 top-fives, 10 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: First in spring and fall 2005 and fall 2008. Was 36th in this race last year and was fifth in the 2011 race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Edwards is looking to earn as many points as he can in the last two races before the standings are reset for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The best way to maximize points-earning potential is wins, and he's definitely looking for his fourth career win at Atlanta this Sunday: "We're looking forward to going and getting a win at Atlanta. We tested there, it went very well. It's one of my favorite race tracks and I've got a lot of great memories from there. It's a Subway weekend so we will be well fed at least, and hopefully we can get Subway another victory. We've got two more races before the chase starts so we're just having fun and going for wins."
LOOKING BACK: Edwards led 119 laps and looked like he'd have a great finish at Bristol. Unfortunately, with just over 100 laps left, his car suffered irreparable mechanical issues, relegating Edwards to a disappointing 39th-place finish. On the bright side, points leader Jimmie Johnson also had a bad day, finishing 36th.
ETC.: Edwards has completed 93.5 percent (4,582) of the 4,902 total laps contested in 15 career starts at Atlanta. His average start is 10.3 and average finish is 15.1. He has three DNFs there.
29 KEVIN HARVICK, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Kevin Harvick remained in fourth place for the 10th straight week after Bristol. He trails series leader Jimmie Johnson by 61 points, is eight points behind third-ranked Carl Edwards and leads fifth-ranked Kyle Busch by 21 points (down from 43 last week).
ATLANTA RECORD: 22 career starts, 1 wins, 5 top-fives, 8 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: First in spring 2001 (his first career win in the Sprint Cup series, just three races after the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt). Was fifth in this race last year and finished seventh in the 2011 race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Harvick is all but locked into the Chase, but he could use another win or two before the playoffs begin two weeks from now. After a terrible record there early in his career, he's been a consistent top-five and top-10 finisher there in recent years. Here's his thoughts on Sunday's race: "Atlanta has been a great race track for us the last few years. The asphalt is really worn out, and the speed of the car changes a lot from the start of a run to the finish of the run. It makes for some good racing as the cars start moving around and sliding around the track."
LOOKING BACK: After having one of his best runs of the season the week before at Michigan (finished second), Harvick had a strong car at Bristol and led seven races, but a wreck late in the race sealed his fate and relegated him to a disappointing 34th-place finish.
ETC.: Harvick has completed 97.6 percent (6,927) of the 7,100 total laps contested in 22 career starts at Atlanta. His average start is 18.7 and average finish is 19.2. He has four DNFs there.