Race Weekend Central

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Edition

The buzz generated by Sunday’s exciting night race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will likely reverberate through the NASCAR masses for a long time. The Pep Boys Auto 500 saw exciting racing for much of the event and saw someone not driving a non-Hendrick-affiliated car go to Victory Lane (though many were picking Jimmie Johnson to win). The race also did nothing to answer which drivers will be in safe mode for next week’s “race before the Chase” at Richmond. Kasey Kahne’s win moved him from 11th to 6th in the standings, while Carl Edwards’ oil pan problem regulated him to a poor finish and to within 85 points of falling outside the top 12. Kurt Busch totaled his No. 2 Dodge and lost a lot of his points. Kyle Busch led laps but faded toward the end and ended up _losing_ points to 12th place Matt Kenseth, despite Kenseth putting his No. 17 Ford into the wall twice in the first 20 laps. Brian Vickers’ No. 83 team bounced back from axle trouble, to finish 7th and leapfrog ahead of Busch in the points. Now 122 points are all that separate 14th in points Kyle Busch from 5th in points Edwards. The racing in Atlanta was eventful, exciting, and very influential in the points. Here are the *HOT*, *WARM* and *NOT* drivers this week: