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From the Pit Box: Atlanta Motor Speedway

Danny Stockman’s rise through NASCAR has closely resembled that of driver Austin Dillon. Since pairing up in 2010, the duo has earned Rookie of the Year titles in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series, in addition to the 2011 Camping World Truck Series Championship. They are currently in the midst of battling for the Nationwide Series Championship in just their sophomore season in the circuit. Stockman is a native of Yucaipa, Calif., who began his career racing go-karts and super late models on the West Coast. He has worked with Brendan Gaughan at Orleans Racing and Ron Hornaday and Kevin Harvick at Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) before joining Richard Childress Racing in December 2009. He currently lives in Welcome, N.C., with his wife, Alexis.

How do you set the No. 3 Chevrolet up at Atlanta Motor Speedway?
“Atlanta Motor Speedway is a very abrasive and a very rough track, so you have to set the car up accordingly. Setup wise, it’s important to find a happy medium to make the front end turn while still giving the car grip. It only takes two to three laps to make the tires wear out and you need a lot of rear grip. The car needs to be tight.”

How does the track at Atlanta change during the race?
“Atlanta Motor Speedway changes significantly during the course of a race. You’ll see the pace drop by more than a second-and-a-half as tires wear out, which makes conserving tires during the race weekend ultra important. During practice, teams try to limit their practice runs so that we don’t put too many runs on our tires. Therefore, we try to judge our car’s performance on the first 10 laps on tires.  It’s much different from race conditions, where we will likely run a fuel run or two. During the race, it’s important to save a set of tires or two for the end of the race so that we can make a run for the win. Atlanta Motor Speedway is an extremely loose track. It’s probably the hardest track on the circuit to get a handle on, which makes it especially rewarding when you perform well there.”

What are the keys to success at Atlanta Motor Speedway?
“One of the biggest keys to success at Atlanta Motor Speedway is staying on the lead lap the whole race.  It sounds simple, but during portions of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race you will see only 10-12 cars on the lead lap. That’s something that is difficult to recover from. Having a new set of tires at the end of the race is also important.”

What is your favorite memory from racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway?
“I remember winning a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race with Kevin Harvick years ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway. I don’t even remember when it was. It was back in the KHI days. That was a pretty good memory.”

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