Tony Stewart the obvious fan favorite during pre-race introductions at Atlanta


HAMPTON, Ga. — Forget Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Danica Patrick and pretty much anyone else — with the exception of one NASCAR Sprint Cup driver.

When it came to determining the most popular driver during pre-race introductions of Sunday night’s Oral-B USA 500, there was no doubt about the outcome.

Fans at Atlanta Motor Speedway voted with their cheers and applause, yelling and clapping the loudest for Tony Stewart.

Having missed the last three races due to the Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy, Stewart made his first NASCAR race appearance since the August 9th incident at an upstate New York dirt track.

Stewart qualified 12th for the 325-lap event around the 1.5-mile track.

While some might think it a surprise that Stewart received so much love, one other driver received the most boos and catcalls: Kyle Busch.

No surprise there.

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Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”