Dry Times in the ATL
Dry lawns and dirty cars are a fact of life these days in the South, where an epic drought has the region’s biggest city nearly dying of thirst. Some 5 million Atlanta residents have less than a 90-day supply of water, and Gov. Sonny Perdue has urged the entire state to conserve every drop of H2O.
Shorter showers are recommended. Using the toilet as an ashtray is not.
Just how bad is it in the ATL? Bad enough that a total outdoor watering ban has blanketed the city because only two inches of rain has fallen in the past two months. Bad enough that two area lakes — Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona — are 16 feet below normal. And, yes, bad enough that NASCAR has stepped in and instructed teams not to wash their mammoth big rigs and motor homes upon arrival at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The sport’s conservation effort goes as far as teams “catching” water after engine flushes during practice and qualifying runs. Every little bit helps, especially in a seemingly permanent state of being parched.
Red Bull Racing Team wouldn’t hold it against Mother Nature should the skies open up around qualifying time at 7:10 p.m. ET Friday night. Atlanta, finally, would get some relief, and the Nos. 83 and 84, though prepared to time their way in, would get into the Pep Boys Auto 500.
Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger fit nicely into the protocol for determining a starting lineup if rain nixes time trials. Vickers, twice a top-10 finisher at Atlanta, is guaranteed a starting spot based on his victory last fall at Talladega. Allmendinger, whose No. 84 sits 45th in the owner standings (seven points ahead of the No. 36), would sneak into the show at the tail end of the field.