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HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) - Jeff Gordon is expecting Tony Stewart to be a contender in his return to the track.

Kevin Harvick will be on the pole but Stewart, who will start 12th, will be in the spotlight in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Stewart is competing for the first time since the sprint car he was driving struck and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. in an Aug. 9 race in upstate New York.

Gordon, impressed by Stewart's strong practice runs Friday, said Stewart "may make quite a return."

Brad Keselowski will start beside Harvick on the front row.

It is the next-to-last race before the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Stewart can make the 16-car Chase field with a win.

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