NASCAR National Series News & Notes - Atlanta Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series

 

Keselowski looking to repeat in Atlanta

Brad Keselowski has been the cream of the crop - the car on top - when it comes to Atlanta Motor Speedway’s most recent NASCAR Cup Series races. He’s won two of the last three and finished second in the other. And after a frustrating near-miss at Phoenix Raceway’s trophy last Sunday, the 2012 series champion arrives at Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (2 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) primed and ready to celebrate that first victory of 2020. 

 

Results have traditionally met high hopes for the Team Penske driver there.

 

In 11 starts at the 1.5-mile Atlanta track, Keselowski has earned four top-five and seven top-10 finishes. He’s finished in the top 10 in the last five consecutive races. And he is the defending champion of this weekend’s race. 

 

Last year after winning at Atlanta (which was the second race on the schedule instead of the fifth, as it is now) – Keselowski earned top-3 finishes in three of the next four events. He won his second race of the year at Martinsville Speedway four weeks after celebrating in Atlanta’s Victory Lane.

 

The driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford could use a dose of that good energy now. After a frustrating early exit in the season-opening Daytona 500 – he finished 36th after being collected in an accident – he rallied to seventh-place (Las Vegas) and fifth-place (California)  finishes. Last week he pitted from third with only a handful of laps remaining at Phoenix, and returned to salvage an 11th-place finish. He won Stage 2 and his recovery was good enough to move him inside the top 10 in the driver points (10th place) for the first time this season.

 

He led 82 laps at Phoenix – a mark only bettered by Chase Elliott’s 93 laps out front – and advanced Keselowski from a 30th-place ranking after the Daytona 500 to a season high 10th place heading to Atlanta. He’s 46 points behind the leader Kevin Harvick.

 

And Keselowski has proven himself to be an absolute favorite at the Georgia track – where he owns two wins. Of his 30 career wins, 13 of them have come on 1.5-mile venues such as Atlanta; the largest win tally among the NASCAR Cup Series style of race tracks.

 

 

Harvick takes over points lead

No one’s been more consistent than Kevin Harvick this season… his series best four top-10 finishes in four races backs that up. And thanks to a season-best runner-up finish at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, Harvick has earned the NASCAR Cup Series points lead – by a single point over two-race winner Joey Logano.

 

But as great as the perch atop the standings may be, the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford would like to firmly secure that championship opportunity with a victory. And soon.

 

Atlanta Motor Speedway has been both a productive and sentimental venue for the 44-year old Californian.

 

He scored his first career NASCAR Cup Series win at Atlanta in 2001 in the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet – the same car that Dale Earnhardt drove (as No. 3) when he died in that season’s Daytona 500. A then-25-year-old Harvick, in only his third career series start, earned one of the most emotional wins in the sport’s history that afternoon.

 

He answered it 17 years and 27 Atlanta races later with a victory in 2018. And he’s a favorite this weekend too.

 

Harvick has 14 career top-10 finishes at Atlanta - 11 in the last 13 races. The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford has led an unmatched 960 laps in just the last six races, including 181 in his 2018 victory and an impressive 292 of the 325 laps in his 2017 ninth-place run.

 

Harvick’s success has been indicative of the whole Stewart-Haas organization of late, as the team swept a top 10 day at the track Sunday in Phoenix. Led by Harvick’s runner-up finish, Clint Bowyer was fifth, Aric Almirola was eighth and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Cole Custer was ninth.

 

Almirola is currently ranked eighth in the standings, 43 points behind his teammate Harvick. Bowyer is 13th, 59 points back, and the rookie Custer is 22nd in the standings.

 

 

Home again, home again for Chase Elliott

This week’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway is a home race for the sport’s Most Popular Driver, 24-year old Chase Elliott of Dawsonville, Georgia. There will be plenty of family and friends joining a huge fandom in the stands and Elliott would love nothing more than to earn his first victory of the season at the venue.

 

It would be fantastically popular and fantastically important.

 

Elliott, the driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is in third place in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, only 20 points behind leader Kevin Harvick. He’s climbed up the standings with a pair of top-10 finishes in the last two races - fourth in California and seventh at Phoenix last week, where he also won the Busch Pole position.

 

Elliott has a series best three stage wins. And he’s led laps in three of the four races, including a race best 93 laps at Phoenix. His 70 laps out front at Las Vegas were second only to Harvick’s 92 laps led. Neither of the drivers, however, has won a race. Yet.

 

Atlanta Motor Speedway certainly is a prime prospect for Elliott to celebrate mightily in Victory Lane. He has three top-10 finishes in four NASCAR Cup Series starts at the track, including a best of fifth place in 2017. His worst showing was in 2019 when Elliott finished 19th.

 

Interestingly, for as good as Elliott’s results have been, he’s never led a lap at Atlanta.

 

 

Hendrick Motorsports off to a strong start

Chase Elliott’s early season success is just one of the bright spots for the Hendrick Motorsports organization in 2020. Three of its drivers are ranked among the top 10 in the standings – Elliott is third, 20 points behind leader Kevin Harvick. Alex Bowman – the Auto Club Speedway winner – is fourth, 26 points out. Jimmie Johnson is fifth, 33 points back and after a hard-knocks start to the season William Byron has broken into the top-20 and is part of a two-way tie with Bubba Wallace at 18th place in the standings

 

It’s the first time the team has had three drivers ranked in the top 10 after four races since 2015 (Kasey Kahne, fourth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., sixth and Johnson, seventh).

 

Bowman has the early season victory and the one top five in four races. Elliott and Johnson each have a pair of top 10s and one top five. And Elliott leads the whole series in stage wins (three) and laps led (186). Bowman also has topped the 100-lap mark in laps led with 113.

 

And the best news for the organization is the success has been spread out. Elliott’s 17th-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500 was the best for the team. Johnson’s fifth place at Las Vegas was tops. Bowman won at California. And Elliott (seventh) and Byron (10th) both had top-10 runs last weekend at Phoenix - the first top 10 of the year for Byron.

 

While more recent Atlanta races have been dominated by two-time winners Harvick and Brad Keselowski, Johnson actually leads the series in the most important statistics. His five victories in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet are most in the field – nearly double that of any other driver (Kurt Busch has three). Twice he won back-to-back races – sweeping the 2007 season and winning in 2015-16. Johnson’s 14 top-five and 16 top-10 efforts are also best among the competition. And he’s tied with Harvick for the top driver rating (100.5).

 

 

Joe Gibbs Racing bouncing back after slow West Coast swing

After a historic 19-win NASCAR Cup Series season in 2019 – including Kyle Busch’s second series championship – the Joe Gibbs Racing organization is still largely fine-tuning its winning form this year.

 

Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, won his second consecutive Daytona 500 to open the season in the same triumphant way JGR closed out the 2019 season. But since that race, JGR has found itself in a bit of catch-up mode – not always of its own doing.

 

Three JGR drivers – Busch, Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. – qualified for the Championship 4 season finale last year. But after four races this season, not a single JGR driver is ranked among the top 10 in the NASCAR Cup Series standings.

 

Hamlin is 11th, 53 points off the leader Kevin Harvick, who was the fourth member of the Championship 4 last year. Reigning series champ Busch is ranked 12th, also 53 points back. Truex is ranked 15th, 68 points off Harvick and Jones is 21st, 87 points off the title pace.

 

Only Hamlin has won a stage this year (one). His 79 laps out front – all in his Daytona win – are the most for any Gibbs driver. Truex has led only 15 laps, Busch has led only 14 laps and Jones has not been out front yet.

 

This is his first season for Truex without longtime crew chief Cole Pearn, so there is a natural learning curve for the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He has yet to earn a top 10 and has two DNFs in four races. But the good news is Truex has a good history at this week’s Atlanta Motor Speedway venue and was the race runner-up just last spring. He leads all drivers in laps run in the top 15 at Atlanta (80.7 percent) and quality passes (883). He’s scored top-10 finishes in nine of his 21 starts.

 

Busch leads the Gibbs’ contingent with two wins (2008 and 2013) at Atlanta. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has five top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 21 races there, and was sixth at Atlanta last year.

 

Hamlin’s victory at Atlanta came in 2012. He has four top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 20 starts there.

 

Jones has only three Atlanta starts, but the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has never finished worse than 14th (first start in 2017). He has one top 10 in three races and was a career best seventh there last spring.

 

 

Taking a glance at the Sunoco Rookies

Last weekend’s Phoenix Raceway event was a significant outing for several members of the NASCAR Cup Series’ talented Sunoco Rookie class.

 

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer earned his first NASCAR Cup Series top 10 with a ninth-place finish on Sunday. The effort moved him to 22nd in the standings – best among rookies.

 

Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick earned points in the first two Stages and ran among the top five for a portion of the race before a late accident cost him a fitting finish. The two-time and defending NASCAR Xfinity Series champion was ultimately 33rd in the finishing order, but earned a lot of positive praise for his work Sunday. The up-and-down day dropped him to 25th in the standings heading into Atlanta.

 

Christopher Bell had his best outing of the four-race season, finishing 24th in the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Toyota, one position ahead of Front Row Motorsports’ driver John Hunter Nemechek. 

 

Custer is tops among the rookies in the standings, followed by Reddick and Nemechek, who sit in 25th and 26th position, respectively.

 

Bell is currently 32nd  in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, but he does have two wins at this week’s Atlanta Motor Speedway venue. He won the 2017 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race from pole position and answered it with a victory in last year’s Xfinity Series race at Atlanta.

 

“Atlanta is statistically one of my best race tracks,’’ Bell said. “Every race I’ve ran there, I’ve been able to lead laps at some point. I was able to win once in the truck and once in the Xfinity car. 

 

“Atlanta is definitely another race I have circled, and I love that race track. It’s going to be different in the Cup car, but I’m ready to get there this weekend see what happens’’

 

Nemechek is the only other rookie to have celebrated in Atlanta’s Victory Lane – earning the 2016 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race win.

 

Custer’s best showing was a runner-up to Bell in last year’s Xfinity race. Reddick was fifth in that race.

 

 

Competition Highlights

Only four races into the 2020 season and three NASCAR Cup Series teams have celebrated pole positions – JTG Daugherty in Daytona (driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.), Stewart-Haas Racing in Fontana (Clint Bowyer) and Hendrick Motorsports in Phoenix (Chase Elliott).

 

Three drivers from three teams have hoisted trophies in the opening four races. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin won the season-opening Daytona 500, becoming only the third driver in history to earn back-to-back titles in the legendary race. Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman earned his second career win at California’s Auto Club Speedway and Team Penske’s Joey Logano is the year’s first multi-time winner – taking the trophy at both Las Vegas and Phoenix.

 

The average Margin of Victory through the first four races is 4.590-seconds (twice the race has ended under caution). The average number of leaders per race is 8.75 – up from 8.25 in 2019. The average number of lead changes per race is 21.25 – the most since 2014 (24.25).

 

The season’s 148 Green Flag Passes for the Lead are the fifth most in the last 10 seasons. The highest total in the last decade after four races is 255 – a mark set in 2014. The total number of Green Flag Passes (2,241) at Phoenix was the highest total in the last decade and up 66 percent from a year ago.

 

The Phoenix race had 19 Green Flag Passes for the Lead – an increase of 46 percent from last year’s Spring race (13 Green Flag Passes for the Lead) and an increase of 90 percent from the 2019 Playoff race (10 Green Flag Passes for the Lead).

 

 

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media rotations

Four drivers from the NASCAR Cup Series –Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola, GOFAS Racing’s Corey LaJoie, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney will be participating in group press conferences at Atlanta Motor Speedway in advance of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series’ Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (2 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Aric Almirola, 35, of Tampa, has scored top-10 finishes in the last two races – eighth-place runs at both the Fontana and Phoenix tracks. It’s helped elevate the driver of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford to eighth place in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, 43 points behind the leader, his SHR teammate Kevin Harvick. He shows up at Atlanta as the defending pole-winner. He finished a career-best at Atlanta last year of eighth and led his first-ever laps at the track (36 laps). He also has a pair of top-five runs in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races at Atlanta – third in 2010 and fifth in 2012. (Best Atlanta Finish: Eighth, 2019)

 

Corey LaJoie, 28, of Concord, N.C., earned his first top 10 of the season – an eighth place showing - in the season-opening Daytona 500. A 16th-place effort in Las Vegas the next week has also helped put LaJoie 23rd in the NASCAR Cup Series standings heading into Atlanta. In two previous starts at the 1.5-miler, the driver of the No. 32 GOFAS Racing Ford has finishes of 34th and 29th. LaJoie is a previous ARCA Menards Series East championship runner-up, finishing second to fellow NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson in the 2012 standings. (Best Atlanta Finish: 29th, 2019)

 

Erik Jones, 23, of Byron, Mich., is looking to get his 2020 season on track after an uncharacteristically slow start. The driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has only one top-10 finish through the opening four races – a 10th-place showing at Auto Club Speedway. He’s ranked 21st in the standings and has yet to lead a lap. Although Jones has not won at this week’s Atlanta venue previously, he has three NASCAR Cup Series finishes of 14th or better, including a career-best seventh-place effort last year. He finished third at the track in the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series race and has another top 10 (seventh) in a NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race there in 2015. (Best Atlanta Finish: Seventh, 2019)

 

Ryan Blaney, 26, of High Point, N.C., is enjoying his best career season start. He finished runner-up in the season-opening Daytona 500 then led the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings for the first time in his career for the next two weeks. A tough-luck accident early in last week’s Phoenix race resulted in a 37th-place finish for the driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford, however, dropping him from first in the standings to sixth, 41 points behind new leader Kevin Harvick. Blaney is looking for his first career top-10 finish at Atlanta. His best work was a 12th-place result in 2018. He led 41 laps last year in the race but finished 22nd.  He has only one start in either of NASCAR’s other two major series – starting 12th and finishing 11th in a 2012 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race. (Best Atlanta Finish: 12th, 2018)

 

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

 

Atlanta Motor Speedway heats up for the NASCAR Xfinity Series

Highspeed action this season has the NASCAR Xfinity Series thrilled for some more great racing this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway as part of a double-header Saturday that will feature the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race, the Vet Tix Camping World 200, at 1:30 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) directly followed by the NASCAR Xfinity Series race, the EchoPark 250, at 4 p.m. ET (FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). 

 

Atlanta Motor Speedway has hosted 28 NASCAR Xfinity Series races dating back to the inaugural event in 1992 (won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon). The 28 Xfinity races have produced 17 different pole winners and 17 different race winners. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch leads the Xfinity Series in poles at Atlanta Motor Speedway with six. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick leads the series in wins (five), top fives (11), top 10s (13) and laps led (973) at the 1.54-nile track. Joe Nemechek is the only former Atlanta race winner (2001) entered in this weekend’s race, and fans will be guaranteed to see a new Xfinity Atlanta pole winner this weekend as none of the former series pole winners are entered.

 

Atlanta Motor Speedway has the oldest surface the NASCAR Xfinity Series competes on all season, which has made for great racing and has several drivers excited about this weekend’s challenge.

 

“The old age and grittiness of the surface in Atlanta makes for great racing because the tires fall off and the cars will start slipping and sliding around,” said JR Motorsports Noah Gragson heading into this weekend at Atlanta.

 

“It’s another one of those places that’s kind of slick and worn out, and I love that type of track,” said Chase Briscoe. “It plays into my dirt-racing background, and it’s just a lot of fun to be on those low-grip tracks.”

 

This season’s Xfinity race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the EchoPark 250, will be 163 total laps that will be broken up into three stages. The first stage will end on Lap 40, the second stage will end on Lap 80 and the final stage is scheduled to end on Lap 163.

 

Atlanta Motor Speedway has been the home to four drivers getting their first NASCAR Xfinity Series win – NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon (1992), Mike Skinner (1999), Jamie McMurray (2002) and Carl Edwards (2005). Twenty-six of the 36 drivers entered this weekend are looking for their first series win. Atlanta has also been the track four Xfinity drivers got their first series career pole, including the first pole by a female competitor in NASCAR national series history – Shawna Robinson (March 12, 1994), Tim Bender (1997), Ryan Newman (2001) and Chase Elliott (2014). 

 

 

Standings leader Harrison Burton continues record rookie streak

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Harrison Burton continued to make history last weekend at Phoenix Raceway, notching his fourth consecutive top-five finish to start the season in as many races. This is the seventh time in series history a driver has started the season with four top fives and Burton is the first and only rookie in the NASCAR Xfinity Series to accomplish the feat, and the sixth driver all-time; joining Sam Ard (1984), Kevin Harvick (2005), Carl Edwards (2009, 2010), Elliott Sadler (2012) and Kyle Busch (2014). The series record for the most consecutive top-five finishes to start a season is eight, by Kyle Busch in 2014. In fact, Busch is the only driver to make it to five straight top fives to start a season. 

 

With a win (California) and four top fives to start 2020, Burton has a grasp on the series standings lead by three points over second-place Chase Briscoe. This weekend will be Burton’s series track debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and though Burton is off to a record pace, adding a little extra pressure this weekend is the fact the No. 20 JGR team won this race at Atlanta last season with driver Christopher Bell. Bell dominated the event, leading 142 of the 163 laps (87%).

 

On the bright side, Burton isn’t a complete stranger to Atlanta Motor Speedway, he made his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series debut at the 1.54-mile facility for Kyle Busch Motorsports last season – starting second and finishing in the top 10 (eighth).

 

“I have some experience at Atlanta,” said Burton. “I’ve ran the Trucks there, ran really good last year in the truck. I think I was running second most of the race to Kyle (Busch). I felt like I was a 10th faster than the field and he was a 10.5 faster than me. But that was a good race for us. I finished eighth or so, just had a bad restart at the end. Ran up front all day. So, I have some experience at Atlanta.”

 

 

4 For 4: Xfinity winners aplenty

Since going to the ‘select a series’ format in NASCAR in 2011, this season is the first to see four different NASCAR Xfinity Series championship contenders visit Victory Lane in as many series races to start the year. 

 

Last weekend at Phoenix, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones added his name to the 2020 wins list, joining his JGR teammate Harrison Burton (California), Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe (Las Vegas) and JR Motorsports’ Noah Gragson (Daytona). All four Xfinity drivers have now virtually locked themselves into the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs by virtue of their victories.  

 

Looking ahead to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend, padding their points and adding more wins to the boxscore should be their goal going forward.

 

Harrison Burton will be making his series track debut this weekend attempting to defend both his driver standings lead and his rookie standings lead. Gragson made his Atlanta track debut last season, starting fourth and finishing ninth. Brandon Jones has made four series starts at Atlanta with an average finish of 11.5, and Briscoe has made two series starts with an average finish of 15.0.

 

 

Who keeps the Xfinity Series’ different winner streak rolling?

The two names jumping to the top of most lists when asked, ‘Who is closest to a win this season?’ are JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier and Team Penske’s Austin Cindric. Both put up wins last season and made it deep into the Playoffs, and now both are back this season running strong.

 

The high-level skills of veteran Allgaier are a consistent theme in his performances on track, and this season has been no different. The 33-year-old from Riverton, Illinois, has run up front leading the most laps (140) and winning the most stages (three) of any Xfinity driver this season. In fact, he has led laps in every race this year, but only has one top-10 finish in four starts to show for the effort. Now, Allgaier is ninth in the series driver standings, 38 points behind the standings lead, but Atlanta Motor Speedway could be the track where he finds Victory Lane. In nine starts at the 1.54-mile raceway he has posted two top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 11.0. Interestingly, he put up his career-best performance at Atlanta last season, starting seventh and finishing third. 

 

“I’m really looking forward to getting to Atlanta,” said Allgaier. “Our JR Motorsports Camaros have had a lot of speed this season and this No. 7 team has been stout every week. We’ve led a lot of laps and won some stages, now we just need to put it all together and get that victory. I feel like we’ve got a great chance to get it done this weekend.”

 

Austin Cindric’s breakout season last year was just a precursor to what he hopes this season can be. The 21-year-old from Mooresville, North Carolina, has already been impressive this year collecting two top fives and three top 10s in his first four starts. He’s third in the standings, the highest ranked driver without a win yet this season, just 21 points back from Harrison Burton in the standings lead. This weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway should be a continuation of his early success this season. In two starts, he has two top 10s and an average finish of 8.5 – best among the drivers entered.

 

Both drivers have a chance to keep the NASCAR Xfinity Series different winners to start the season streak alive. The record for the highest number of different winners to start a NASCAR Xfinity Series season is 13 back in 1988; followed by 1987 with 10 different winners, then 2018 with nine and 1998, 2006 with eight.

 

The 1988 and 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series seasons are tied for the series-most different winners for the entire season with 18 each.

 

 

Georgia On My Mind: Sieg and Jones are amped to compete at their home track

Two drivers from Georgia entered in this weekend’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race, the EchoPark 250 (4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), are extra revved-up about racing at their home track, Atlanta Motor Speedway – RSS Racing’s Ryan Sieg from Tucker and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones from Atlanta.

 

The 32-year old driver Ryan Sieg and his family-owned organization, RSS Racing, are based in Tucker, Georgia, Sieg’s hometown. The team is run by Ryan’s father, Rod Sieg, and the duo have competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series since 2013 when they made their series debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

 

This season Sieg is having a career-best start, in four races he has gathered two top fives, three top 10s and an average finish of 6.75 – second-best behind series standings leader Harrison Burton’s 2.75. Sieg and Burton also are the only two drivers that have completed 100% of their laps attempted this season.  

 

“It definitely makes you feel good to get some top fives early in the season,” said Sieg following Phoenix. “We’re super excited to get to Atlanta and race there.”

 

Sieg heads to Georgia this weekend seventh in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings, 33 points back from Burton in the standings lead. Sieg has made six series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway posting a best finish of 11th in last season’s race. 

 

Following his first win of the season last weekend at Phoenix Raceway, the site of the Championship 4 Playoff finale later this season, is Atlanta, Georgia’s own Brandon Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing. Much like Sieg, Jones is also having a career best start to his season posting a win, two stage wins, two top fives, three top 10s and an average finish of 10.2. Not to mention, he won at Phoenix by out-racing arguably one of the best to ever compete in the series, his JGR teammate Kyle Busch.

 

“We are coming off a huge win at Phoenix Raceway and our 19 team is really excited about our 2020 season,” said Jones. “We have a lot of momentum and we are headed to my home track at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Atlanta has not always been one of my strongest tracks, but neither was Phoenix. Our team is up to the challenge that the track brings with the old surface which makes saving tires part of the strategy. Our No. 19 Toyota Service Centers team has spent a lot of time over the off-season preparing for Atlanta; we probably put in 200-laps around the track using Toyota’s simulator. It’s a fun race and the Atlanta fans are great. I think if we get our Supra dialed-in to run the bottom of the track, we will be the team in Victory Lane.”

 

Jones has made four series starts at Atlanta posting an average finish of 11.5; including his career best finish of fourth at the track last season.

 

 

Loop Data stats point to Chase Briscoe as the driver to beat in Atlanta

Scrolling through the facts and figures in this week’s NASCAR Xfinity Series pre-race Loop Data packet and it’s easy to see whose name is atop most of the key statistical categories heading into this weekend’s EchoPark 250 (4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Atlanta Motor Speedway - Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe.

 

Briscoe is currently second in the series driver standings, just three points behind Harrison Burton in the standings lead after posting a win (Las Vegas), two top fives and three top 10s on the year.

 

The 25-year old grabbed the checkered flag at the first 1.5-mile track (Las Vegas) on the Xfinity schedule earlier this season, and the loop data says Briscoe could be the one to beat come Saturday. He leads the series in driver rating (112.9), average running position (5.953) and fastest laps run (98). He is also second in laps led (110) and fourth in laps in the top 15 (92.5%, 619 laps) at Atlanta.

 

Briscoe has made two series starts at Atlanta, posting an average finish of 15.0. But the Indiana native can find solace knowing his SHR organization won in an alliance with Fred Biagi in 2018 with driver Kevin Harvick and finished second last season with Briscoe’s then teammate driver Cole Custer at Atlanta. 

 

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Getting to know EchoPark -  Last week Atlanta Motor Speedway announced EchoPark Automotive (“EchoPark”) as the proud sponsor of its upcoming NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday, March 14, 2020 (4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

“It takes great partners to do what we do, so we’re beyond thrilled to have EchoPark as our title sponsor,” said AMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Brandon Hutchison.

 

Launched in the fall of 2014, EchoPark currently has nine locations and has transformed how consumers buy pre-owned cars, offering one to four-year old vehicles priced 20-40 percent below new car pricing. All vehicles come with a clean CarFax history report and 190-point inspection.

 

This year’s EchoPark 250 will be the first NASCAR race sponsored by the organization and is a part of Atlanta’s NASCAR double-header following the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race, the Vet Tix Camping World 200, earlier that day.

 

“We’ve been a member of the Atlanta community for years with several Sonic Automotive dealerships and look forward to sharing our EchoPark experience with guests when we open our doors later this year,” said David Smith, CEO of Sonic Automotive, Inc. and EchoPark Automotive, Inc. “We are excited to be the title sponsor of this NASCAR Xfinity Series race and believe fans will thoroughly enjoy the race weekend at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.”

 

Approaching Milestones – Mike Harmon Racing’s Joe Nemechek is just two starts away from becoming just the sixth different driver to make 450 or more NASCAR Xfinity Series starts. He currently has 448 Xfinity Series starts dating back to 1989. … Motorsports Business Management’s driver Chad Finchum will attempt to make his 75th NASCAR Xfinity Series start this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

 

Playoff Bubble update – Brandonbilt Motorsport’s driver Brandon Brown jumped from 13th to 12th, the final Playoff transfer spot, in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings, leap frogging DGM Racing’s Alex Labbe. Brown sits four points ahead of Labbe heading to Atlanta; followed by Josh Williams (-8) in 14th and Myatt Snider (-12) in 15th.

 

Fun Stat of the Week – Seven of the last 10 NASCAR Xfinity Series races have been won by the driver who has led more than 100 laps (70%); including 2019 (Christopher Bell, 142 laps), 2018 (Kevin Harvick, 141), 2016 (Kyle Busch, 119), 2015 (K. Harvick, 101), 2014 (K. Harvick, 159), 2013 (K. Harvick, 132) and 2011 (Carl Edwards, 101). The three drivers to lead less than 100 laps and win were Kyle Busch in 2017 with 26 laps led, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2012 with 16 laps led and Jamie McMurray in 2010 with 48 laps led.

 

 

Parade Laps: Insights into the drivers in this week’s media availabilities 

Four drivers from the NASCAR Xfinity Series – Kaulig Racing’s Ross Chastain, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones and RSS Racing’s Ryan Sieg – will be participating in press conferences at Atlanta Motor Speedway leading into the EchoPark 250 on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The press conferences are scheduled for Friday, March 13, from 12 – 12:30 p.m. ET in the Deadline Room. 

 

Ross Chastain (No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet) 

Birthdate: December 4, 1992

Driver’s Age: 27 

Hometown: Alva, Florida

Hobbies: Farming watermelons 

Team: Kaulig Racing 

Crew Chief: Alex Yontz 

Xfinity Career Highlights: 

  • In 2019, he completed 19 races in the Xfinity Series and posted a win at Daytona with Kaulig Racing.
  • In 2018, he made the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs and won his first career race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway; he ultimately finished a career-best 10th in championship standings. 
  • In 2016 and 2017, Chastain ran full seasons, finishing 16th and 13th, respectively. 
  • In 2015, he ran his first full NASCAR Xfinity Series season, finishing 15th in points.
  • In 2014, he made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

2020 Season Highlights: 

  • Currently fifth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings, 30 markers behind the standings lead. 
  • In four starts this season he has posted three top-10 finish and an average finish of 12.2. 

Atlanta Motor Speedway Performance: 

  • Has made five series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway posting a best finish of 14th last season. 
  • Average start, 22.6 and average finish, 21.4. 

 

Chase Briscoe (No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) 

Birthdate: December 15, 1994 

Driver’s Age: 25 

Hometown: Mitchell, Indiana  

Hobbies: Spending time with family, online racing, watching sports 

Team: Stewart-Haas Racing 

Crew Chief: Richard Boswell II 

Xfinity Career Highlights: 

  • In 2019 -- his first fulltime Xfinity Series season – Briscoe made a huge statement in the series with one win, 13 top fives, 26 top 10s and two poles. He also made it into the Playoffs and competed for a spot in the Championship 4 before being eliminated in the Round of 8.
  • In 2018, he ran 17 races for Roush Fenway Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi and won the inaugural race at the Charlotte Road Course. 
  • Made NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in 2018 at Atlanta.

2020 Season Highlights: 

  • Currently second in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings, three points behind the standings lead. 
  • In four series starts this season he has posted a win (Las Vegas), two top fives, three top 10s and an average finish of 7.8.  

Atlanta Motor Speedway Performance: 

  • Has made two series starts at Atlanta finishing 15th both times. 
  • Average start, 23.0 and average finish, 15.0. 

 

Brandon Jones (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) 

Birthdate: February 18, 1997 

Driver’s Age: 22 

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia 

Hobbies: Woodworking, antique car restoration, metal fabrication, farming 

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing 

Crew Chief: Jeff Meendering 

Xfinity Career Highlights: 

  • In 2019, Jones earned his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at Kansas Speedway. He qualified for the Playoffs for the third time and finished 10th in the final standings. 
  • In 2018, he tallied a career-best finish of second at Talladega and reached the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs for the second time, finishing a career-best ninth in the standings. 
  • In 2017, he captured his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series pole (Daytona-1). 
  • In 2016, he made the inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs in his rookie season; ultimately finishing a then career-best 10th in the standings. 

2020 Season Highlights: 

  • Currently fourth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings, 28 points behind the standings lead. 
  • In four series starts this season he has posted a win (Phoenix), two top fives, three top 10s and an average finish of 10.2.  

Atlanta Motor Speedway Performance: 

  • Has made four series starts at Atlanta posting one top five (fourth in 2019).  
  • His average start, 16.3 and his average finish is 11.5. 

 

Ryan Sieg (No. 39 RSS Racing Chevrolet) 

Birthdate: June 20, 1987

Driver’s Age: 32 

Hometown: Tucker, Ga.

Team: RSS Racing 

Crew Chief: Kevin Starland 

Xfinity Career Highlights: 

  • In 2019, Ryan Sieg earned a berth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs and finished 11th in the season standings with 12 top 10s.
  • In 2018, he posted two top 10s and finished 16th in the series championship standings.
  • In 2017, driver Ryan Sieg finished 15th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings.
  • In 2016, driver Ryan Sieg finished a career-best ninth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings and earned a spot in the inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. 
  • In 2015, he finished 11th in NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings.
  • In 2014, Sieg competed in his first full season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
  • In 2013, Sieg made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut with Jeremy Clement Racing.  

2020 Season Highlights: 

  • Currently seventh in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings, 33 points behind the standings lead.
  • In four series starts this season he has posted two top fives, three top 10s and an average finish of 6.8 – second only standings leader Harrison Burton  (2.75).
  • Sieg and Burton are the only two drivers to complete 100% of their laps attempted this season.  

Atlanta Motor Speedway Performance: 

  • Has made six series starts at Atlanta posting a best finish of 11th in last season’s race.
  • Average start, 19.2 and average finish, 19.0. 

 

 

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Trucks Series

 

Atlanta awaits after two-week break

Trucks are back!

 

After two weeks off for the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, they are back in action on Saturday afternoon on the 1.54-mile track of Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Vet Tix Camping World 200 (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Saturday’s event will be the 19th race for the series at the 1.54-mile track, the first being on March 13, 2004. Bobby Hamilton started 12th in a Dodge and won the inaugural race.

 

It will also mark the third race of the season for the Gander Trucks.

 

Grant Enfinger secured the season-opening win at Daytona International Speedway and Kyle Busch returned to the series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and took home another checkered flag to kick off 2020.

 

Matt Crafton, the 2019 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Champion, will make his 19th start at Atlanta, the most of any active driver in the series. He’s the only driver to have competed in every race since the inaugural one in 2004.

 

Behind him is Kyle Busch, who will be back behind the wheel of the No. 51 Toyota, with 11 previous starts. Busch has dominated at Atlanta, winning five of the 18 races run at the track. He’s the only driver to have won back-to-back races (2007-2008) and he won the most recent race last season.

 

Only five drivers in history have won the race at Atlanta from the pole and twice a driver has won from the 18th starting position.

 

A Toyota has won the last three years and in total has eight victories. Dodge has the one win from the inaugural race and Chevrolet has nine wins.

 

In 2018, Brett Moffitt won at Atlanta and went on to with the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Championship.

 

Drivers that won for the first time at Atlanta Motor Speedway and won the championship in the same year:

  • Bobby Hamilton – 2004
  • Todd Bodine – 2006
  • Christopher Bell – 2017
  • Brett Moffitt – 2018

   

Quick facts about Atlanta Motor Speedway for the upcoming race:

  • The Hampton, Georgia track is 1.54-miles.
  • The race length is 200.2 miles, which is 130 laps. There is 24-degree banking in corners and five-degree banking on straightaways. The frontstretch is 2,332 feet and the backstretch is 1,800 feet.
  • Ron Hornaday Jr. still holds the race record from March 18, 2005 at 142.424 mph.
  • The closest margin of victory was in 2005 at 0.008 seconds and the greatest margin of victory was in 2015 at 8.752 seconds.
  • There have been 12 different pole winners, 13 different race winners and 11 different winning truck owners.
  • Five of 18 races have been won from the pole.

 

 

Beating Kyle Busch = Winning Bounty
It all started on Twitter when Kevin Harvick tweeted that any full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver who competes in a NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race and beats Kyle Busch would also win an additional $50,000. Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World and Gander RV & Outdoors, pushed it even further raising the reward to a total of $100,000.

 

Busch currently has four more Gander Trucks races on his schedule: Atlanta Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway.

 

GMS Racing announced that Georgia native Chase Elliott will drive the No. 24 Chevrolet for the team, making Atlanta the first race where the bounty comes into play.

 

If Elliott doesn’t secure the win, Kyle Larson will get a shot at it, also with GMS Racing, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Elliott will be back behind the wheel of the No. 24 again at Kansas.

 

Billy Ballew and James Finch have come together to run a truck entry for Erik Jones at Homestead-Miami Speedway in hopes of winning the bounty. Jones is the only one of the three contenders who is a Gander Trucks champion (2015).

 

However, if Busch is successful at holding off anyone from taking the bounty in these four races, the money will be donated to the Bundle of Joy Foundation.

 

As a note, any driver taking up the bounty doesn’t have to actually win one of the races, they only have to finish ahead of Busch. If more than one Cup Series driver is competing against Busch in a single race, the highest-finishing driver will get the bounty. A driver is not allowed to wreck Busch for the money, either.

 

Chase Elliott’s NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Stats
Elliott has 12 starts to his name in the Gander Trucks with two wins, eight top-five finishes, 10 top-10 finishes and three poles. Plus, he led a total of 301 laps and had an average start of 6.3 and average finish of 7.9.

 

His first Gander Trucks win came at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2013, in only his sixth career start in the series. His second win was in 2017 at Martinsville from the pole.

 

His first and only start at Atlanta Motor Speedway was in 2017. He started ninth and finished fifth. He’s never run a Gander Trucks race at Kansas, so this season will mark his series track debut.

 

Kyle Larson’s NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Stats
Kyle Larson has 13 career starts in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Trucks Series with two wins, seven top fives, 10 top 10s and two poles.

 

His first Gander Trucks win came at Rockingham Speedway in only his fifth start in the series. He later went on to win the Eldora Dirt Derby in 2016 from the seventh starting spot.

 

He has led 703 laps and has an average start of 7.3 and average finish of 8.5 in the Gander Trucks.

 

Larson will be making his fourth Gander Trucks start at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His first was in 2012, when he started on the front row but ended up finishing 27th due to a incident. He competed at Homestead again in 2014, starting on the pole and finishing runner-up. And his last start in the series was at Homestead in 2016. He started third and finished fourth.

 

Erik Jones’ NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Stats
Erik Jones has the most experience in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series of all three Cup drivers pursuing the bounty. He has 42 career starts from 2013-2018 with seven wins, 10 top fives, 35 top 10s and seven poles.

 

Not to mention, Jones is the 2015 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series champion, too.

 

Jones’ first win was at Phoenix Raceway in 2013 in only his fifth career Gander Trucks start. His most recent win was in 2015 at Texas Motor Speedway.

 

He has a Gander Trucks career average start and average finish of 7.0.

 

 

Home cooking in Georgia

There’s no place like home and for three drivers making a start in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series this weekend, home is not too far away from the 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway track.

 

Austin Hill, driver of the No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota, is from Winston, Georgia. Approximately one hour away from the Atlanta track, Hill will be making his fifth start at his home track on Saturday.

 

Last season, Hill started from the pole for the first time at the track. He also got his first top-10 finish of his career at Atlanta, finishing in seventh. Previous statistics show that Atlanta hasn’t always been Hill’s best track, but his performances have continued to get better each year.

 

Hill is also the only fulltime driver in the series with home ties to Georgia.

 

Chase Elliott will be running in the No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet in an effort to win the bounty against Kyle Busch in the Gander Trucks. Elliott is from Dawsonville, Georgia, which is about an hour and a half away from the Atlanta track.

 

In his only start at Atlanta in the series, he finished fifth after starting ninth. This will be Elliott’s 13th career start in the series.

 

Spencer Davis, also from Dawsonville, will pilot the No. 11 Spencer Davis Motorsports Toyota at Atlanta.

 

Davis will be making his 11th career start and second at his home track. He started fourth in 2018 and finished 13th. He has a career-best finish of seventh.

 

Korbin Forrister is entered to race the No. 7 All Out Motorsports Toyota this weekend. Forrister is another driver that calls Atlanta his home track. He’s from Cedartown, Georgia, which is approximately two hours from the track.

 

This will be Forrister’s fifth start at the track and 51st career start. His best finish was in 2018, when he started in 21st and finished 16th.

 

 

Ryan Truex, Jeb Burton running for Niece Motorsports

Ryan Truex hasn’t run a race yet in 2020 for any of the three series he competes in. But he will be back behind the wheel of a truck this weekend for Niece Motorsports.

 

Truex hasn’t competed in the Truck Series since 2017 but has 10 top fives, 19 top 10s and two poles to his name. He’ll pilot the No. 40 truck for the team.

 

Truex has made two starts at Atlanta prior and had a best finish of 13th in 2017.

 

Jeb Burton will also be running for Niece Motorsports this weekend in the No. 38 truck.

 

Burton has 55 starts in the series with one win (2013), seven top fives, 21 top 10s and seven poles under his belt. His win was at Texas Motor Speedway in 2013, where he started third.

 

However, Burton has never made a start at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the series.

 

 

Points on points on points
Although the series is only two races into the season for the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Trucks, taking a look at the driver point standings shows us who has been on top of their game since the start of the season.

 

Hattori Racing Enterprises driver Austin Hill leads the driver standings with 82 points, nine markers up on second-place Johnny Sauter. Hill has one top five and two top 10s in the first two races of the season and has led 11 laps.

 

Veteran ThorSport Racing driver Sauter is right in Hill’s rearview mirror in second in the Gander Trucks driver standings with 73 points. He also has one top five and two top 10s on the year.

 

Ben Rhodes sits in third in the series driver standings, 22 points back from driver standings lead, with one top-five finish this season. Rhodes gained a massive 16 spots in the standings after Vegas, and is now just 13 points behind second-place Sauter.

 

GMS Racing’s Brett Moffitt, the 2018 series champion, is in fourth in the Gander Trucks driver standings following Las Vegas with 59 points, 23 back from Austin Hill in the standings lead.

 

Moffitt’s GMS Racing teammate Sheldon Creed rounds out the top five in the standings with two top-10 performances in as many races. He has accumulated 58 points this season, 24 back from Hill and just one back from Moffitt. 

 

Looking ahead to Atlanta, Hill will have his work cut out for him to hold on to the standings lead as of the top five in points, Rhodes has the best average finish on the 1.54-mile track with a 4.8; followed by Moffitt (5.3), Creed (12.0), Sauter (12.1) and Hill (13.8).

 

 

Rookie Battle update: Zane Smith out front early

We’re only two races into the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series 2020 season, but here’s how the top three drivers in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings are faring thus far.

NGROTS Sunoco Rookie of the Year Standings

Rookies

Points

Awards

Zane Smith

57

1

Christian Eckes

55

0

Derek Kraus

48

1

Tanner Gray

44

0

Raphael Lessard

39

0

Ty Majeski

29

0

Spencer Davis

25

0

Tate Fogleman

25

0

 

GMS Racing’s Zane Smith stands atop the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings with 58 points; sixth in the Gander Trucks driver points after one top-10 finish in two starts this season.

 

Two points behind Smith is Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Christian Eckes in second in the rookie points and eighth in the Gander Truck driver standings. And seven points back from Eckes is McAnally Hilgemann Racing’s Derek Kraus in third in the rookie standings and 15th in the series driver standings. 

 

Smith and Kraus are the first two drivers to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Race awards in 2020.

 

Smith opened the season strong with an 11th-place finish at Daytona and a sixth-place finish at Las Vegas. He has completed 100% of laps attempted and has earned an average finish of 8.5.

 

Eckes has had a slow start to the season, finishing 22nd at Daytona and 23rd at Las Vegas. The driver of the No. 18 Toyota was competing hard with his owner (and teammate) during the race at Las Vegas but ended up suffering from penalties and being involved in an incident late in the race.

 

Kraus has had mixed results too in 2020, finishing fourth at Daytona and 22nd at Las Vegas due to an incident on the third lap of the race and was unable to work his way back to the front of the field.

 

Looking ahead to Atlanta, the only series rookie that has made a previous Gander Trucks start at Atlanta is Spencer Davis in 2018 – he started fourth and finished 13th. The rest of the class will be making their series track debuts.

 

 

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, Etc.

Tennessee strong: Clay Greenfield will pilot the No. 68 Clay Greenfield Motorsports truck on Saturday, honoring all of those who suffered loss and devastation in Nashville, Tennessee due to the tornado. The truck says #TennesseeStrong on it and Greenfield is advertising that you can donate by texting “Restore The Dream” to 41444.

 

T.J. Bell behind the wheel: Young’s Motorsports has signed T.J. Bell Jr. to pilot the No. 12 Chevrolet for the team in Atlanta this weekend. Bell has made 118 starts in his Gander Trucks

career. Most recently, he ran three races for Niece Motorsports last season in the No. 38 Chevrolet. He has a career-best finish of fifth at Auto Club Speedway in 2009.

 

Women’s History Month Highlight - Jennifer Jo Cobb: As part of Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at Jennifer Jo Cobb who has been competing in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series for 13 years. Cobb, who is from Kansas City, has not only been a driver for all these years but also runs her own team – Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing. This weekend’s attempt at Atlanta Motor Speedway would mark her 191st career start in the series. Cobb’s best finish was in 2011 at Daytona International Speedway in sixth place. Cobb has also made 31 starts in the Xfinity Series.

 

 

Parade Laps: Insights into the drivers in this week’s media availabilities

Four drivers from the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series – Hattori Racing Enterprises’ Austin Hill, Young’s Motorsports’ Spencer Boyd, GMS Racing’s Zane Smith and Front Row Motorsports’ Todd Gilliland - will be participating in press conferences at Atlanta Motor Speedway leading into the Vet Tix Camping World 200 on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The press conferences are scheduled for Friday, March 13, from 12:30 – 1 p.m. ET in the Deadline Room.

  

Todd Gilliland (No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford)

Birthdate: May 15, 2000

Driver’s Age: 20

Hometown: Sherrill’s Ford, NC

Team: Front Row Motorsports

Crew Chief: Jon Leonard

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he competed in 19 races finishing 10th in the championship points and recorded career-highs in top fives (four) and top 10s (nine).
  • In 2017, he made his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut at Dover International Speedway for Kyle Busch Motorsports. In total, made six starts, posting two top fives and three top 10s.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Gilliland got his first career win in 2019 at Martinsville Speedway.
  • He had a career-best season, as well, with six top fives, 14 top 10s and one pole.
  • Front Row Motorsports announced that they’d be running a fulltime Truck Series team for the first time in history and Gilliland would be their driver.
  • He left Kyle Busch Motorsports after being with the organization since 2017.

Atlanta Motor Speedway Performance:

  • This weekend will be Gilliland’s second start at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
  • His first start was last season, when he started 11th and finished ninth.

 

Spencer Boyd (No. 20 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet)

Birthdate: June 26, 1995

Driver’s Age: 25

Hometown: Creve Coeur, Missouri

Team: Young’s Motorsports

Crew Chief: Joe Lax

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • Boyd’s first career victory was last season at Talladega Superspeedway.
  • Made his series debut in 2016 at Martinsville Speedway for MB Motorsports.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Won his first NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
  • In 17 starts, Boyd had one win, two top fives and two top 10s.
  • His average starting position was 22.8 and average finishing position was 19.0.

Atlanta Motor Speedway Performance:

  • This weekend will mark Boyd’s second career start at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
  • His first start was last season; he started 18th and finished 25th.

 

Austin Hill (No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota)

Birthdate: April 21, 1994

Driver’s Age: 26

Hometown: Winston, Georgia

Team: Hattori Racing Enterprises

Crew Chief: Scott Zipadelli

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • Hill captured his first four Gander Truck Series wins in 2019 (Daytona, Michigan, Las Vegas, Homestead-Miami).
  • He finished 11th in the points standings in 2018, his first fulltime season.
  • In 2017, he made 12 starts for Young’s Motorsports, finishing 23rd in the standings.
  • In 2016, he posted his first top-10 finish in the Truck Series at Martinsville.
  • In 2014, he made his series debut at Martinsville.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • 2019 was a career-best season for Hill.
  • He won the season-opening race at Daytona and locked himself into the Playoffs.
  • He went on to will three more times after that and made his way into the Round of 6.
  • He had seven top fives, 12 top 10s and three poles at the end of the season.

Atlanta Motor Speedway Performance:

  • Hill will be making his fifth start at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend.
  • Last season, he started on the pole and finished in seventh.

 

Zane Smith (No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet)

Birthdate: June 9, 1999

Driver’s Age: 20

Hometown: Huntington Beach, California

Team: GMS Racing

Crew Chief: Kevin Manion

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • 2020 is Smith’s first fulltime season in the Truck Series.
  • Smith is a NASCAR Next alumnus and made his Truck Series debut at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in 2018 for DGR-Crosley Racing.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Smith made 10 Xfinity Series starts with JR Motorsports in 2019.

Atlanta Motor Speedway Performance:

  • This weekend’s race will be Smith’s debut at Atlanta.

NASCAR PR

Speedway Digest Staff

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