Saturday, Sep 18

NASCAR National Series News & Notes - Atlanta Motor Speedway

 

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway

The Date: Sunday, June 7

The Time: 3 p.m. ET

TV: FOX, 2:30 p.m. ET

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 500.5 miles (325 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 105),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 210), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 325)

2019 Race Winner: Brad Keselowski

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: EchoPark 250

The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway

The Date: Saturday, June 6

The Time: 4:30 p.m. ET

TV: FOX, 4:30 p.m. ET

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 251.02 miles (163 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 40),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 80), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 163)

2019 Race Winner: Christopher Bell

 

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series 

Next Race: Vet Tix Camping World 200

The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway

The Date: Saturday, March 14

The Time: 1 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 1 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 200.02 miles (130 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 130)

2019 Winner: Kyle Busch

 

 

NASCAR Cup Series

 

Keselowski looking to repeat in Atlanta

Last week’s Bristol race winner, Brad Keselowski, has also been the cream of the crop 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 winning two of the last three races coming into this weekend, the 2012 series champion arrives at Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) primed and ready to repeat. 

 

Two weeks ago, Keselowski took home the checkered in the Coca-Cola 600 for his first win of the year and Team Penske’s third (Joey Logano won at Las Vegas and Phoenix). He followed that up seven days later with the win on the Bristol short track.

 

Results have traditionally met his high hopes for the Team Penske driver at Atlanta.

 

In 11 starts at the 1.54-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 then the second race on the schedule), Keselowski earned top-three 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.

  

And Keselowski has proven himself to be a favorite at the Georgia track – where he owns two wins. Of his 32 career wins, 14 of them have come on 1.5-mile venues such as Atlanta; his largest win tally among the NASCAR Cup Series style of race tracks.

 

 

Harvick maintains points lead

No one’s been more consistent than Kevin Harvick this season… his series best eight top-10 finishes in nine races backs that up. (He finished 11th at Bristol last week.)

 

Following a runner-up finish at Phoenix Raceway in the last race before the pandemic-induced break in action, Harvick took over the NASCAR Cup Series points lead – by a single point over two-race winner Joey Logano.  And he’s only strengthened it since, now leading Logano by 24 points heading into Atlanta.

 

Since he took over the points lead, Harvick has earned his first win of the season – capturing the victory at the first race back after the break in Darlington. And Atlanta might just be the place where he secures his second win.

 

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. 

 

 

Seven-time champ banking on Atlanta success

After putting together just three top-five results in 2019, Jimmie Johnson already has a pair of top-five results in 2020, and has shown speed that isn’t reflected in his finishing results at other tracks.

 

While his results have been up and down (including a disqualification in the Coca-Cola 600 that dropped him from runner-up to 40th), he has contended – including nearly winning the opening stage of the first race back at Darlington before a crash just before reaching the green/white checkered.

 

In the other three races since the break, he has an eighth-place result at Darlington-2, was 11th at Charlotte-2 and then finished third last weekend at Bristol.

 

The sure-bet first-ballot NASCAR Hall of Famer hasn’t won a race since Dover in June of 2017 – a streak of 104 races without a victory – but nearly every race this season has had his fans thinking that this could be the day that he puts the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet from Hendrick Motorsports back atop the scoring tower at the end of the day.

 

Their hopes will probably be high again this weekend in Atlanta, where Johnson has five wins – a number that leads all active drivers – most recently back-to-back in 2015 and 2016. He’s finished in the top five in half of his 28 starts at the 1.54-mile circuit and also has 16 top 10s.

 

Johnson also holds the honor of having started the deepest in the field in a march to victory at Atlanta – winning from the 37th-place starting position in 2015. And leads active drivers with the most runner-up finishes at the track with four (2005, 2006, 2008, 2011).

 

And he has the backing of an organization that knows how to win at Atlanta – Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams with 14 victories.

 

 

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 and Elliott would love nothing more than to earn his second victory of the season at the venue.

 

It would be a fantastically popular win for the driver who won the second Charlotte race a week and a half ago.

 

Elliott, the driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is in third in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 45 points behind leader Kevin Harvick. He’s climbed up the standings with a win at Charlotte and four top-five finishes on the season.

 

Elliott has a series best five stage wins. And he’s led laps in all but two of the nine races this season.

 

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. But his dad, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, has won five times at the Georgia track.

  

 

Joe Gibbs Racing gaining ground since the break

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. And since then, Hamlin won the second Darlington race after NASCAR returned to racing.

 

But those two races have been the only visits to Victory Lane for the stars of JGR through the opening nine races. A year ago, they had combined for six wins in the opening nine events – three from Kyle Busch (Phoenix, Auto Club, Bristol-1), two from Hamlin (Daytona 500, Texas-1) and a Richmond win by Martin Truex Jr.

 

Three JGR drivers – Busch, Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. – qualified for the Championship 4 season finale last year. And after a rough four races of the season that found all three outside the top 10 leaving Phoenix, the trio has worked their way into the top 10 since NASCAR returned to racing at Darlington.

 

Truex leads the pack in sixth place in the standings while Hamlin is seventh. Kyle Busch sits in ninth. And the fourth JGR driver, Erik Jones, is in Playoff contention in 14th.

  

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 with James Small taking over atop the pit box. And the break in racing did the duo good.


Through the first four races, they had an average finish of 24.5 – and didn’t crack the top 10. But in the five races back, their average finish has been 10.2, with a 20th-place effort at Bristol being the only result outside the top 10.

 

And there’s more good news in that 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 has put together top-five finishes in three of the last four races this season, and 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.

 

Three of Hamlin’s top-five runs this year have come since NASCAR returned at Darlington, including his win at Darlington-2. He has a victory at Atlanta (2012). And he has four top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 20 starts there.

 

Jones’ improvement since the break has mirrored that of his teammates. He’s finished in the top 10 in three of the five races since returning, and added an 11th-place result in a fourth race. He finished fifth at Darlington-2 and last weekend at Bristol.

 

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

Heading into the unscheduled break in racing following Phoenix, Christopher Bell had posted an average finish of 29.0 and a best result of 21st at the season opener at Daytona.

 

Since the break, the Leavine Family Racing driver has finished 11th or better in three of the five races and posted his first career top-10 results (ninth at both Charlotte-2 and Bristol). And he was the highest-finishing Sunoco rookie at Bristol.

 

But he’s facing a tough battle in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings as Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick has dominated the standings thus far, leading John Hunter Nemechek in second place by 21 points (186 to 165).

 

Reddick had a bit of a hiccup at Bristol, as a mid-race crash relegated him to collecting just one point in the race with a 36th-place finish. But prior to that he had a pair of top 10s (seventh at Darlington-1 and eighth at Charlotte-1).

 

Nemechek climbed into second in the rookie standings after the second Charlotte race and gained some ground on Reddick at Bristol, finishing 13th.  He also finished 13th at Charlotte the race before.

 

Cole Custer, who posted his first career top-10 finish in the Cup Series at Phoenix before the stoppage in racing action, finished 18th at Charlotte-2 and dropped a spot in the rookie standings. He lost a little more ground on Nemechek – and allowed Bell to close in on third a bit, following a 35th-place result at Bristol last weekend. He’s now just one point ahead of Bell in fourth and is now 15 points back of Reddick with 140 points.

 

 

Ryan Newman casting a line for charity

As numerous businesses and attractions have suffered financially as a result of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several NASCAR drivers have stepped up to bring attention and, at times, funds to assist the operations of some of these businesses.

 

Recently, it was announced that Ryan Newman is offering the opportunity to bid on a fishing experience with him in North Carolina with proceeds raised through an online auction to benefit the Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown, Virginia. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum was forced to shut down and furlough its employees. The museum depends on vital funding from tourism, school trips, and weddings.

 

The mission of the Watermen's Museum is to demonstrate the role the Chesapeake Bay Watermen, from pre-colonial to modern times, have played in the shaping of our nation.

 

Those interested in bidding on the experience can visit www.charitybuzz.com/RyanNewman to learn more.

 

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

 

Xfinity Series readies for Atlanta, Dash 4 Cash kickoff

Highspeed action this season has the NASCAR Xfinity Series ready for some more intense 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 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) directly followed by the NASCAR Xfinity Series race, the EchoPark 250, at 4:30 p.m. ET (FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). As a bonus, this weekend is the kickoff for the Dash 4 Cash initiative for the Xfinity Series, too.

 

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-mile 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). 

 

 

Burton continues breakthrough season

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Harrison Burton is just the second Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender to finish inside the top 10 through the first seven races of the season, joining Carl Edwards – who in 2005 while driving for Roush Fenway Racing also accomplished the feat. Edwards holds the NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie record for the most consecutive top-10 finishes to start their rookie season with nine (2005).

Overall, Burton, driver of the No. 20 Toyota, is the 10th different driver to finish in the top 10 in the opening seven races of the season. Elliott Sadler is the most recent driver to do this in 2018. Sam Ard continues to hold the record for the most consecutive top-10 finishes to start a season with 23 in 1984. 

As for average finish, in the history of the Xfinity Series, only five drivers have produced an average finish under 5.0 in the first seven races of a season and Burton is the only Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender to accomplish the feat.

 

Rank

Drivers

Avg. Finish

Season

1.

Kyle Busch

2.429

2014

2.

Carl Edwards

3.286

2007

3.

Sam Ard

3.571

1984

4.

Kyle Larson

4.143

2014

t-5.

Harrison Burton

4.571

2020

t-5

Johnny Benson

4.571

1995

7.

Brad Keselowski

4.857

2010

 

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%). Burton is currently sitting in third place in the series standings, 26 points back from leader Chase Briscoe.

 

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).

 

 

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 (4:30 p.m. ET on FOX, 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 to the season, in seven races he has gathered two top fives, four top 10s and an average finish of 11.1.

 

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

 

Sieg heads to Georgia this weekend ninth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings, 85 points back from Chase Briscoe 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. 

 

Atlanta’s own Brandon Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing, much like Sieg, is having a career best start to his season posting a win, three top fives, four top 10s, one pole and an average finish of 13.0. 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.

 

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.

 

 

Kaulig Racing chasing first win of 2020

After earning a pair of wins last year with then-part-time drivers Ross Chastain (Daytona-2) and AJ Allmendinger (Charlotte Roval), Kaulig Racing has shown that they are in the hunt this year.

 

Kaulig had a rough start to the season in which Chastain didn’t qualify for the opener at Daytona (but ran in the No. 38 for RSS Racing, instead). But now with Chastain and Justin Haley running full-time, and Allmendinger running occasionally for the outfit, Kaulig has put together 10 top-10 results between the trio of drivers in the opening seven races.

 

Chastain has five top 10s in the six races he’s contested in Kaulig equipment while Haley has four top 10s in seven races. Allmendinger has made one start – at Bristol last week – and finished in the top 10.

 

Haley (two) and Chastain (one) have also paired up for three top fives.

 

Allmendinger will be making his Xfinity Series track debut at Atlanta this weekend, although he has 13 starts at the track in the NASCAR Cup Series.

 

Haley holds Kaulig’s best finish at Atlanta, an eighth-place result at the track last year.

 

 

Stay in the loop on Dash 4 Cash
The Dash 4 Cash program is back for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and this time the schedule is a little different compared to past years due to a revised 2020 schedule as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Dash 4 Cash will kick off this weekend with the EchoPark 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, June 6 (4:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Monday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway was the qualifier race. The top four Xfinity Series regulars in the race qualified for the money in Atlanta.

 

The first of the four competitors to finish at Atlanta will win the $100,000 bonus. The Atlanta bonus winner and the top three highest finishing drivers (who have declared points in the series) will qualify for the next Dash 4 Cash event at Homestead-Miami Speedway – which will take place in the second of two Xfinity Series races being run in South Florida that weekend.

 

In addition, Xfinity is planning to make donations in each Dash 4 Cash race market to continue showing their companywide commitment of connecting families, veterans and seniors to necessary digital tools during this difficult time.

 

Dash 4 Cash Qualifiers for Atlanta: 

  • Noah Gragson (No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) – Gragson has one Xfinity Series start at Atlanta, a ninth-place finish last year. He’s also raced there twice in the Gander Trucks, finishing 14th in his debut and runner-up in the second race in 2018.
  • Chase Briscoe (No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) – Briscoe has two Xfinity Series starts at Atlanta and put together 15th-place results in both races. He finished 25th in his one Gander Trucks race at the track in 2017.
  • Brandon Jones (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) – Jones has the most Xfinity Series experience at Atlanta of the four Dash 4 Cash contenders, with four starts. He has an average finish of 11.5 with his best finish coming last year, placing fourth. He has not competed at the track in the Gander Trucks.
  • Harrison Burton (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) – While this will be Burton’s Xfinity Series debut at Atlanta, he did finish eighth there last year in the Gander Trucks.

 

"That’s a big opportunity. There is a lot of things you could do with that money. There is a lot of people in need right now, and a lot of situations that I feel like that could be used for which is a really cool opportunity for me. Obviously, you have to treat your guys with some of that as well if you get it,” said Burton. “No different than any other race, other than it’s a bigger payday in the end, which is obviously amazing, and we are pumped that Xfinity is doing that. The biggest thing for us is to just treat it like any other race and be aggressive and go and try to win."

 

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Getting to know EchoPark -  Earlier this season, Atlanta Motor Speedway announced EchoPark Automotive (“EchoPark”) as the proud sponsor of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday, June 6, 2020 (originally slated for Saturday, March 14, 2020) at 4:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio as part of a double-header with the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.

 

“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.

 

“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.”

 

 

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Trucks Series

 

Trucks are back (again) and ready for Atlanta

Following the Gander Trucks’ return to racing under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway two weeks ago to welcome the series back after the break from the COVID-19 pandemic, the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series is back in action this Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Vet Tix Camping World 200 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio - the fourth race of the season.

 

Saturday’s event will be the 19th race for the Gander Trucks at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the first being on March 13, 2004. Bobby Hamilton started 12th in the inaugural event in a Dodge and won the race.

 

The previous 18 series races have produced 11 different Gander Truck pole winners at Atlanta. Ty Dillon holds the record as the youngest at 20 years, 6 months and 4 days old (2012). The Gander Trucks has also produced 13 different race winners at Atlanta, including John Hunter Nemechek who is entered this weekend and holds the record as the youngest series winner at 18 years, 8 months and 16 days old (2016). Four of the last five Gander Truck race winners (Kyle Busch, Brett Moffitt, John Hunter Nemechek and Matt Crafton) are all entered this weekend.

 

The 2020 season has been a wild one, 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 the checkered flag. Then Chase Elliott made his return to the series at Charlotte Motor Speedway, battling for the bounty against Kyle Busch, and won the race.

 

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 is 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, Moffitt won at Atlanta and went on to win the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series 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.

 

 

Gander Trucks COVID-19 support, programs

Various teams and drivers from the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series have dedicated time and resources to supporting those in the fight against COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic in March and the pause in sports, members of the Gander Trucks have rallied to make a difference. Below are just a few examples of the great work that is being done.

 

Love’s Travel Stops, a partner for Front Row Motorsports’ Todd Gilliland, is providing bonuses and meals for employees to continue to work during the pandemic. Love’s is offering addition paid sick times for employees, too. They have donated $100,000 to the United Way of Central Oklahoma COVID-19 Response Fund and have supported truck drivers with a $100,000 donation to the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund.

 

Stewart Friesen and Halmar International, a partner in Halmar-Friesen Racing, purchased and donated 32,000 pounds of food for four different food banks in the New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts areas. Friesen will run a paint scheme at Atlanta with the outreach name and logo “Racing to Beat Hunger.”

 

Jeb Burton, driver for Niece Motorsports, partnered with God’s Pit Crew and Carilion Clinic to package 500 meals and 500 backpacks for children in the Roanoke City Public School system.

 

To see a more extensive list of the team spotlights and the work that is being done, click here to download a PDF.

 

 

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 has not always been Hill’s best track, but his performances have continued to get better each year.

 

Chase Elliott will be running in the No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet for the second Gander Trucks race in a row. 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 14th 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. In his series track debut he started fourth and finished 13th in 2018.

 

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 at Atlanta was in 2018, when he started in 21st and finished 16th.  

 

 

All about the points
Although the drivers are only three races into the season for the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Trucks, taking a look at the point standings shows us who has been on top of their game since the start of 2020. The top five in the series standings are separated by just 22 points.

 

Hattori Racing Enterprises driver Austin Hill leads the driver standings with 120 points, 17 markers up on second-place Johnny Sauter. Hill has one top five and three top 10s in the first three races of the season and has led 37 laps.

 

Veteran ThorSport Racing driver Sauter is right in Hill’s rearview mirror in second in the Gander Trucks driver standings with 103 points. He also has one top five and three top 10s on the year.

 

Sunoco Rooke of the Year contender Zane Smith is sitting pretty in third in the standings, tied with Sauter. His third-place performance last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway was a career-best and pushed the driver of the No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet up in the standings. He has one top five and two top 10s so far.

 

Ben Rhodes sits in fourth in the series driver standings, 21 points back from driver standings lead, with one top-five finish this season and two top 10s.

 

GMS Racing’s Brett Moffitt, the 2018 series champion, is in fifth in the Gander Trucks driver standings, 22 back from Hill in the standings lead. Moffitt has one top five and one top 10 finish in 2020.

 

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

 

 

Rookie Battle Update: Zane Smith remains out front

We’re only three 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

103

2

Christian Eckes

78

0

Derek Kraus

69

1

Ty Majeski

64

0

Raphael Lessard

61

0

Tanner Gray

60

0

Tate Fogleman

45

0

Spencer Davis

30

0

 

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

 

Twenty-five points behind Smith is Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Christian Eckes in second in the rookie points and eighth in the Gander Truck driver standings. And nine points back from Eckes is McAnally Hilgemann Racing’s Derek Kraus in third in the rookie standings and 12th 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. Last week marked his career-best finish of third at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He has completed 100% of laps attempted and has earned an average finish of 6.7.

 

Eckes has had a slow start to the season, finishing 22nd at Daytona and 23rd at Las Vegas. But last week at Charlotte, the driver of the No. 18 Toyota was competing hard for a 14th-place finish.

 

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. He finished 16th at Charlotte.

 

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.

 

 

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 Gander Trucks 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.

 

He’s 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. 44 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.

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