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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, March 21
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)

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: EchoPark 250
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 20
The Time: 5 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 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)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Fr8Auctions 200
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 20
The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 1:30 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)

NASCAR Cup Series

Hot-lanta: Cup Series drivers ready to heat things up in the Peach State

Originally called Atlanta International Raceway, the track was then a 1.5-mile paved speedway, located in Hampton Georgia. The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta was on July 31, 1960 and won by Fireball Roberts from the pole position.

Over the years the track underwent several changes. It was re-measured to 1.522 miles in the spring of 1970. It was renamed Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1990. And then the track layout was reversed, and the track was re-configured to 1.54 miles between the two races in 1997.

From 1960 – 2010, Atlanta Motor Speedway hosted multiple NASCAR Cup Series races during each season; starting in 2011 the series began only visiting Atlanta once a year (2011-2020). This season marks the first time since 2010, the series will visit the facility more than once a year as the series is scheduled compete this weekend (March 21, 2021) and later this season (July 11, 2021).

From 1987 to 2000 Atlanta Motor Speedway held the final championship race of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule.  In total, there have been 113 NASCAR Cup races at Atlanta Motor Speedway since the first race there in 1960.

This weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be 325 laps (500.5 miles) and broken up into three stages. The first two stages are 105 laps each with the final stage being 115 laps.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin will start from the pole and his teammate and last weekend’s winner Martin Truex Jr. will join him on the front row.

Streaking: Five different winners to start the 2021 Cup season

With Martin Truex Jr. taking the checkered flag last weekend, the 2021 season marks the 15th time in the NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era (1972-Present) that the season schedule has opened with five different winners (2021, 2017, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2005, 2003, 2001, 2000, 1998, 1993, 1991, 1986, 1984, 1979). This weekend, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Atlanta Motor Speedway will have the chance to produce the sixth different NASCAR Cup Series winner of the 2021 season making it the eighth different season to start the year with six different drivers in Victory Lane; joining 2014, 2003, 2001, 2000, 1991, 1986, 1984.

The Modern Era record of different winners to start a NASCAR Cup Series season is 10 set back in 2000. Dale Earnhardt Jr. snapped the streak winning his second race of the 2000 season at Richmond (Race No. 11).

Season Race No. Winners Track Date
2000 1 Dale Jarrett Daytona Sunday, February 20, 2000
2000 2 Bobby Labonte Rockingham Sunday, February 27, 2000
2000 3 Jeff Burton Las Vegas Sunday, March 5, 2000
2000 4 Dale Earnhardt Atlanta Sunday, March 12, 2000
2000 5 Ward Burton Darlington Sunday, March 19, 2000
2000 6 Rusty Wallace Bristol Sunday, March 26, 2000
2000 7 Dale Earnhardt Jr Texas Sunday, April 2, 2000
2000 8 Mark Martin Martinsville Sunday, April 9, 2000
2000 9 Jeff Gordon Talladega Sunday, April 16, 2000
2000 10 Jeremy Mayfield Auto Club Sunday, April 30, 2000

In the Modern Era (1972-2021), the record for the most different NASCAR Cup Series winners in a single season in its entirety is 19 set back in 2001. The series has also seen a total of 18 different winners (second-most) in a single season twice – in 2002 and 2011. Last season the series produced 13 different winners.

There are five former NASCAR Cup Series Atlanta Motor Speedway winners entered this weekend looking for their first win of the 2021 season: Kevin Harvick (three wins), Kurt Busch (three), Brad Keselowski (two), Kyle Busch (two) and Denny Hamlin (one).

Denny Hamlin continues to hold points lead without a win

While still looking for his first win of the 2021, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin captured his fourth top-five finish in five races this season extending his NASCAR Cup Series driver standings lead to 39 points over Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski in second last weekend at Phoenix Raceway. Now the points leader is looking to get his second career victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and lock himself into the Playoffs.

Atlanta Motor Speedway is a special place for the Toyota camp. Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, drove his Toyota Camry to Victory Lane in Atlanta on March 9, 2008, scoring Toyota’s first NASCAR Cup Series win. In total, Joe Gibbs Racing has won

Denny Hamlin has made 21 series starts at Atlanta putting up one win (2021), five top fives and eight top 10s. He finished fifth in the Atlanta Cup race last season.

Atlanta could be the place Harvick gets Stewart-Haas Racing back to Victory Lane

The winning tide that floats the Stewart-Haas Racing boats has yet to come in this season, but Kevin Harvick could change all that as the defending winner of this weekend’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Harvick (2001, 2018, 2020) is tied Chip Ganassi Racing driver Kurt Busch (2002, 2009, 2010) for the most NASCAR Cup Series wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway among active drivers with three wins each. Statistically, Atlanta is one of Kevin Harvick’s best tracks having won in all three NASCAR national series on the 1.54-mile track. Atlanta is also one of five tracks on the schedule he has led more than 1,000 laps at, and one of 12 tracks he has scored three or more wins at in the NASCAR Cup Series. Plus, at Atlanta Motor Speedway he leads all active drivers in starts (30), wins (three tied with Kurt Busch), top fives (nine), top 10s (15 tied with Kyle Busch) and laps led (1,348). Last season he led 151 laps en route to his win.

And if that wasn’t convincing enough to keep an eye out for Harvick this weekend, NASCAR pre-race Loop Data has him ranked in the top five of several key categories heading into Atlanta: Average Finish of 12.909, fourth-best, Average Running Position of 11.418, fourth-best

Driver Rating of 102.2, series-best, 594 Fastest Laps Run, series-best and 4,965 Laps in the Top 15 (69.0%), second-most.

Harvick could also extend Ford’s wins streak at Atlanta this weekend. The longest consecutive wins streak by a manufacturer in the NASCAR Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway is four victories and both Ford and Chevrolet have accomplished the feat three times.

  • Ford
    • (1964 sweep-1965 sweep)
    • (Nov. 1991, 1992 sweep, Mar. 1993)
    • (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020).
  • Chevrolet
    • (1983 sweep-1984 sweep)
    • (1995 sweep-1996 sweep)
    • (2003 sweep-2004 sweep).

Ford has the opportunity to become the first manufacturer to win five straight at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series this weekend.

Martin Truex Jr. grabs first win of 2021 and adds name to Playoff & All-Star lists

Snapping a 29-race winless streak last weekend at Phoenix Raceway, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. put every Cup competitor on notice for when they come back to the Valley of the Sun to settle the series championship in November. Truex not only locked himself into the postseason with the victory but also added his name to 2021 NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway on June 13.

Truex joins fellow 2021 season winners, Front Row Motorsport’s Michael McDowell (Daytona 500), his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell (Daytona RC), Hendrick Motorsport’s William Byron (Homestead-Miami) and Kyle Larson (Las Vegas) as the five drivers already with tickets to the Playoffs.

This weekend, the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Truex, is looking to keep the momentum rolling at Atlanta and just like Phoenix add it to his win’s list. Truex has made 22 series starts at Atlanta posting five top fives and 10 top 10s. He finished third in the NASCAR Cup Series Atlanta race last season.

Georgia native and series champion Chase Elliott returns home

Returning home is always sweet, and this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion and Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott will do just that. Elliott also has the opportunity to become just the second driver in series history from the state of Georgia to win at Atlanta Motor Speedway; joining his father and NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott a.k.a. Awesome Bill from Dawsonville with five Atlanta Cup wins.

Since the last time the Dawsonville, Georgia native, Chase Elliot, competed at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he went on to win the NASCAR Cup Series title (2020) and claimed the Most Popular Driver of the Year award for the third consecutive season (2018-2020). Now, Elliott heads back to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend ranked sixth in the series driver standings after posting two top-five finishes in the first fives races of the year.

Elliott has made five series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway posting one top five and four top 10s. He finished eighth at in the NASCAR Cup Series Atlanta race last season.

NASCAR Cup Series Etc.

Jeff Foxworthy to bring the laughs to Atlanta Motor Speedway with pre-race show – Georgia native Jeff Foxworthy is bringing his popular comedy act to Atlanta Motor Speedway with a pre-race performance on Sunday, March 21. Fans in attendance for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will enjoy Foxworthy’s observations about the humor found in everyday life during his performance on the pre-race stage.

Admission to Foxworthy’s show is included with every grandstand ticket for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. Foxworthy is the largest selling comedy-recording artist in history, a multiple Grammy Award nominee and best-selling author of more than 26 books.

Stewart Friesen to race #77 Spire Motorsports car in Cup career debut at Bristol Dirt – Spire Motorsports announced this week that Stewart Friesen will drive the No. 77 car on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 28, with Halmar International as the primary partner. The car will be adorned in Friesen’s traditional Halmar colors and will be prepared for competition by Spire and led by Crew Chief Kevin Bellicourt.

Friesen will have a full schedule on the Bristol dirt this Spring. In addition to the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race on March 28, Friesen will also be competing in the NASCAR Camping World Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt on March 27, the World of Outlaws Late Model Series Bristol Bash on April 9 and 10, and the Super Dirt Car Series Big Block Modifieds on April 23 and 24.

Friesen, who has over 330 career wins in dirt modified racing, won the last time the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series raced on dirt at Eldora Speedway in 2019.

“It’s a dream come true to compete in the Cup Series,” said Friesen. “It’s the pinnacle of motorsports in North America. As a race fan myself, it has always been something I’ve dreamed about doing.”

Milestone To Watch For: Truex, Busch are racing to 10,000 laps led – Two drivers are looking to become the 19th and 20th different drivers all-time in the NASCAR Cup Series to lead 10,000 laps in their career. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. currently has 9,963 laps led, just 37 laps shy of reaching the 10,000-lap led goal. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch is not far behind Truex with 9,904 laps led, 96 laps shy of 10,000. Below is the NASCAR Cup Series top 20 list of lap leaders:

Rank Drivers Led Completed % Led Races
1 Richard Petty 51,695 307,846 16.80% 1,185
2 Cale Yarborough 31,627 144,938 21.80% 562
3 Bobby Allison 27,344 197,438 13.80% 718
4 Dale Earnhardt 25,683 202,888 12.70% 676
5 David Pearson 25,159 135,021 18.60% 574
6 Jeff Gordon 24,936 231,223 10.80% 805
7 Darrell Waltrip 23,134 237,773 9.70% 822
8 Rusty Wallace 19,971 204,817 9.80% 706
9 Jimmie Johnson 18,941 194,170 9.80% 691
10 Kyle Busch 17,947 159,650 11.20% 583
11 Kevin Harvick 15,582 206,219 7.60% 728
12 Bobby Isaac 13,200 71,037 18.60% 309
13 Mark Martin 12,878 255,044 5.00% 882
14 Tony Stewart 12,819 176,404 7.30% 618
15 Junior Johnson 12,643 52,183 24.20% 313
16 Matt Kenseth 11,769 198,099 5.90% 698
17 Bill Elliott 11,419 238,923 4.80% 835
18 Denny Hamlin 11,411 154,363 7.40% 552
19 Martin Truex Jr 9,963 155,035 6.40% 560
20 Kurt Busch 9,904 203,433 4.90% 731

Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award nominations are open – Nominations opened at the beginning of March for The NASCAR Foundation’s 11th annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, a recognition that honors the philanthropic ideals and vision of Betty Jane France, The NASCAR Foundation’s late founder and chairperson.

The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award is presented annually to a NASCAR fan who is a dedicated volunteer working on behalf of children’s causes. Since its inception, the award has given $1.8 million in donations to charities representing 40 finalists, impacting the lives of 354,647 children in need.

The nomination process includes an independent selection committee of NASCAR industry leaders who help identify the nominees to be voted on by The NASCAR Foundation’s Board of Directors. The four finalists are ultimately selected by the Board and set forth to an online fan vote in the fall. Each finalist will be guaranteed a $25,000 donation to the children’s charity they represent, with the overall winner receiving a $100,000 donation.

Nominations will close on Friday, March 19, at midnight. The nomination form and award rules can be accessed online at NASCARfoundation.org/Award. Completed forms can be submitted via email to bjfaward@nascarfoundation.org or via mail.

Speedway Children’s Charities to host Laps for Charity at Atlanta – Atlanta Motor Speedway is inviting fans to take the first laps of the NASCAR race weekend and help children in need. Speedway Children’s Charities Atlanta is hosting Laps for Charity on Atlanta’s famous 1.54-mile oval under the lights on Friday, March 19, as part of the NASCAR weekend festivities. Participants will get to drive their personal vehicle onto the 24-degree banked turns and make three laps around the historic speedway. Proceeds will benefit the Atlanta Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities and its ongoing mission to help children in need. With a donation of $40 per vehicle participants will drive three laps around the Speedway. Gates will open for the event at 4:30 p.m. Donations for admission must be made online; admission will not be sold on-site. Additionally, drivers will be required to complete a waiver and present it upon arrival. Seatbelts must be worn by all participants.

Attendees will access the event by entering the infield through the service tunnel located just off Richard Petty Boulevard and Lower Woolsey Road. Participants will then follow signage to check-in.

Throughout the event attendees will be required to remain inside their vehicles and observe guidelines for safety and social distancing. To learn more about Laps for Charity and to purchase tickets to the event, go to https://www.speedwaycharities.org/events/atlanta/laps-for-charity/.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Georgia on my mind

The NASCAR Xfinity Series is back on the east coast this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the EchoPark 250 at 5 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

The Xfinity Series race will be the second of the day as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series kicks off a doubleheader at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Austin Cindric was victorious once again, this time at Phoenix Raceway, earning his second win in the opening five races of the season. The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford beat 18-year-old rookie Ty Gibbs by .360 seconds on the final restart with two laps remaining.

The win marked the second consecutive win on the Phoenix oval for Cindric, as he won there last November en route to being crowned the NASCAR Xfinity Series 2020 champion. He led a race-high 119 of 200 laps and held off the field on three late-race restarts.

Gibbs, who finished second in the Xfinity race, started out the weekend at Phoenix with a win on Friday night in the ARCA Menards Series race. Brandon Brown finished in third in the Xfinity race and claimed a career-best finish for his No. 68 Brandonbilt Motorsports team. Riley Herbst was fourth and AJ Allmendinger, who won the previous weekend at Las Vegas, rounded out the top five.

Jeb Burton, Bayley Currey, Justin Allgaier, Brett Moffitt and Jeremy Clements all finished out the top 10. The finish marked Currey’s first top-10 finish of his career.

This weekend’s race will be 251.02 miles and 163 laps with Stage 1 ending on Lap 40 and Stage 2 ending on Lap 80.

Cindric will start from the pole with Jeb Burton joining him on the front row. Allmendinger will start third, Brown will start fourth and Harrison Burton will round out the top five.

Allmendinger is the only current driver in the Xfinity Series with a previous win at Atlanta Motor Speedway and it came last season. He will look to get his second win of 2021 this weekend and go back-to-back.

Dude Perfect: Cindric reaching new heights in performance

This weekend marked the second time in Austin Cindric’s career that he had a perfect driver rating. The first time he accomplished this was at Mid-Ohio in 2019. This weekend also marked the 15th perfect driver rating for Team Penske in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Perfect Driver Ratings are rare, as they have only happened in the series 79 times (including last weekend) since the inception of Loop Data in 2005.

Track Season Driver Driver Rating Organization
Phoenix 2021 Austin Cindric 150 Team Penske
Mid-Ohio 2019 Austin Cindric 150 Team Penske
Auto Club 2018 Joey Logano 150 Team Penske
Texas 2018 Ryan Blaney 150 Team Penske
Bristol 2015 Joey Logano 150 Team Penske
Iowa 2015 Ryan Blaney 150 Team Penske
Phoenix 2015 Joey Logano 150 Team Penske
Las Vegas 2014 Brad Keselowski 150 Team Penske
Loudon 2014 Brad Keselowski 150 Team Penske
Mid-Ohio 2013 AJ Allmendinger 150 Team Penske
Road America 2013 AJ Allmendinger 150 Team Penske
Chicago 2011 Brad Keselowski 150 Team Penske
Kansas 2011 Brad Keselowski 150 Team Penske
Michigan 2010 Brad Keselowski 150 Team Penske
Richmond 2010 Brad Keselowski 150 Team Penske

Brandon Brown adds to strong 2021 season start

Brandon Brown left Phoenix Raceway with the best finish of his NASCAR Xfinity Series career, a third-place podium finish at the one-mile track.

Until this past weekend, Brown’s best finish in 90 starts was fifth at Texas Motor Speedway last year.

2021 has been a career season to start out for the No. 68 Brandonbilt Motorsports – a small, family-owned team. In the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, he finished sixth and the following weekend at the Daytona Road Course, he finished eighth. Homestead wasn’t as good to Brown, as he finished 34th and was out of the race early due to an overheating issue.

In Las Vegas, he finished 11th and last week at Phoenix, he finished third. Brown and his team still have a handful of races without a sponsor.

“This is huge,” Brown said. “This is what the sponsors that are on board need to see. This is what potential sponsors need to see.”

Brown finished 12th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular-season finale last year and was able to clinch the final Playoff spot based on his points. It was the first time he ever qualified for the Playoffs. It was also the first time for Brandonbilt Motorsports in their third full-time season as a team.

Momentum will be on Brown’s side this weekend as he heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway coming off a third-place finish. In three starts at the Georgia track, Brown has a 23rd-place finish, 13th-place finish and most recently, finished 12th last season.

Sieg and Jones head to home turf with lots of momentum

Two drivers from Georgia entered in this weekend’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race, the EchoPark 250 (5 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 33-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.

Last season Sieg had a career-best season, racking up seven top fives and 11 top 10s as well as a run at the championship title.

This weekend, Sieg will head to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the eighth time of his career. He’s completed 1,042 of 1,173 laps attempted, which is 88.8 percent and has an average start of 17.4 and an average finish of 21.3. He has a best finish of 11th at the track in 2019.

Because of his finish last weekend at Phoenix Raceway, Sieg will start 35th on Saturday with hopes of moving his way to the front of the pack.

Atlanta, Georgia’s own Brandon Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing has had a strong start to his 2021 season. In the first five races of the season, he’s posted three top fives, three top 10s and has an average start of 11.0 and average finish of 16.0. Last weekend at Phoenix didn’t go as planned for the No. 19 team as they were involved in a crash that put them out of the race early. However, with each race at Atlanta, Jones has seen improvements. He will be making his sixth start on Saturday at the track with one top five and two top 10s.

Jones goes into this weekend seventh in the series points standings, 61 points from the Playoff cutline. He will start 16th for the EchoPark 250 on Saturday.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Phoenix-1:

Rank Driver Points Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Austin Cindric 248 2 4 14 In On Wins
2 AJ Allmendinger 162 1 1 6
3 Myatt Snider 149 1 0 5
4 Daniel Hemric 201 0 2 2 108
5 Jeb Burton 172 0 0 0 79
6 Harrison Burton 162 0 0 0 69
7 Brandon Jones 154 0 1 1 61
8 Justin Haley 149 0 0 0 56
9 Brandon Brown 137 0 0 0 44
10 Jeremy Clements 134 0 0 1 41
11 Justin Allgaier 114 0 0 0 21
12 Riley Herbst 98 0 0 0 58

Truex taking on Atlanta in Xfinity Series

Last weekend’s Cup Series winner at Phoenix Raceway will be hitting the track this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the EchoPark 250 on Saturday, March 20 at 5 p.m. ET (FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Truex competed in the Xfinity Series for 103 races beginning in 2001 and until 2010. He has not raced in the series since the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2010.

Of his 103 Xfinity starts, he has 13 wins, 40 top fives, 61 top 10s and 10 pole awards. He led 1,863 laps and has an average start of 9.2 and average finish of 11.4.

Saturday’s race will be Truex’s third race at the Georgia track in the Xfinity Series. The first was in 2004, when he started second and finished ninth. In 2005, he started 16th and finished 11th.

Truex will start 18th in Saturday’s race.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Sunoco Rookie Update – Ty Gibbs took back the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings lead for the Xfinity Series. Gibbs has 88 points and two awards. Josh Berry is in second in the rookie standings with 75 points and Ryan Vargas is in third with 54.

Goodyear Fast Facts – For the sixth race of the Xfinity Series season, the tire utilized will be the Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radials. Xfinity will have five sets for the race and it will be the same tire setup as last season. The right-side tire in a multi-zone tread tire with two different tread compounds on the same tire. The worn, asphalt surface of Atlanta Motor Speedway is abrasive and continues to make for really exciting racing and strategy. Driving style comes into play because of the way the track wears on tires. Tire strategy could make or break a team this weekend.

RCR partners with Alsco Uniforms in ‘21 – Richard Childress Racing and Alsco Uniforms have renewed their sponsorship in 2021. Along with Tyler Reddick’s No. 8 NASCAR Cup Series Chevrolet, Alsco will be on the No. 2 Chevrolet driven by Myatt Snider in the Xfinity Series. Alsco will be featured as the primary partner on Snider’s car as well as a full-season associate partner for both cars.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Atlanta field packed with previous winners

Of the six different race winners at Atlanta since the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned to the 1.5-mile circuit in 2015 after a two-year break, five are in the field for Saturday’s Fr8Auctions 200 (2:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Grant Enfinger (2020), Kyle Busch (2019), Brett Moffitt (2018), John Hunter Nemechek (2016) and Matt Crafton (2015) are all looking to capture the checkered flag once again in Georgia. The only winner from that span not entered in the race is Christopher Bell (2017 winner).

Of those, Busch is the only driver who has won multiple races at Atlanta – five total, in fact. And only Nemechek has won thus far in 2021 (the most recent race in Las Vegas).

Crafton leads both the pack of previous winners and all active Camping World Truck Series drivers overall in top-10 finishes at Atlanta with 10. Busch trails with nine top 10s and leads all with eight top-five results.

Busch also has the most laps led at 516, while Crafton has led 184 at Atlanta. Moffitt (two laps led) may win the award for most efficient use of his time in getting to a win at Atlanta. Nemechek trails him slightly with eight laps led.

Toyota to lead field to green for Saturday’s race

After their one-two finish two weeks ago at Las Vegas, Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyotas will lead the field to the green in Saturday’s Fr8Auctions 200 (2:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

John Hunter Nemechek starts on the pole while Kyle Busch will start second. And after their dominant performance in Las Vegas, Toyotas will occupy the next two rows, as well. Matt Crafton (ThorSport Racing) and Stewart Friesen (Halmar Friesen Racing) will start in third and fourth, respectively, while Ben Rhodes (ThorSport Racing) and Austin Hill (Hattori Racing Enterprises) will hold down the third row.

Two weeks ago, Toyota Tundra trucks took the top five positions in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and they did it with four different teams.

Kyle Busch Motorsports took the top two positions with Nemechek winning while team namesake Busch finished second. Hattori Racing Enterprises driver Austin Hill was third, Halmar Friesen Racing’s Stewart Friesen finished fourth, and ThorSport Racing’s Matt Crafton finished fifth.

Toyota book-ended the top 10 with Christian Eckes in ninth and Rhodes in 10th – both being ThorSport drivers.

The balance of the top 10 was filled by Chevrolets. Zane Smith and GMS Racing were sixth, Grant Enfinger’s spot start for CR7 Motorsports netted a seventh-place finish, and Parker Kligerman’s first start of the season landed him in eighth with a Henderson Motorsports truck.

Bill Lester joins the field in Atlanta

Bill Lester made his first of two NASCAR Cup Series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2006, and 15 years later he returns to the scene to race the No. 17 Ford for Team DGR this Saturday in the Fr8Auctions 200 (2:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

When Lester took the green flag that year, he was the first Black driver to race in the Cup Series in nearly 20 years (since Willie T. Ribbs in 1986). And while he made just two Cup Series starts in his career, he did race in 142 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races between 2000 and 2007, notching a trio of poles, two top fives and seven top 10s.

Part of Lester’s motivation to return to the grid came from the recent publication of his book “Winning in Reverse: Defying the Odds and Achieving Dreams” that he wrote with Jonathan Ingram.

“I talk about getting out of your comfort zone and this will truly be an example of me getting out of my comfort zone,” Lester said. “I could very easily continue to sit on the couch and watch, but here I am going to jump back in the deep end at one of the fastest tracks on the circuit.”

Lester will start 31st this weekend.

John Hunter Nemechek’s gamble on himself pays off in Vegas

In the off-season, John Hunter Nemechek surprised many in NASCAR when he announced he was returning to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series following his first full-time year of NASCAR Cup Series competition. His reason for pairing up with Kyle Busch Motorsports for the 2021 season was clear – he wanted to win.

Mission accomplished.

Two weeks ago, Nemechek led his truck owner across the line to win his first of the season at Las Vegas, and his seventh overall in the series. It was his first Camping World Truck Series victory since the spring Martinsville race in 2018.

The win also marked the first for Nemechek for a team other than NEMCO Motorsports – owned by his dad, Joe. But the Vegas celebration still had a strong family connection as the Nemecheks became the first father-son pairing to win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Joe won the Xfinity Series race in 2003.)

With the series heading to Atlanta Motor Speedway this Saturday, March 20, for the Fr8Auctions 200 (2:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), Nemechek has to feel confident that he can continue winning. His first two career wins came on 1.5-mile tracks – including a 2016 victory at Atlanta in the second race of the season.

The win at Vegas brought an additional early-season accolade to Nemechek – he took over the series points lead from Ben Rhodes and now holds a 14-point advantage over the driver who won the first two races of the season.

Smith, Hocevar continue to lead Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings

Not much changed atop the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings following the third race of the year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two weeks ago. Chandler Smith continues to lead Carson Hocevar by a significant points total after the trio of opening races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.

Smith was the highest-finishing Sunoco Rookie contender for the second week in a row after finishing 19th in Vegas. Hocevar was 24th in the race.

However, a slight shake-up occurred further down in the standings, as Chase Purdy and Kris Wright moved up past Hailie Deegan into third and fourth, respectively. This comes on the heels of a 23rd-place finish by Purdy, while Wright crossed the line 25th. Deegan recorded a 28th-place result.

The standings might not stay that way long, however, as the three drivers all sit within four points of each in the standings.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year
Rookies Points Awards
Chandler Smith 90 2
Carson Hocevar 68 1
Chase Purdy 39 0
Kris Wright 37 0
Halie Deegan 35 0
Tim Viens 0 0

— NASCAR —