NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Ambetter Health 400
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, March 19
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
The Purse: $8,725,965
TV: FOX, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400 miles (260 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 260)
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: RAPTOR King of Tough 250
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 18
The Time: 5 p.m. ET
The Purse: $1,274,624
TV: FS1, 4 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 CRAFTSMAN Truck Series
Next Race: Fr8 208
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 18
The Time: 2 p.m. ET
The Purse: $673,693
TV: FS1, 1 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 207.9 miles (135 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 135)
NASCAR Cup Series
Red Hot William Byron heads to Atlanta looking for third straight victory in 2023
The last two NASCAR Cup Series races have seen cautions in the final laps giving Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron the last chance opportunities he needed to snag the two victories at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway. Now, the 25-year-old, Byron, heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Ambetter Health 400 on Sunday, March 19 at 3 p.m. ET (FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) looking for his third straight victory in the NASCAR Cup Series. If he accomplishes the feat this weekend, he will become just the sixth active driver to win three or more consecutive NASCAR Cup Series races and the 25th all-time. Byron is the defending spring race winner of the newly remodeled Atlanta Motor Speedway, taking the win over second-place Ross Chastain by a scant 0.145-second last season — the fourth closest finish in the series at Atlanta all-time.
The five active drivers that have won three or more consecutive Cup races are Kyle Larson (twice in 2021), Kyle Busch (2015, 2018), Brad Keselowski (2018), Kevin Harvick (2018) and Joey Logano (2015).
In four starts this season, Byron has put up two wins (Las Vegas, Phoenix) and has led 240 laps. His average finish this year is 15.3. His season-to-date driver rating is 107.2 (series-best), his average running position is 7.8 (second-best) and he has spent 84.1% of his laps completed running in the top-15.
Looking ahead to this weekend at Atlanta, Byron has made seven series starts at the 1.54-mile track posting one win (2022), one top five and two top 10s.
Atlanta Motor Speedway gears-up for Cup
The NASCAR Cup Series and Atlanta Motor Speedway go way back, 63 years to be exact.
Originally called Atlanta International Raceway, the track was then a 1.5-mile paved speedway, and it hosted its first NASCAR Cup Series race on July 31, 1960. The inaugural Cup race was a 300-mile/200 lap event that had 45 competitors and was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Fireball Roberts from the pole position in a 1960 Pontiac. Cotton Owens led the most laps that day (52), but Roberts took the lead with just 13 to go to grab the victory.
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). The 2021 season marked the first time since 2010 that the series visited the facility more than once a year. Also, from 1987 to 2000 Atlanta Motor Speedway held the final championship race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
In total, there have been 117 NASCAR Cup races at Atlanta Motor Speedway since the first race there in 1960. The 117 NASCAR Cup Series races have produced 53 different pole winners and 47 different race winners. Seven of the 53 NASCAR Cup Series Atlanta Motor Speedway pole winners are active this weekend.
Active Atlanta Pole Winners (7)PolesSeasonKevin Harvick22017, 2014Aric Almirola12019Kyle Busch12018Joey Logano12015Ricky Stenhouse Jr12013Denny Hamlin12010Martin Truex Jr12009
NASCAR Hall of Famer Buddy Baker (1968, 1971, 1976, 1979 sweep, 1980, 1984) and Ryan Newman (2003 sweep, 2004 sweep, 2005 sweep, 2007) are tied for the NASCAR Cup Series most poles at Atlanta Motor Speedway with seven each. Kevin Harvick leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in Atlanta poles with two (2014, 2017).
Six of the 47 NASCAR Cup Series Atlanta Motor Speedway race winners are active this weekend.
Active Atlanta Race Winners (6)WinsSeasonsKevin Harvick32020, 2018, 2001Brad Keselowski22019, 2017Kyle Busch22013, 2008William Byron12022Ryan Blaney12021Denny Hamlin12012
NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway with nine victories (1980, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996, 2000). Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Kevin Harvick leads all active NASCAR Cup Series winners at Atlanta Motor Speedway with three victories (2001, 2018, 2020).
All the NASCAR Cup Series on-track activity at Atlanta Motor Speedway begins this Saturday, March 18 with Busch Light Pole Qualifying at 11:30 a.m. ET on FS1.
Keeping The Streak Alive: Chevrolet has won the first four Cup races of 2023
The first four races of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season have seen only one manufacturer in Victory Lane — Chevrolet.
This season from the Chevrolet camp, JTG Daugherty Racing‘s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the DAYTONA 500, Richard Childress Racing‘s Kyle Busch won at Auto Club Speedway and Hendrick Motorsports‘ William Byron has won the last two races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway.
In the Modern Era (1972-2023), a manufacturer has only swept a season‘s first four races four times and Chevrolet drivers are responsible for three of them — Chevrolet (1995, 2001, 2023) and Ford (1992).
A manufacturer has only swept the first five races of a NASCAR Cup Series season in the Modern Era (1972-2023) twice — Chevrolet (1995) and Ford (1992).
The record for the most consecutive wins by a manufacturer to start at NASCAR Cup Series season in the Modern Era (1972-2023) is nine straight victories by Ford in the 1992 season.
The most consecutive victories to start a NASCAR Cup Series season by Chevrolet was seven straight wins in the 1995 season — second-most in the Modern Era.
Alex Bowman is the only driver with four consecutive top-10 finishes this season
Consistency is paying off for Alex Bowman and the Hendrick Motorsports‘ No. 48 Chevrolet team, as they are the only NASCAR Cup Series team this season to score four consecutive top-10 finishes in as many races.
In four starts this season, Bowman has put up two top fives and four top 10s. He leads the series in average finish this year with a 6.3. Plus, his season-to-date driver rating is 95.7 (sixth-best), his average running position is 10.6 (sixth-best) and he has spent 81.4% of his laps completed running in the top-15 (sixth-best).
Bowman will look to keep the early success going this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he has made nine series starts posting two top fives and three top 10s. His average finish at the 1.54-mile track is 17.1.
Atlanta Motor Speedway‘s new configuration produced some stellar racing last season
When the NASCAR Next Gen car took to the newly reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway last March the expectations were really high, and the NASCAR Cup Series delivered — setting new statistical records even.
The race was won by Hendrick Motorsports‘ driver William Byron, but not before seeing a track record 46 lead changes among a track record 20 different leaders.
The Atlanta Motor Speedway NASCAR Cup Series race on March 20, 2023 also produced a series record for green flag passes for the lead on 1.5-mile tracks with 141 green flag passes for the lead (GFPL). The previous record for green flag passes for the lead on a 1.5-mile track in the NASCAR Cup Series was held by Texas Motor Speedway with 57 GFPL.
Atlanta Motor Speedway‘s 2022 spring race also produced a NASCAR Cup Series record for total green flag passes on 1.5-mile tracks with 6,439 total green flag passes. The previous record for total green flag passes on a 1.5-mile track in the NASCAR Cup Series was held by Charlotte Motor Speedway with 4,520 total green flag passes.
Last six Cup races at Atlanta have produced different winners
In the last six NASCAR Cup Series races at Atlanta Motor Speedway have produced six different winners — Brad Keselowski (2019), Kevin Harvick (2020), Ryan Blaney (Spring 2021), Kurt Busch (Fall 2021), William Byron (Spring 2022) and Chase Elliott (Fall 2022). Now, with the series rolling into Atlanta this weekend, will the fans get to see a seventh different winner?
A total of six NASCAR Cup Series Atlanta Motor Speedway race winners are active this weekend, led by Kevin Harvick (2001, 2018, 2020), and followed by Brad Keselowski (2017, 2019), Kyle Busch (2008, 2013), William Byron (2022), Ryan Blaney (2021) and Denny Hamlin (2012). The most recent winner at Atlanta, Chase Elliott, is sidelined this weekend with a broken leg from a snowboarding accident in Colorado.
One driver looking to add their name to the winners list at Atlanta Motor Speedway is Trackhouse Racing‘s Ross Chastain, who finished runner-up in both of the NASCAR Cup Series races at the 1.54-mile track last season.
Harvick is one of a few first-time Cup winners at Atlanta Motor Speedway
The NASCAR Cup Series has seen six different drivers win their first series career race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and probably the most memorable was Kevin Harvick‘s 2001 victory after replacing a late Dale Earnhardt at Richard Childress Racing.
The six drivers earning their first win at Atlanta are Carl Edwards (2005), Kevin Harvick (2001), Jerry Nadeau (2000), Jim Hurtubise (1966), Bob Burdick (1961), Bobby Johns (1960).
Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Kevin Harvick has made 34 career series starts at Atlanta posting two poles, three wins, nine top fives and 16 top 10s — all are series highs among the active drivers.
NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year Update: Gibbs grabs third rookie of the race award at Phoenix – Through four races this season, Joe Gibbs Racing‘s driver Ty Gibbs has won three Sunoco Rookie of the Race Awards and holds the rookie standings lead by 19 points over Legacy Motor Club‘s Noah Gragson.
This season, Gibbs has put up one top-20 finish (16th at Auto Club) and has an average finish of 22.8. Gibbs will be making his series track debut at Atlanta this weekend.
In four NASCAR Cup Series races this season, Gragson has posted two top-25 finishes (24th at Daytona and 22nd at Auto Club) and has an average finish of 26.3. Gragson has made two series starts at Atlanta posting an average finish of 35.5.
Parmalee to perform pre-race concert at Atlanta Motor Speedway – Country music stars Parmalee will perform a live pre-race concert for the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 19.
The Platinum-selling band of brothers will play their catalog of chart-topping hits. The North Carolina natives have enjoyed success with hits like their PLATINUM-certified No. 1 single with Blanco Brown, “Just the Way,” and follow-up single “Take My Name” from their most recent album For You. Since debuting on country radio, Parmalee has earned more than 1 billion on-demand streams.
SAG Award-winning actor Jesse Metcalfe named Co-Grand Marshal for Atlanta – SAG Award-winning actor and producer Jesse Metcalfe — one of the stars of Amazon Prime Video‘s upcoming film On a Wing and a Prayer, streaming April 7 — will give drivers the command to start their engines for the Ambetter Health 400.
Metcalfe will utter the most famous words in motorsports as part of his Co-Grand Marshal duties for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 19.
“As a big NASCAR fan and avid car enthusiast, I am super excited to be joining the stars of the NASCAR Cup Series here in Atlanta and uttering the most famous words in Motorsports,” said Metcalfe.
Tyler Reddick & 23XI Racing partner with Xfinity 10G – Tyler Reddick and the 23XI Racing team are announcing their newest partner, Xfinity and the provider‘s most powerful internet connection: Xfinity 10G.
The new partnership will debut on track at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 19 and in addition to the sponsorship on the car the partnership will include Xfinity 10G network integration and Xfinity Rewards customer fan experiences such as Pit Box VIP access, driver meet-and-greet appearances with Bubba Wallace, Tyler Reddick and more.
Reddick has made five NASCAR Cup Series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway posting one top-10 finish.
Cup Series driver milestone starts to watch for — Over the next few races several drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series will reach milestones starts if they continue to run fulltime in the series.
This weekend on March 19, Hendrick Motorsports‘ driver Kyle Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, will be making his 300th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Next weekend at Circuit of The Americas on March 26, Kaulig Racing‘s A.J. Allmendinger will be making his 400th career NASCAR Cup Series start.
Then at Richmond Raceway in two weeks on April 2, Team Penske‘s Austin Cindric will be making his 50th career NASCAR Cup Series start.
And at Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt on April 9, Richard Childress Racing‘s Kyle Busch will be making his 650th NASCAR Cup Series career start. Busch will become the 27th different NASCAR Cup Series driver all-time to make 650 or more starts.
Then at Talladega Superspeedway on April 23, Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Kevin Harvick will be making his 800th career NASCAR Cup Series career start. Harvick will become just the 10th different NASCAR Cup Series driver all-time to make 800 or more starts in the series.
Jimmie Johnson announces two more stops on his 2023 schedule — This week seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and Legacy Motor Club owner/driver Jimmie Johnson announced the next two races he will be competing in this season — Circuit of The Americas (March 26) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway‘s Coca Cola 600 (May 28).
“COTA has been on my racing ‘bucket list‘ for a very long time,” said Johnson. “But my timing was off by a year or so. I was hoping it was going to be on the INDYCAR schedule — and it wasn‘t — and then they added it to the NASCAR schedule after I left. I‘m excited to finally be able to check this one off the list and thankful to Club Wyndham for making it happen. From everything I‘ve heard, NASCAR drivers have had a lot of fun racing at COTA, so to say I‘m looking forward to it is an understatement.”
Johnson made his return to the series in the season opening DAYTONA 500, where he started 39th and finished 31st.
Johnson has gone on record saying he plans to run 10 races on a part-time schedule this season for Legacy Motor Club. With Daytona, COTA and Charlotte already lined-up Johnson plans to announce the remainder of his schedule at a later date.
Cup Series Featured Matchups: 2023 Ambetter Health 400 – Below is a close look at the featured matchups fans can bet on heading into this weekend‘s event.
William Byron vs. Kyle Larson
Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson will face off this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Byron is red hot right now winning the last two races on the 2023 schedule. But Larson has been upfront leading the most laps this year and posting two top fives. Byron might have the slight edge this weekend at Atlanta as he is the defending winner of this race, but Larson has the better career average finish (14.8) than Byron (18.1) at the 1.54-mile track.
Kevin Harvick vs. Tyler Reddick
Another great matchup this weekend is with the outgoing veteran Kevin Harvick vs. the rising star Tyler Reddick. Reddick got his first top-five of the season last weekend at Phoenix, and might have some momentum on his side, but it will be hard to pick against Harvick at Atlanta. Harvick leads all active drivers in wins (three), top fives (nine) and top 10s (17) on the 1.54-mile track. Reddick will have his work cut out for him this weekend at Atlanta, as the 23XI Racing driver was caught in incidents in both Atlanta races last season and did not finish.
Brad Keselowski vs. Bubba Wallace
Two top notch superspeedway racers will face off this weekend, RFK Racing‘s Brad Keselowski and 23XI Racing‘s Bubba Wallace. Both drivers have won superspeedway races in the NASCAR Cup Series but when it comes to performances at Atlanta, the nod goes to Keselowski. In 16 series starts Keselowski has managed two wins, four top fives and nine top 10s. His average finish at Atlanta is 15.1. Bubba Wallace on the other hand has only made seven starts at Atlanta posting a career-best finish of 13th in this race last season. Wallace‘s average finish at Atlanta is 19.5.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. vs. Austin Dillon
Another batch of great superspeedway winners are paired up this weekend for fans to bet on with Richard Childress Racing‘s Austin Dillon and 2023 Daytona 500 champion and JTG Daugherty Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. going at it. Looking ahead to Atlanta both Stenhouse (21.1) and Dillon (21.6) are in a near tie in average finish. Both drivers suffered DNFs in both Atlanta races last season, so it will be interesting to see which of the two drivers will rebound better this weekend.
Ryan Blaney vs. Daniel Suárez
Two drivers that jump started their 2023 seasons and will go head-to-head this weekend are Team Penske‘s Ryan Blaney and Trackhouse Racing‘s Daniel Suárez. Both drivers have run well at Atlanta, but Blaney might be the one you will want to lean towards this weekend. Suárez has made eight starts at Atlanta posting one top fives and three top 10s. He posted his career best finish at Atlanta in this race last season (fourth). Blaney has made nine starts at Atlanta posting one win (2021) and four top fives.
Georgia has welcomed NASCAR since the early years — The state of Georgia has hosted a total of 176 NASCAR Cup Series races among 12 different tracks dating as far back as 1951.
Georgia Track NamesCityCup RacesFirst Year With NASCAR RaceAtlanta Motor SpeedwayHampton1171960Augusta International SpeedwayAugusta121962Lakewood SpeedwayAtlanta111951Savannah SpeedwaySavannah101962Middle Georgia RacewayMacon91966Central City SpeedwayMacon71951Jeffco SpeedwayJefferson21968Valdosta 75 SpeedwayValdosta31962Oglethorpe SpeedwaySavannah21954Augusta International RacewayAugusta11964Columbus SpeedwayColumbus11951Hayloft SpeedwayAugusta11952Totals176
The first NASCAR Cup Series race held in the state of Georgia was on June 10, 1951 and held at Columbus Speedway, a half-mile dirt track, in Columbus, Georgia. The inaugural event in the state was a 100 mile / 200 lap feature that saw Atlanta, Georgia native Tim Flock win the race.
Atlanta Motor Speedway has hosted the most NASCAR Cup Series races of any track in the state of Georgia at 117 events.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Rookie Sammy Smith adds his name to the Xfinity Series winners list
With a near pole win last November in his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Phoenix Raceway, we learned that part-time driver Sammy Smith had speed at the Arizona one-mile track, and after posting a top-10 finish in that Xfinity Series championship race, we knew he could handle himself in a Xfinity Series car.
Now in his first full-time season with Joe Gibbs Racing, Smith went back to Phoenix Raceway to post his first win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series last weekend, becoming the youngest Xfinity Series winner at the track at 18 years old.
The win now puts Smith in sixth in the driver standings with 128 points, 67 points back from Austin Hill who currently leads the Xfinity Series driver standings. The victory also makes Smith the third different driver this season to already earn his spot in the Playoffs; joining Austin Hill (Daytona, Las Vegas) and John Hunter Nemechek (Fontana).
Smith will have a few days to enjoy the spoils of his victory before preparing to make his first start at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Although this will be his series track debut at Atlanta, he does have some experience on 1.5-mile tracks.
Last season, he posted a top-10 finish (eighth) at Kansas Speedway. If Smith goes back-to-back and takes the checkered flag this weekend, he will also go down as the youngest winner at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a title currently held by Ty Gibbs at 19 years, 5 months and 15 days.
Up Next: Atlanta Motor Speedway
With the conclusion of the West Coast Swing, the NASCAR Xfinity Series now sets its eyes on Atlanta Motor Speedway for the RAPTOR King of Tough 250 on Saturday, March 18 at 5 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR radio as part of a doubleheader Saturday with the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race, the FR8 208, at 2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
There have been 33 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Atlanta Motor Speedway producing 21 different race winners and 18 different pole winners. Seven races have been won from the pole or first starting position, most recently by Kyle Busch in 2021.
NASCAR Cup Series regular Kevin Harvick holds just about every Xfinity Series record at the Atlanta, Georgia track — most wins (five), top fives (11), top 10s (13), lead lap finishes (13), laps completed (3,135) and laps led (973).
Two previous winners are entered in this weekend‘s RAPTOR King of Tough 250 — JR Motorsports‘ Justin Allgaier (2021) and Richard Childress Racing‘s Austin Hill (2022).
Allgaier snagged his win in 2021. In his 14 starts at the 1.5-mile track, he has posted one win, three top fives and nine top 10s.
Hill made the trip to Victory Lane in just his second start at Atlanta Motor Speedway after finishing runner-up in his first start as a rookie in the Xfinity Series.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will be skipping practice this weekend and heading straight for qualifying on Friday, March 17 at 4:35 p.m. ET airing on FS1.
Who will be the “King of Tough”?
Obviously, the two favorites this weekend are the former Atlanta winners — Justin Allgaier and Austin Hill – but three drivers in the field that will be sure to give them a run for their money this Saturday are Riley Herbst, Daniel Hemric and Justin Haley.
Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Riley Herbst has given the Atlanta track a go five times in the Xfinity Series and has posted one top five and three top 10s. In last year‘s Spring Atlanta race, he raced his way up to a fourth-place finish after starting in the 24th position.
Kaulig Racing‘s Daniel Hemric has also put up some good stats at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In his seven starts, he‘s posted two top fives and four top 10s. Most recently, he worked his way up to a fifth-place finish after starting the race in the 16th position.
Cup Series regular Justin Haley will be pulling double duty and driving the No.10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet in this weekend‘s Xfinity Series race at Atlanta, a track that has treated him well. In his four Xfinity Series starts, he has posted two top fives and four top 10s. His most recent Xfinity Series stint at Atlanta Motor Speedway was in 2021 where he finished fourth.
Xfinity Playoff picture heading into Week 5
As NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers head into their fifth race of the season, Austin Hill leads the standings with his two wins (Daytona, Las Vegas) and 195 points. In second is John Hunter Nemechek who clinched his spot in the Playoffs with his win at Auto Club and currently sits with 165 points.
Justin Allgaier (156 points) and Chandler Smith (155 points) assume the third and fourth place spots in the standings heading into this weekend‘s race. Both drivers have posted three top fives and three top 10s this season thus far. Riley Herbst sits in the fifth position, tied with Smith on points (155).
Sammy Smith‘s win last weekend at Phoenix Raceway bumped him to sixth in the standings (128 points). Sam Mayer (128), Cole Custer (118), Josh Berry (114), Daniel Hemric (106), Sheldon Creed (105) and Parker Kligerman (99) round out the current Playoff outlook.
Just outside the cutline is Brett Moffitt (-12) and Ryan Sieg (-13).
NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.
Chad Chastain to make NASCAR Xfinity Series debut — Chad Chastain, brother of NASCAR Cup Series driver Ross Chastain, will be making his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Chad Chastain will be behind the wheel of the No. 91 Chevrolet for DGM Racing.
“I‘m thrilled to make my NASCAR Xfinity Series debut with DGM Racing, a Florida-based team, driving a ‘Protect Your Melon‘ Chevrolet just like I watched my brother do for years,” said Chastain.
Though this will be Chastain‘s first Xfinity Series start, he had made four starts in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series posting a best finish of 30th at Indianapolis Raceway Park and Homestead-Miami.
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series
CRAFTSMAN Truck Series kicks off doubleheader Saturday at Atlanta
After an action-packed weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series teams had a week to rest up and prepare for the Fr8 208 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which will kick off a doubleheader Saturday on March 18 at 2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, followed by the NASCAR Xfinity Series race, the RAPTOR Kings of Tough 250 at 5 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
There have been 21 CRAFTSMAN Truck Series races at the 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway track, producing 15 different race winners and 11 different pole winners. Five races have been won from the pole or first starting position, most recently by Christopher Bell in 2017.
Kyle Busch has made the most trips to Victory Lane (six) and has also posted the most top fives (nine) in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series at Atlanta. NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. and Mike Skinner are tied for most poles at the track (three each); while Matt Crafton holds the record for most top 10s (11), lead lap finishes (16) and laps completed (2,656).
TRICON Garage‘s Corey Heim is Atlanta Motor Speedway‘s most recent winner in the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series after snagging the lead from then Kyle Busch Motorsport‘s teammate Chandler Smith on the final lap.
The NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series will get the weekend jump started with qualifying on Friday, March 17 at 3:05 p.m. ET on FS1.
Atlanta Motor Speedway‘s fabulous four
The NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series drivers had last weekend off, but fans can be sure to expect some action-packed racing this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway as four previous winners are entered in the Fr8 208 (March 18 at 2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) — Corey Heim, Grant Enfinger, John Hunter Nemechek and Matt Crafton.
Heim is the most recent winner at the track (2022). He posted the win in his first and only start at Atlanta Motor Speedway. If he goes back-to-back, he will be the second driver in CRAFTSMAN Truck Series history to post consecutive wins at Atlanta, after only Kyle Busch (2007, 2008).
Enfinger has seven starts at the track with one win (2020), three top fives and five top 10s. In last season‘s Atlanta race, he led 14 laps and ultimately finished in 12th.
Nemechek, who is running fulltime in the Xfinity Series this season, will be piloting the No.17 Toyota for TRICON Garage this weekend. In his five CRAFTSMAN Truck Series starts at Atlanta, he‘s posted one win (2016), two top fives and two top 10s.
Crafton has started 21 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, posting one win (2015), six top fives and 11 top 10s. He has led for a total of 188 laps and has an average start of 12.0 and an average finish of 12.2 at the 1.54-mile track.
Fast start for defending series champ Zane Smith
Front Row Motorsports‘ Zane Smith made a name for himself last season with his season-opening win at Daytona and his victory in the championship at Phoenix Raceway.
Smith made sure to ride that momentum into the 2023 season and pulled off yet another season-opening win at Daytona and a runner-up finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Now as the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series gears up for this weekend‘s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Smith can be sure that his name is on everyone‘s minds as a possible winner.
Although he‘s only made three starts at the 1.54-mile track, he‘s posted two top fives and three top 10s. Last season, he even managed to work his way up to a fifth-place finish after starting in the 25th position.
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, Etc.
Sunoco Rookie class update — The NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year class now has two races marked off and they‘re all sitting close in the standings.
Nick Sanchez currently leads the rookies with 31 points. He won the pole in the season-opener at Daytona and has posted a best-finish of 26th this season. He will be making his series track debut this weekend at Atlanta.
Jake Garcia takes the second-place spot just four points behind Sanchez (27). He posted his first top-10 finish in the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and will look to make his first start at his home track of Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend.
Just one point behind Garcia is Rajah Caruth (26). He‘s posted 29th-place finishes in both races this season. He will be making his first start at Atlanta Motor Speedway in this weekend.
William Byron to run select races for Kyle Busch Motorsports — NASCAR Cup Series regular and KBM alum William Byron will be running a three-race schedule behind the wheel of the No. 51 Chevrolet in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
His three-race stint will start at Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt on April 8, followed by Darlington Raceway on May 12 and North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 20.
— NASCAR —