NASCAR at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Fold of Honor QuikTrip 500
Atlanta Motor Speedway Distance: 500.5 miles (325 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 85),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 170), Final Stage (Ends on lap 325)
Sunday, March 5 2:30 p.m. ET TV: FOX, 2:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

NASCAR XFINITY Series Rinnai 250
Atlanta Motor Speedway Distance: 251.02 miles (163 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 40),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 80), Final Stage (Ends on lap 163)
Saturday, March 4 2 p.m. ET TV: FS1, 1:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Active Pest Control 200
Atlanta Motor Speedway Distance: 200.2 miles (130 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 40),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 180), Final Stage (Ends on lap 130)
Saturday, March 4 4:30 p.m. ET TV: FS1, 4:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Milestone Alert: 2,500th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race
Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway marks the 2,500th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Below are some stats from the first 2,499 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
races.
· The first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race was held at Charlotte Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina on June 19, 1949 – the race was won by Jim Roper (Lincoln)
· 186 drivers have won a race
· The series has competed on 156 different tracks
· 234 different drivers have won a Coors Light Pole
· 2,536 drivers have made a start

Busch Wins DAYTONA 500
After finishing runner-up in the DAYTONA 500 three times (2003, 2005, 2008), Kurt Busch won his first Great American Race by leading only the final lap.
The 2004 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion is the 15th title-winner to visit Victory Lane in the DAYTONA 500. Busch’s triumph also marked the first DAYTONA 500 win for owner Tony Stewart
and crew chief Tony Gibson.
“There is nothing predictable about this race anymore, and the more years that have gone by that I didn’t win I kept trying to go back to patterns that I had seen in the past,” Busch said of the
race, which featured three lead changes on the final three laps. “My mirror fell off with 30 laps to go, and I couldn’t even see out the back. It just got crazy and wild, and I am so proud of all
the drivers at the end. We put on a show for a full fuel run, and nobody took each other out, and it was one of the smartest chess games I have seen out there.”

Busch’s win was also the first for Ford with Stewart-Haas Racing. Coincidentally, his primary sponsor is Monster Energy and he won the first-ever Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Busch will go for his second consecutive win in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX) – a track where he’s won three times.

NASCAR Set To Debut Lower Downforce Package At Atlanta
This season, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series continues last year’s efforts of lessening aerodynamic forces from the cars. These efforts make the car harder to driver, which emphasizes the drivers’ ability to get the most out of the car. Below are the changes under the 2017 rules package, which decreased downforce from 2,100 pounds last year to 1,600 pounds:

· Spoiler height decrease from 3.5 inches to 2.375 inches

· Outboard regions of the splitter are reduced by 3 inches

· Deck fin is tapered to match spoiler height

· Drivers must start the race on the tires used in qualifying

 

Johnson Goes For Sixth Atlanta Victory
Active Atlanta wins leader Jimmie Johnson will go for his sixth victory at the 1.54-mile track this weekend.
The seven-time champion boasts five wins, 14 top fives and 16 top 10s in the Peach State. He also owns the top average running position (8.7) and driver rating (107.1), as well as the third-best average finish (9.6) at AMS. Johnson has won the most recent two Atlanta races. Both were held in February/March after the race was moved from Labor Day weekend for the 2015 season. The last driver prior to Johnson to win at Atlanta was his teammate Kasey Kahne in 2014.

 

Hotlanta: Elliott Takes Home Track Looking For First Win
A native of Dawsonville, Georgia, Chase Elliott will take the wheel in his home state this weekend for Sunday’s Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.Elliott finished eighth in his only start there as a rookie last season. The No. 24 Chevrolet driver is holding his Chase U program at AMS this weekend. Fans currently enrolled in college can buy a $24 ticket for a seat in the Lower Winners Grandstand, free parking at the race and admission into the exclusive Chase U tailgate party taking place from 10 a.m. to noon on the day of the race. The tailgate will include complimentary food and beverage for each ticketholder, live music, tailgate games, a Daytona USA racing simulator and a free-entry cornhole tournament with prizes and awards. Elliott will make an appearance at the party for a special Q&A session with tailgate attendees and will take time afterwards to meet with fans.

 

Kahne Hopes He’s Able At One Of His Top Tracks
Kasey Kahne has failed to win a race in his last 84 starts. On Sunday, he returns to the site of his last victory – Atlanta Motor Speedway. Kahne came up clutch at the Georgia track on Aug. 31, 2014, leading 24 laps and making the playoffs in a “win-or-go-home” situation.In 20 Atlanta starts, Kahne claims three wins, seven top fives and nine top 10s. He’s led 353 laps at the 1.54-mile track.

Stage racing has changed the races as drivers are pushing hard through out the race for points.

NASCAR XFINITY Series

Ryan Reed’s Daytona Win Has A Season Worth Of Perks
Winning the season opener has its perks, and this season’s Daytona International Speedway victor, Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed, is well aware of the prestige and spoils that come with it. For starters, winning all but guarantees Reed a spot in the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs. Now all he has to do is qualify for the remaining regular season events and stay inside the top 30 in
points. In addition to the win, Reed captured five playoff points which he can use to his advantage come reseeding time during the playoffs. “Having a race team that believes in you is half the battle,” said series points leader Ryan Reed. “If you show up to the race track and you have your guys already questioning you, you’re already beat. And I don’t have that.” Reed’s Daytona prowess has been one of the series-best over the last few seasons. This past Saturday, Reed posted an average running position of 7.8, a driver rating of 108.2 and spent 83.1% of his laps completed inside the top 15. Reed holds the standings lead with a nine-point edge over second-place Brendan Gaughan. By winning the race Reed scored 40 points, but he also finished fourth in Stage 2; where he banked seven more points to bring his total to a series-leading 47 points after Daytona. Heading to Atlanta this weekend, Reed will look to hold on to his points lead. The Bakersfield, California, native has made three starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, posting a best finish of 15th
last season. Reed will be looking to become the first driver to win the first two races of the NASCAR XFINITY Series season since Tony Stewart did it in 2008 (Daytona, Auto Club Speedway).

 

Veterans Gaughan, Sadler Start 2017 Strong
Seasoned drivers, Brendan Gaughan and Elliott Sadler, have kicked off the 2017 season right where they left off in 2016 – the top 12 in points. Following a wild race in Daytona, Gaughan is now second in the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings, nine points behind Ryan Reed in the standings lead. Richard Childress Racing’s Brendan Gaughan led 16 laps last weekend at Daytona en route to a fifth-place finish yielding 32 points. But Gaughan also capitalized on the first two Stages; finishing ninth in Stage 1 (two more points) and seventh in Stage 2 (four more points) bringing his total to 38. Gaughan rolls into Atlanta this weekend having made five starts on the 1.5-mile speedway posting an average finish of 17.2. He posted a series career-best finish (12th) at Atlanta in 2015.

Last season’s championship runner-up, Elliott Sadler burst into 2017 looking a strong as ever, as he currently sits third in the series standings, 14 points back from the standings leader. Touted as one of the best restrictor-plate racers in the series, Sadler dominated most of the season-opening race at Daytona by leading 40 laps and winning the first two Stages before being caughtin an accident relegating him to a 24th-place finish. Sadler’s finish in the Final Stage garnered him 13 points, but by winning the first two Stages he also gathered an additional 20 points (10 points from each Stage win) to bring his total to 33. Plus, Sadler’s Stage wins rewarded him with two playoff points (one for each Stage win), which will be to his advantage come time for reseeding in the playoffs. Expect Sadler to keep his early season momentum going at Atlanta, where he has made 11 series starts posting one top five and six top 10s.

 

Sunoco Rookie Recap: Byron Heads To Atlanta On Top
With such a high level of talent within the five Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders in the 2017 class, is shouldn’t be a surprise if they rocket to stardom. Sunoco Rookie Standings Following Daytona: William Byron (13), Matt Tifft (10), Daniel Hemric (9), Spencer Gallagher (8) and Cole Custer (7).

JR Motorsports William Byron won the Sunoco Rookie of the Race award at Daytona this past weekend and opens the season with the lead in the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. Byron started the race 17th and battled his way up to a ninth-place finish. Byron is also ranked 10th in the NASCAR XFINITY Series driver points, 19 points behind Ryan Reed in the standings lead.

 

This weekend will be Byron’s NASCAR XFINITY Series track debut at Atlanta.
JR Motorsports is hoping Byron can bring the organization its second Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the last four seasons (Chase Elliott, 2014).

Busch Is Back To Defend His Atlanta Win
Nobody wins more than Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
He owns the series record for wins with 86 victories in 328 starts (26.2%) – 10 of which came last season. But it wasn’t until his 2016 win from the pole that he had been to Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Victory Lane. Busch has won at 24 different tracks in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (three are no longer active in the series – Mexico City, Lucas Oil Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park). With his win at Atlanta this past season, he now only has four active tracks on the schedule he has never won at: Mid-Ohio, Road America, Watkins Glen and Pocono.

Having foregone the season opener at Daytona this season, Kyle Busch returns to the series this weekend looking to defend his lone Atlanta win in the Rinnai 250 (on FS1 at 1:30 p.m. ET). Busch had made 12 starts at Atlanta, posting one win (2016), eight top fives, nine top 10s and an average finish of 11.0.

NXS Atlanta Quick Facts:
Number of XFINITY races – 25
Most Starts – Jason Keller (17)
Most Poles – Kyle Busch (5)
Most Wins – Kevin Harvick (4)
Most Top Fives – Kevin Harvick (9)
Most Top 10s – Kevin Harvick (11)
Most Laps Completed – Jason Keller (2,985)
Most Laps Led – Kevin Harvick (768)
Most Cautions – 10 (1993)
Average Number of Cautions (since 1992) – 5.48
Most Caution Laps – 52 Laps (1993)
Average Number of Caution Laps (since 1992) – 28.56 Laps
Most Number of Leaders – 11 (2008)
Average Number of Leaders (since 1992) – 6.92
Most Number of Lead Changes – 21 (twice: 2008 and 2011)
Average Number of Lead Changes (since 1992) – 12.84

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Rookie Kaz Grala Puts His Stamp On Daytona And The Record Books
Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate and GMS Racing driver Kaz Grala, has taken the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2017 season by storm. Not only did he win the pole and then the race at Daytona International Speedway but he also snatched the series standings lead on his way out of town.

Grala clutches the standings lead over second-place and defending series champion Johnny Sauter by 14 points. Not only did Grala burst on the scene as a winner he also holds a few records now. Grala has become the 33rd quickest driver (fewest races) in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history to get his first career win – having won in just his 10th series start. He also has become the
youngest pole winner and race winner in series history at Daytona International Speedway at 18 years, 1 month and 26 days. And if that wasn’t enough, he is just the fourth driver in series history to win at Daytona from the pole; joining Jack Sprague (2007), Mark Martin (2006) and Joe Ruttman (2001). Grala, a Westborough, Massachusetts native will be making his series track-debut this
weekend in Atlanta.

 

Sauter Again Looks Like A Championship-Contending Force To Reckon With
Considered one of the best restrictor-plate active drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Johnny Sauter showcased his skills this past weekend at Daytona International Speedway by dominating the first two Stages of the race and bringing home a 15th-place finish. The performance secured him second place in the standings, just 14 points back from standings leader Kaz Grala.

Though Sauter’s finish wasn’t a win, he was still able to capitalize on pivotal parts of the race. By winning both Stages, he tallied totaling 42 points (10 per Stage win, 22 via his finish at the checkered flag) and also captured two playoff points, which will be to his advantage come playoff reseeding time. Sauter led a race-high 52 laps at Daytona and looked to be one of the trucks to beat this season. GMS Racing’s Sauter will be looking to rebound from his performance last season at Atlanta where he finished 28th (second-worst finish of 2016). Sauter has made six starts at Atlanta, posting two top 10s and an average finish of 16.8.

 

John Hunter Nemechek Returns To Atlanta To Defend His Victory
Whenever NEMCO Motorsport’s driver John Hunter Nemechek wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series it seems like a victory for the ‘underdogs.’ John Hunter and his father Joe Nemechek have built NEMCO Motorsports from the ground up and they will be quick to explain how they might not have all the funding some of the other teams have nor the numbers in staff, but they make up for it in heart and hard work.

Nemechek returns to Atlanta this season as the defending race winner. John Hunter started 18th last season and raced his way to victory; the first of two wins for the Mooresville, North Carolina native. He sits eighth in the current series standings, 22 points back from Kaz Grala in the standings lead, following his fourth-place finish at Daytona last weekend.

This season NEMCO Motorsports has grown to a two-truck operation that both John Hunter and Joe will now be driving for.

 

Seven Different Winners In Last Seven Atlanta Races: Will We See Eight?
Over the last seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Atlanta Motor Speedway we have seen seven different winners – John Hunter Nemechek (2016), Matt Crafton (2015), Ty Dillon (2012), Ron Hornaday Jr. (2011), Kevin Harvick (2010), Kyle Busch (2009) and Ryan Newman (2008) – begging the question, will we see an eighth?

An eighth different winner is possible, but it might be tough for them to break through with a win because Nemechek, Crafton and Busch are all entered this weekend to snap the streak.

Nemechek won in his only start at Atlanta and Busch holds the series record for average finishing positions at Atlanta with a 2.375. Plus, Crafton has led the series in wins on 1.5-mile speedway over the last two season with six victories.

On the other hand, the last four Atlanta winners have all been NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship contenders.

NASCAR
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Graphics & Photos Courtesy of NASCAR

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