Bell Snags NCWTS Atlanta Pole
HAMPTON, Ga.— Christopher Bell will start from the pole in today’s Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway giving Kyle Busch Motorsports the sweep of the front row.
The opening round saw spin by Mike Harmon in turn one after just leaving the pit lane. Drivers were picking up about one to one and a half seconds when they hit the track. Christopher Bell was fastest at180.834 mph, Chase Briscoe was second fastest at 179.982 mph, Timothy Peters was third at 179.621 mph, Noah Grayson was fourth at 179.539 mph, and Austin Cindric rounded out the top-five at 179.447 mph. Norm Benning, Jennifer Jo Cobb, and J.J. Yeley will not start in the late Saturday afternoon race.
In the final round, Bell laid down a lap of 180.922 mph. Kyle Busch will qualified second at 180.105 mph, Cindric qualified third at 179.901 mph, Briscoe qualified fourth at 179.902 mph, and Alex Bowman rounded out the top-five at a speed of 179.557 mph.
The Active Pest Control 200 from Atlanta will begin at 4:30 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network.
Harvick Grabs Second Atlanta Pole
HAMPTON, Ga.— Kevin Harvick will start from the pole in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500. Harvick laid down a fast lap around the 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway at 190.398 mph. This is Harvick’s 18th career pole. Harvick outlasted Ryan Newman for the pole by .081 seconds for his second career Atlanta pole.
“We spent a lot of (in practice) in race trim, just not knowing this package and running Fords. We just threw the qualifying package in there at the end and it was way too tight,” Harvick said. “It’s just a tremendous credit to Stewart-Haas Racing, winning the Daytona 500 with (Kurt Busch) last week and having all the cars run great. Then to come here and see the progress that we’ve made.
The first round of qualifying saw only five drivers not make a time due to inspection issues. Drivers who did not advance to the second round include Clint Bowyer who will start 25th, Kasey Kahne, who will start 29th, and Aric Almirola, who will start 30th. No drivers will be sent home as 39 drivers competed for 40 spots. Kyle Busch was the fastest in the opening round with a speed of 190.280 mph, Newman was second at 189.850 mph, Jamie McMurray was third fastest at 189.571 mph, Denny Hamlin was fourth fastest at 189.526 mph, and Harvick rounded out the top-five at 189.396 mph.
The second round of qualifying went off without a hitch. Newman was the fastest in this round at 189.772 mph, Ky. Busch was second fastest at 189.694 mph, Harvick was third fastest at 189.519 mph, Brad Keselowski was fourth fastest at 188.925 mph, and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five at 188.751. Notable drivers who did not advance were Kurt Busch (P13), Matt Kenseth (P16), and Jimmie Johnson (P18).
The final round saw the sun setting deeper into turn one creating a blind spot for drivers. Harvick was able to grab the pole. Newman qualified second ay 189.870 mph, Ky. Busch qualified third at 189.850 mph, Stenhouse Jr. qualified fourth at 188.854 mph, and Keselowski rounded out the top-five by qualifying with a speed of 188.783 mph.
Inspection Issues Plague MENCS Qualifying
HAMPTON, Ga.— With a new rules package and a new season upon the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS), inspection becomes an issue for the first couple of races as teams try to find the red tape.
Qualifying was not going to be delayed due to the inspection issues because every team had made one attempt at inspection well before 5 p.m. EST.
NASCAR said that teams were pushing the limits on the templates. Before teams hit the track for practice, they will go through a safety inspection before hitting the track. Teams had the option earlier today to go through the templates. Many teams did take advantage of that option.
According to Elton Sawyer, Vice President of Officiating and Technical Inspections, stated, “The teams asked for this and they’ve asked us to stay consistent and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
According to the NASCAR Rule Book, drivers must start the race on the same tires they qualified on. The drivers who did not make a lap will start the race on sticker tires compared to those who made laps in qualifying.
Michael McDowell, Cole Whitt, Jeffery Earnhardt, Derrike Cope, and Cody Ware did not make a lap in qualifying due to the inspection issues.
Tire Wear Crucial in MENCS Qualifying
HAMPTON, Ga.— With new rules being at the forefront at the beginning of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS), Atlanta provides unique challenges and great unknowns.
Tires will be a hot commodity throughout all three national divisions. In MENCS competition, drivers will have to race on the same tires they qualify on at the beginning of Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500.
Teams are limited to five sets or practice, one set for qualifying and the start of the race, and 12 sets for the race. The tires are the same ones used last year at the track.
When asked before qualifying, many drivers weren’t concerned about playing conservative with tire wear.
“I don’t think anybody will. I think the big thing is just trying to hit your laps. Ideally, you want to make three laps in qualifying. You want to try to get yourself into the top 24 and then the top 12 and then make a run at the pole. I think if you mess up in a round, it’s going to be really hard pressed to be able to run again and have a realistic expectation of having a shot at the pole. I think it’s real important to hit on that first try,” said Chase Elliott, who is racing at his home track this weekend.
“I was talking with some people a little bit ago. They told me, You don't know what you don't know. So this is new for me. I don't really know the old tire. This is the only tire I know, the only tire I will know. You don't really know what you don't know. This is what I got. This is what I going to start with,” said Daniel Suarez, who is making his first MENCS start in Atlanta.
“We will just have to see how it goes. We are eternally optimistic and always think that we have a shot at the pole. If you don’t think that in the final round you have a shot at the pole you can choose to just sit and save a lap on your tires. It might be worth it at a track with so much wear like this. I doubt that will happen. The competitor in all of us is going to kick in and we are all going to think we can make an adjustment and go out and adjust the car. It does put us, especially at a track like this one, put us in a position where we have to be conservative with our tire allotment and how we use them and how many laps we put on every set that we can take to the race,” said Jimmie Johnson, who is going for three in a row this weekend.
Qualifying for MENCS will be at 5:30 p.m. EST on Performance Racing Network and Fox Sports 1.
NCWTS: Active Pest Control 200 Preview
HAMPTON, Ga.— The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) will bookend a busy Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway with the Active Pest Control 200.
36 drivers will be competing for 32 spots in the late Saturday afternoon spectacular. Notable drivers include Chase Elliot and Alex Bowman.
This will be the 16th race weekend at Atlanta for NCWTS teams. There have been 10 different pole winners. 11 different drivers have made their way into victory lane. Four different drivers have won the race from the pole. The last driver to do so was Ty Dillon in 2012. Ron Hornaday Jr. set the race record in 2005 at 142.424 mph. In 2005, Rick Crawford set the qualifying record at 192.735 mph.
Drivers are excited to return to Atlanta before their month long break.
"Atlanta is one of my favorite tracks that we go to in the Camping World Truck Series. It is really worn out, so it races really slick. It is line dependent, so you have to make sure that you consistently hit your marks every lap. I was really fast there last year and so were all of my KBM teammates. Kyle (Busch) is going to be racing this year and I can't wait to give him a run for his money,” said Christopher Bell.
"I'm really excited to get to Atlanta: We got to test there last month, and the entire team and I feel really confident in our Cooper Standard Ford F-150. It's always fun for me to go to places I've never raced at before and learn the racetrack, so Atlanta has been one place I've had circled on the schedule since long before the season started. It's known for having no grip, and you are sliding around a lot, so I really feel like that will play into a dirt guy's background. Hopefully we can continue our momentum from Daytona and get our first win of the year early in the season,” said Chase Briscoe.
"Last year at Atlanta I struggled to get the truck where I needed it early in the race. I learned a lot that weekend and by the end of the race, we had some good speed and were able to finish fifth. This weekend we're heading to a track that I have some experience on, combined with my crew chief Jeff Hensley, who has found lots of speed in the past. I look forward to a good weekend in Atlanta with our RIDE TV Toyota Tundra,” said Grant Enfinger.
Qualifying for the Active Pest Control 200 from Atlanta will be at 10:40 a.m. EST on Fox Sports 1. Motor Racing Network and Fox Sports 1 will have the race broadcast beginning at 4:30 p.m. EST.m