NXS: Rinnai 250 Preview
HAMPTON, Ga.— The NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Rinnai 250, the kick-off to a double header day with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
44 drivers are coming to Atlanta in an effort to compete for 40 spots. Nine Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers are scheduled to compete in the Saturday afternoon spectacular including Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
This will be the 26th race at Atlanta for the series. 16 drivers have won a pole. 16 drivers have won a race at Atlanta. Only five drivers have won the race from starting from the pole position with Ky. Busch being the last one to do so in last year’s race. In 2015, the race record was set by Harvick at 149.813 mph. In 2003, Greg Biffle set the qualifying record at 192.3 mph.
NXS drivers are excited to return to Atlanta for their only visit in 2017.
“Atlanta is one of the faster mile-and-a-halfs we go to. The pavement is extremely worn out, so finding a balance between saving tires and having that sheer speed the track allows you to have is key. I feel like we’ve got a great BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevy and we’re looking forward to going back there. With the new rules package this will be our first test at the shorter spoiler and splitter, so there’s a lot of unknowns. Luckily we have three other great teammates that we’re going to be able to rely on and bounce information off of,” said Justin Allgaier.
"Atlanta is unique in that tire management is going to play a big role in having a successful race. We did a great job taking care of our tires last year, so we'll need to make sure to do that again this time around. Atlanta is also one of those tracks where it gets wider as the race goes on, which gives you a lot of options on where to run on the track. The top line really worked to our advantage last season, so it'll be important for us to be able to search and find the line that will give us an edge on our competition again,” said Brandon Jones.
“It’s a lot of fun to race at Atlanta. It’s a really fast track that keeps you on your toes all the time. We’re ready to get after it this weekend with our Leidos Mustang. My guys have been working hard in the shop and I’m confident that (crew chief) Seth (Barbour) will give me a solid Ford that will let us get out there and get the job done,” said Darrell Wallace Jr.
Drivers will have two practice sessions from Atlanta on Friday beginning at 10:00 a.m. EST and 3:30 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1. Drivers will qualify on Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m on Fox Sports 1. The Rinnai 250 will be at 2:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1 and Performance Racing Network.
MENCS: Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 Preview
HAMPTON, Ga.— The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Folds of Honor Quick Trip 500 for the 2,500 MENCS race. This weekend will also feature the new lower downforce package that will be used throughout the 2017 season.
39 drivers are scheduled to arrive in Atlanta. Notable drivers include Gray Gaulding, who is making his first MENCS start, and the return of Derrike Cope, who last raced in the MENCS back in 2009.
This is also the final race on the old worn out surface that drivers love at Atlanta. The track was last repaved back in 1997, nearly two decades ago.
This will be the 110th race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 50 drivers have won a pole at the track. There have been 43 different race winners. 14 races have been won from the pole position with Kasey Kahne being the last driver to do so in 2006. The race record was set by Bobby Labonte in 1997 at 159.904 mph. Geoff Bodine set the qualifying record in 1997 at 197.478 mph.
Drivers are pumped to return to Atlanta for the final time on the worn out surface.
“It has always been the surface and now that is changing, but the banking. The banking is a big part of it. I think it’s the steepest 1.5-mile we run on. It’s always put up that short run speed and then the age of the surface has given us the character that we all like in the track. But, we are going to be going so fast when we go back there this year,” said Jimmie Johnson, who will be going for three wins in a row at Atlanta.
“Atlanta is one of the most worn-out surfaces that we go to these days, and I always think that the older surface makes for some fun racing, even though the surface may not let us go as fast as you could on newer pavement. At Atlanta, you need to be decent at the beginning of a run, but also good at the end of a run when you are on older tires. It’s often hard to find that balance with your race car because these races can come down to a short run. This weekend will really be the first time that we see the new rules package come into play for the season since it’s not a superspeedway race. I’m looking forward to getting our DEWALT Camry on track this weekend and working on getting a strong run in,” said Matt Kenseth.
“I expect it will be loose and that we’ll see a lot of slipping and sliding. With the way that the new segments are going to blend in, you don’t want to use up your tires too early in the race because you want to save a set, maybe even two sets, for the final 20 laps. You never know when yellow flags are going to come out and that changes the game. If you don’t have tires ready, then you’re going to be in a defensive position instead of offensive,” said Kurt Busch, 2017 Daytona 500 champion.
Teams will hit the track at 12:00 p.m. EST on Friday for the first practice session of the weekend. Teams will qualify at 5:30 p.m. On Saturday, the final practice for drivers will be at 12:00 p.m. EST on Saturday. The green flag will fall for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series shortly after 2:30 p.m. EST on Sunday. All practices will be on Fox Sports 1. Qualifying will also be on Fox Sports 1 and Performance Racing Network. The race will be on FOX and Performance Racing Network.
Atlanta Motor Speedway Announces Victory Lane On Track
HAMPTON, Ga.— Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) as announced that the Victory Lane celebration for the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 on March 5th will be moved to the fronstretch.
When the checkered flag waves, AMS will roll out a stage to the start-finish line to begin the celebration. Once the stage is set, all fans have the opportunity to walk down and join in the celebration.
Fans will be able to enter the racing surface through the entry gates along the catchfence.
To purchase tickets, call the AMS ticket office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visitwww.atlantamotorspeedway.com.
Fan Perspective of the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500
Atlanta Motor Speedway… What comes to mind when you hear those words? A race plagued by weather? Boring? SMI’s next demise? For me, I hear the words abrasive and tire management. That is what happened this weekend for the Folds of Honor Quick Trip 500. It was an exciting race that went 209 laps caution-free at the start. Drivers were on wheel, turning right to go left.
Ed Clark and his team at the Atlanta Motor Speedway did a better job this year marketing the event compared to last season. Clark and his team had more time to market the event to the Atlanta fan base, which struggles to support their own sports teams. The weather was something that plagued last year’s Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500. The “Chamber of Commerce Weather” for the race weekend was a factor for many of the fans in attendance for the weekend. Attendance for the event was better than the year’s prior. Fans loved the new ticket packages being offered by Atlanta.
I was able to attend the double-header on Saturday between the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series and Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race. All three races were filled with great unknown. The first ever use of the new caution clock for the Camping World Truck Series, and the new low-downforce package for the Sprint Cup Series were used for the first time at Atlanta.
On Saturday, fans were treated to the second edition of the NASCAR Double-Header at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The NASCAR Xfinity Series race was considered “boring” to the fans around me in the stands. Kyle Busch won for the first time at the Atlanta Motor Speedway ending the win streak of Kevin Harvick at the 1.54-mile track. Fans were treated to the battle of Kyle Larson trying to close the gap on Kyle Busch in the final laps. After the Heads Up Georgia 250, fans had roughly thirty minutes to reprogram their scanners, reapply sunscreen, and refuel on beverages and food.
The Great Clips 200 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway was a rather eventful race. Trucks that were dominate throughout the whole race crashed allowing John Hunter Nemechek to capture his second career Camping World Truck Series win. The caution clock expired twice during the race. Fans enjoyed the idea of the caution clock because without it Matt Crafton would have continued his dominance at Atlanta. Fans cheered when the caution clock expired for the first time on lap 28. At the beginning of the race, the time remaining on the caution clock was not available on Sprint Vision, but after about 10 minutes, fans could see how much time was remaining. The second caution clock provided for an “amazing restart”, according to some fans. Matt Crafton and Daniel Suarez were turned coming off of the second turn by Suarez’s teammate, Christopher Bell, red-flagging the race. Fans cheered when Crafton and Suarez were able to walk away, and booed when they saw that Christopher Bell caused the accident. When it looked like Bell was on his way to victory, he had a tire go down and he hit the wall coming off the fourth turn. The impact to the wall was loud enough where fans with scanners could hear the impact. Fans were excited when John-Hunter Nemechek held off Cameron Hayley to win.
Atlanta Motor Speedway does a good job of getting fans to renew their tickets for the next season. When a fan renewed their tickets for 2017, fans were able to receive a QuickTrip Gift Card, Spy Sunglasses, and a Brookstone tool. Fans who renewed are placed in the AMS Insider’s Club. This club allows for fans to have preferred parking in the front three rows of the unreserved lots of the speedway, a coupon book up to $40, and over 750 exclusive prizes. I was an AMS Insiders Club Member for this weekend. I was able to go into race control and the Performance Racing Network Booth as one of the prizes. Fans were able to see how a radio broadcast works from the booth perspective, and how race control is run during the event.
The Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 showed a great step in the right direction for the low-downforce package. Tire management was key in the race and drivers were forced to manage their tires with perfection. After about 35 laps, drivers were planning their stops to get four fresh Goodyear tires. Drivers were able to pass throughout the field, no matter where they were on the speedway. The leader was not able to run away with the lead in clean air. Drivers were able to battle for the lead, unlike other 1.5-mile events. NASCAR Overtime also played a role into the race. However, I had to explain to some fans about the new overtime line. The anti-climatic finish allowed for Jimmie Johnson to win. Fans were amazed that the drivers with dirt backgrounds struggled with the new package. Cars that were fast in practices throughout the weekend, struggled during the race.
Two Worlds Collide in Atlanta
For the first time ever, the Supercross and NASCAR world will collide in Atlanta, GA for their respective seasons. On Saturday, four drivers will compete in an intermission period during the Monster Energy Supercross event at the Georgia Dome.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr, Ty Dillon, Clint Bowyer, and Greg Biffle will compete in the Holeshot Challenge. Danica Patrick will hold the 30-second board before the start of the event, and Jimmie Johnson will drop the gate for the challenge. When the gate is dropped, drivers will race to the holeshot line towards the first turn and whoever crosses that line first will be crowned the winner. Three different brands of motorcycles will be used during the event. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., hosted by Ryan Dungey, will ride a KTM 250 SX-F. Clint Bowyer, hosted by Dunlop, will ride a Kawasaki KXF 250. Ty Dillon will ride a KTM 250 SX-F. Greg Biffle will ride a Honda CRF250F provided by Freewheeling Motorposts of Douglasville, GA.
"Many of NASCAR's best drivers grew up racing motocross and have a deep appreciation for Monster Energy Supercross and what these athletes do on a weekly basis," said Todd Jendro, Vice President Operations - Two Wheel, Feld Entertainment. "The holeshot is one of the most important and intense aspects of the race, and the Holeshot Challenge is designed to illustrate that element in a fun and entertaining way."
"This is an exciting and unique opportunity to return to my first passion in motorsports," said Bowyer. "My family traveled the country for many years chasing amateur national championships, and I've been a lifelong fan of Supercross. I actually went out and bought a bike to practice for this, and I hope some of those old reflexes come out to shine this Saturday night. It's going to be fun!"
Once the events of the day are done at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, many NASCAR drivers will make the 45-minute trek to Downtown Atlanta. On Sunday, many Monster Energy Supercross drivers will arrive at the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500. You can catch all the action from Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Georgia Dome all day long on Fox Sports 1.