No Beating Around the Busch: Cup Star’s Return to Ncts Race Leads ‘Fast Five’ Storylines’ for Support Series at Autotrader Echopark Automotive 400

Texas Motor Speedway will open its season in grand fashion with all three of NASCAR’s national series arriving for this weekend’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Xfinity Series Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 and CRAFTSMAN Truck Series 250 will serve as the support series events leading up to the marquee Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 on Sunday (2:30 p.m. CT, TV: FS1, Radio: PRN, SiriusXM Radio, Lone Star 92.5 FM locally).

The 250 will be the first of three races Friday evening (7:30 p.m. CT, TV: FS1, Radio: MRN, SiriusXM), and be followed by the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 on Saturday (12:30 p.m., TV: FS1, Radio: PRN, SiriusXM).

The 250 will be seventh race of the 23-event NCTS season and the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 will be the eighth of the 33-race NXS season. Several storylines have transpired since the two series kicked off the season in February at Daytona International Speedway.

Here’s the “Fast Five” storylines to watch during the 250 and Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 events:

1) Kyle Busch will be making his first CRAFTSMAN Truck Series appearance at Texas Motor Speedway since 2020 and that may not bode well for the rest of the field in Friday night’s 250.

Busch, who will be driving the No. 7 Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports, has won at Texas in his last three appearances (2020, ’19, ’14) and has been a dominant force on the 1.5-mile oval throughout his career. He owns five career victories – one shy of the track record held by Todd Bodine – and has finished among the top five in 10 of 14 starts. Despite the limited number of starts, he ranks second for career laps led with 525 to Ron Hornaday Jr.’s track record of 685.

If those numbers appear to be ancient history, think again since he has been strong this season competing for Spire Motorsports. In three starts, he collected his 65th NCTS win at Atlanta and added a runner-up performance at Bristol.

2) Defending Xfinity Series champion Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing has developed quite an affinity for Texas Motor Speedway heading into Saturday’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 300.

He has top-10 finishes in six of his seven career starts, including four among the top five. His consistency was punctuated by a victory in the fall race in 2018. Custer’s only blemish came in the 2019 spring race when he finished 34th due to an accident.

Custer, however, has been perfect in qualifying with top-10 starting positions in all seven appearances, including a best of second in the fall race of 2017.

Last season, he qualified third and finished sixth. This race may be no better time to put a cherry on top of his success as Custer’s primary car sponsor will be Andy’s Frozen Custard for his No. 00 Ford.

3) Four Xfinity Series drivers – Chandler Smith, Sheldon Creed, Justin Allgaier and Sam Mayer – will be chasing a $100,000 bonus if they can win the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300.

The Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash is back for its 16th season and Texas Motor Speedway is the second of four races with bonus money on the line. The Dash 4 Cash began with a March 30 qualifying race at Richmond, where eligible fulltime drivers in the top-four finishing positions of that race would have the opportunity to win the loot this past Saturday at Martinsville.

Aric Almirola of Joe Gibbs Racing emerged from that initial group to win the bonus, but will not be competing in the Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 for a chance at another big payday. The top four from Martinsville minus Almirola will create a Texas showdown for the 100k between Joe Gibbs Racing and JR Motorsports. Smith and Creed will be representing JGR while Allgaier and Mayer drive for JR Motorsports.

None of the four have previously won at Texas in the Xfinity Series. Allgaier has a best finish of second in 2021 and has finished among the top five in four of his last five visits. He also won the pole last season. His teammate Mayer has a best finish of third (2022) in four career starts. Smith has a fourth-place finish in his only TMS start last season while Creed has a best of seventh (2022) in three starts. Creed does own a CRAFTSMAN Truck Series win at Texas in 2020.

The Dash 4 Cash continues with the top-four eligible finishers from Texas competing for the bonus next week at Talladega. The bonus format concludes April 27 at Dover.

4) Xfinity Series championship contender Austin Hill of Richard Childress Racing also will be making his Cup Series season debut for the organization at Texas Motor Speedway.

Hill, who has two wins and currently sits third in the Xfinity Series points standings, will perform double duty by driving the No. 21 Chevrolet in Saturday’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 and then the No. 33 Chevy in Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400. Texas will be the first of four Cup Series races that Hill will compete for RCR in that third entry.

Hill has made seven previous Cup Series starts, with his first coming with RCR in 2022 at Michigan where he finished 18th. He ran six races for Beard Motorsports last season with a career-best finish of 14th in the second race at Daytona.

5) CRAFTSMAN Truck Series driver Christian Eckes of McAnally-Hilgemann Racing arrives at Texas Motor Speedway for Friday night’s 250 on a roll.

Eckes has won two of the last three races, including last week at Martinsville, and owns a streak of four consecutive races of finishing eighth or better. That run includes his win at Bristol.

Through six races, he is halfway to his single-season high of four wins that came last year and is fourth in the NCTS points standings. He trails leader Ty Majeski of ThorSport Racing by 11 points.

Eckes only has made four career NCTS starts at Texas Motor Speedway, but has taken a liking to the 1.5-mile oval. He has a pair of runner-up finishes (2020, ’22), led a combined 94 laps and started among the top 10 in every race. Last season, he started sixth and finished 15th.

Tickets are on sale now for the 2024 Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 NASCAR tripleheader weekend April 12-14. The race weekend begins April 12 with the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series 250 (7:30 p.m. CT on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90), continues with the April 13 NASCAR Xfinity Series Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 (12:30 p.m. CT on FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90) and concludes with the April 14 NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 (2:30 p.m. CT on FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90 and Lone Star 92.5 – local).

Tickets are on sale now at

The balance of Texas Motor Speedway’s 2024 major event season includes the High Limit Sprint Car Series (April 13), Fuel Fest (April 20), the Goodguys Rod & Custom/American Flat Track/Pate Swap Meet tripleheader weekend (April 25-28), C-10 Nationals (May 10-12), LS Fest (May 18), Bandas y Trocas (May 25), Solar Car Challenge (July 11-17), SuperMotocross World Championship Playoff 2 (Sept. 14), Goodguys Rod & Custom (Sept. 27-29), American Sprint Car Series (Oct. 4-5), the High Limit Sprint Car Series inaugural season finale (Oct. 11-12) and the Gordy’s Hwy 30 Fest Texas (Oct. 17-20).