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Truck Series: What You Need to Watch This Weekend

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

This weekend, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rolls into Atlanta Motor Speedway for the 2nd race of the season. It’s the series’ only trip to Atlanta on the schedule, and Atlanta is one of the most unique race tracks on the schedule. With a chaotic weekend at Daytona in the rear-view mirror, what can we watch for this weekend at Atlanta?

  • Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of the most historic race tracks on the NASCAR schedule. Opened in 1960, the Truck Series’ first race at the track was in 2004. Trucks have competed at Atlanta every year since with the exceptions of 2013 and 2014.
  • Atlanta is one of the more unique venues in NASCAR. While the track is 1.5 miles long, the 28 degrees of banking means the track races similar to a superspeedway. The track was reconfigured to its current form in 2022.
  • The Truck Series race at Atlanta will start at 2 PM ET on Saturday on FS1. Qualifying will be on Friday at 3 PM ET on FS1.

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The Favorites

Nick Sanchez is riding high after his first career win at Daytona one week ago, and he has another superspeedway to navigate this weekend. He finished 2nd at Atlanta one year ago, and he led the most laps at Daytona last week. His win was hardly a fluke, and he has a chance to go back-to-back this weekend.

Spire Motorsports impressed in general at Daytona with every driver leading at least one lap in their first race as a full-time team. Since Atlanta is another superspeedway-style race track, look out for the trio of Spire trucks (Rajah Caruth, Chase Purdy, and Kyle Busch) this weekend.

TRICON Garage led the most laps at Atlanta one year ago with John Hunter Nemechek (53). Watch for Corey Heim this weekend as he tries to avenge his second-place finish from 2023.

A good dark horse pick could be Bayley Currey, who finished 4th at Atlanta in 2023 after starting a dismal 30th. Niece Motorsports showed speed at Daytona with Johnny Sauter leading 24 laps, even if Currey finished a pedestrian 13th.

Who Needs a Boost After Last Week

Ty Dillon had a disappointing start in his Truck Series return after getting wrecked out on lap 5, but, Atlanta has a special place in his racing career. Atlanta is where Dillon got his first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win on Labor Day weekend of 2012. Obviously, Atlanta has been reconfigured since, but, Dillon has some optimism for this weekend.

Ben Rhodes, the defending Series Champion, was done in by an unscheduled pit stop and an accident right afterward at Daytona. He finished 5th at Atlanta one year ago, so, he knows he can race towards the front. He also led 5 laps at Daytona, so, his bad finish was not from a lack of speed.

Ty Majeski won the pole at Daytona, and he led 6 laps early. However, he was a non-factor the rest of the race, finishing a disappointing 15th. Atlanta has not been his best race track as he finished 11th in 2023, leading 0 laps.

Tyler Ankrum could also use a jolt after a disappointing 11th-place finish where he led 16 laps. The speed was there, but he was not prevalent at the end of the race. Atlanta was not kind to him in 2023, as he finished 26th, one lap down.

Rookie Watch

The Truck Series race at Daytona was disappointing for the series rookies. However, there is reason for optimism for both full-time rookies in the field this weekend.

Thad Moffitt was caught up in the lap 5 crash after an impressive 10th-place qualifying run. As if his qualifying speed is not enough reason for optimism, Moffitt actually has Truck Series experience at Atlanta. He finished 32nd in 2022 at the track for Reaume Brothers Racing, which, while not a great result, shows that he has more experience there than most other tracks on the circuit.

Layne Riggs suffered a similar fate at Daytona, as he was done after 13 laps. Like Moffitt, Riggs has experience at Atlanta, as he raced there for TRICON Garage in 2023. That combined with Front Row Motorsports past prowess on superspeedways with drivers like Zane Smith and Brett Moffitt show that Riggs could be a threat this weekend.

Both drivers may surprise some people this weekend.

Last Year’s Winner

Christian Eckes took home the win at Atlanta in 2023. He finished in the top-10 at Daytona last weekend, so, he should be up in the thick of things at Atlanta this weekend.

2023 was Eckes’ breakout season with 4 wins, so, the pressure is on to match or beat the mark this season. This just might be the race to do it, but, McAnally-Hilgemann Racing as a team struggled at Daytona.

Eckes was the only team car in the top 10, while Jack Wood finished 18th and Daniel Dye in 21st. At Atlanta in 2023, Jake Garcia finished 18th in the second McAnally-Hilgemann car as Eckes took home the win.

If that performance does not improve, Eckes may not have much teammate help this weekend.

Cup Series Driver Watch

Kyle Busch will make his first Truck Series start of the season for Spire Motorsports in their #7 Truck. It’s a part of a 5 race deal Busch has with the team.

The all-time winningest driver across all 3 NASCAR National Touring Series, Busch looks for Truck Series win no. 65 this weekend. He’s won 6 times in his career at Atlanta in the Truck Series, but never on the new configuration.

However, he has never competed at Atlanta in the Truck Series since the reconfiguration. He has also not competed on a drafting-style superspeedway in the series in a decade.

Given his history in the series, Busch should be a factor this weekend, but, this is unfamiliar territory for him. He will be one to watch on Saturday afternoon.

Which driver are you watching out for in the Truck Series this weekend?

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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