Thursday, March 12, 2020

PREVIEW: Bounty hunters headline triple-header weekend in Atlanta

UPDATE (March 13) - Due to the national response to COVID-19, this weekend's activities for Atlanta have been postponed, along with next week's action in Homestead. This article covers what would have been the stories for this weekend's races prior to the postponements.

Saturday, March 14, 2020 (1:30 P.M. Eastern)
TRUCKS Race 3 of 23
Vet Tix Camping World 200 at Atlanta
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Joe Nemechek

There are 38 drivers entered for 32 spots, meaning six teams will fail to qualify. This is also the first $100,000 “Bounty Race,” and three drivers are eligible to claim it: Chase Elliott, Brennan Poole, and John Hunter Nemechek. Fellow Cup drivers J.J. Yeley and Timmy Hill are also entered, but are ineligible for the bonus as neither receive Cup Series points this season.

RETURNING: #8-NEMCO Motorsports
John Hunter Nemechek looks to give his family’s team its first start of the 2020 season after both he and father Joe Nemechek failed to qualify at Daytona, then didn’t attempt the race in Las Vegas. The Atlanta track has also been challenging to the team, as the #8 finished last in the 2019 running. But with no finishes worse than 25th in the Cup Series this season, completing all but one lap, he could be one to watch if he qualifies.

MISSING: #9-CR7 Motorsports
Codie Rohrbaugh seemed to indicate at Daytona that he’d attempt the full schedule in 2020, however his CR7 team is not entered this week, the first race they’ll miss this season. Rohrbaugh had been sitting 10th in the point standings with finishes of 3rd and 18th to start the year, and had completed all the laps in both races.

RETURNING: #12-Young’s Motorsports
Randy Young brings back his third team, formerly driven by Gus Dean last year, and hires T.J. Bell to drive. No sponsor is yet listed for Bell, whose most recent Truck Series start was last summer at Michigan, where he ran 29th in an unsponsored Al Niece truck.

NEW TEAM: #29-On Point Motorsports
DRIVER CHANGE: #30-On Point Motorsports
Joining John Hunter Nemechek in his bid for the bounty is fellow Cup rookie Brennan Poole, who finished runner-up to Kyle Busch at Charlotte last May. Then as now, Poole drives for On Point Motorsports, but this time drives a new second truck for the team, the #29. His previous two starts this year came in the primary #30, which this week goes to a returning Danny Bohn. Bohn ran the final three races in 2019 following a sterling 8th-place run in Martinsville. Both trucks are sponsored by

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
J.J. Yeley reunites with Josh Reaume’s team for the first time since last summer at Bristol, where he finished 31st. This time, he takes Reaume’s own place in the team’s flagship #33.

DRIVER CHANGE: #40-Niece Motorsports
Atlanta sees Ryan Truex return to the Truck Series for the first time since 2017, kicking off his partial schedule with Al Niece. Plan B Sales sponsors Truex this week as he climbs aboard the #40 driven previously by Ross Chastain. Truex has two Truck Series starts at Atlanta, finishing 20th in 2016 and 13th in 2017, both for Hattori Racing Enterprises.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Niece Motorsports
Joining Truex in his own return to the series is Jeb Burton, who takes Natalie Decker’s place in the #44 Chevrolet. Burton brings sponsorship from State Water Heaters and Alsco, who backed both of his 9th-place runs with this team last year at Kentucky and Martinsville. It is also Burton’s first start of the season since the XFINITY race at Daytona, where he was wrecked while battling for the lead.

MISSING: #49-CMI Motorsports
Ray Ciccarelli tweeted he is moving his team into a new shop, and showed both his #49 Chevrolets staged in the building. This may explain why the #49 is not entered this week, which Bayley Currey ran in Las Vegas. The team will still race this week, keeping Stefan Parsons in the #83 that ran so well in its debut in Las Vegas before mechanical issues knocked him out of the running.

RETURNING: #68-Clay Greenfield Motorsports
Back in action this week is owner-driver Clay Greenfield, whose Rackley Roofing #68 is decorated with the Tennessee state flag in honor of the victims of the recent tornadoes that tore through the Nashville region. Crew chief Jeff Hammond still eyes his first start of the season after the #68 missed the cut in their previous attempt at Daytona.

CUP INVADERS: #8-John Hunter Nemechek, #24-Chase Elliott, #29-Brennan Poole, #33-J.J. Yeley, #51-Kyle Busch

Saturday, March 14, 2020 (4:00 P.M. Eastern)
XFINITY Race 5 of 33
Echo Park 250 at Atlanta
2019 Last-Place Finisher: John Jackson

There are exactly 36 drivers entered for as many spots, meaning all entrants will qualify.

MISSING: #12-Penske Racing
MISSING: #54-Joe Gibbs Racing
Both Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch – as well as their part-time teams - are not entered in this Saturday’s race after the duo finished 4th and 3rd, respectively, in Phoenix.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
Jeffrey Earnhardt seeks his first XFINITY Seires start since last summer at Chicagoland, where he ran 16th in his latest start for XCI Racing. This time, Earnhardt reunites with Johnny Davis, who he last drove for in the 2014 finale at Homestead. He drives the team’s #15, taking the place of Colby Howard, who ran 34th in his series debut at Phoenix after a crash.

MISSING: #36-DGM Racing
Mario Gosselin’s team scales back from three cars to two this week, eliminating the #36 driven last week by Alex Labbe, who ran 22nd in Phoenix. Labbe himself moves to the #90, taking the place of Dillon Bassett, 18th after his scuffle with Brandon Brown. Larue Snowblowers sponsors the Labbe effort.

Jeff Green turned in his strongest non-superspeedway finish in years last Saturday, taking home 15th in the #93 Chevrolet. This week, the ride goes back to newcomer C.J. McLaughlin, who finished 27th in his only other start this year at Daytona.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Last week at Phoenix saw Mason Massey swapped out of the #99 at the last minute for J.J. Yeley, who then failed to qualify. This week, Massey is entered in the car once more with sponsorship from Generac and Anderson Power Services.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #02-Our Motorsports
Brett Moffitt carried sponsorship from at Fontana, and this week will be sponsored by them again. This time, the car has been re-wrapped to look similar to Michael McDowell's matching #34 car in the Cup Series.


Sunday, March 15, 2020
CUP Race 5 of 36
Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta
2019 Last-Place Finisher: Michael McDowell

There are 38 drivers entered for 40 spots, meaning all entrants will qualify. It is the fourth consecutive short field after 40 cars took the green in Daytona. There are also no driver or team changes from last week’s race – the same 38 drivers are entered in the same cars.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #12-Penske Racing
SPONSOR UPDATE: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
Among the new paint schemes debuting this Sunday are two sponsors with their first start of 2020. Advance Auto Parts’ part-time schedule with Ryan Blaney starts this week as the driver looks to bounce back from his 37th-place showing in Phoenix. Daniel Suarez will carry sponsorship from Coca-Cola to promote the company's new Cherry Vanilla flavor.

Today in LASTCAR History (March 12, 2000): Jeff Burton picked up the 4th last-place finish of his Cup Series career when his #99 Exide Batteries Ford was involved in a crash after 68 laps of the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500. This was the same running of Atlanta’s 500-miler that saw Dale Earnhardt edge Bobby Labonte for the victory.


Unknown said...

You forgot to add Kyle Busch as a 'cup invader' for the truck series

MarshallDog said...

The "bounty" only applies to Cup invaders? So if an underfunded truck team goes out and beats Kyle Busch they get nothing. That's really lame.

Kuku h said...

BREAKING NEWS: No fans will be at Atlanta and Miami due to the virus.

Kuku h said...

And now no race at all, both this weekend's and next week's race postponed.