Column By: SHANE CARLSON / RPW – HAMPTON, GA – Now that Daytona is over, the fanfare of the start of the season has subsided, and now it’s time for teams to lock in and get focused on what comprises the majority of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule; mile-and-a-half racetracks. Atlanta Motor Speedway is the first of 10 1.5-milers on the 2018 schedule, and it’s sure to be entertaining.
Atlanta was last repaved in 1997, and the track is showing its age. The track gets slick in a hurry, and chews tires up even faster. Drivers will fight handling all weekend long, especially toward the end of a run when the tires have lost their grip. Lap times will slow down drastically and drivers will have their hands full just trying to keep the truck off the fence.
Typically, Atlanta is a track where the upper hand goes to the veterans of the circuit. They know what adjustments to make to the truck in order to keep up with an ever-changing racetrack. There will be plenty of adjusting to go around, as the race starts in the late afternoon, and will finish at night under the lights. The track temperature will start out high, with the afternoon sun baking down, not to mention the rubber that will be laid down from the XFINITY Series race prior to the Truck Series race. The track will then go through a transition phase as the sun sets, and the shadowy track gets overtaken by the night. As a result, the track will cool off and the trucks will grip better.
My Pick to Win is…
No. 4 Cessna Toyota Tundra
Kyle Busch Motorsports
It’s hard to go against the chalk on this one. Busch’s numbers are just that good in Atlanta. In nine total Truck Series starts, he has four wins, and eight top-10s. He was near the top of the charts in practice on Friday, and don’t think the boss of Kyle Busch Motorsports wouldn’t love to put it to the young guns. He will be the one to beat Saturday evening.
Saturday, Feb. 24
4:30 PM ET
Active Pest Control 200 benefitting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
TV: FOX SPORTS 1
RADIO: Motor Racing Network
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Power Rankings
- Johnny Sauter: I mean, he just won at Daytona for the third time. The 2016 Truck Series champ is off to the best start a team could ask for, and has punched their ticket to the playoffs. Atlanta is not a particularly great track for the Wisconsin native, but he’s playing with house money from here on out.
- Justin Haley: An impressive showing from the young driver joining the stable of GMS Racing Chevrolets. A runner-up finish is something Haley was certainly pleased with, but he thinks his team can contend for wins. Why not? GMS is one of the strongest teams in the Truck Series, so he’s definitely in the right equipment to do just that.
- Ben Rhodes: Taking advantage of the free pass following the second caution, Rhodes recovered and worked his way up to a fourth-place finish in ThorSport Racing’s first race running Ford F-150s. Rhodes will take the momentum into Atlanta, where he has scored two top-10s in two career Truck Series starts.
- Dalton Sargeant: The highest-finishing rookie came home eighth on Friday night, yet another driver from the GMS Racing camp. The future is burning bright within this organization.
- Spencer Davis: That other driver from Dawsonville, Georgia, and he earns a top-10 at Daytona in his first-career Truck Series start. Not bad, not bad at all. Bossman Kyle Busch should be pleased.