NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Preview – Atlanta

The NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series continues their schedule momentum this weekend by hearing north of Daytona and just right off of I-85 south to Atlanta Motor Speedway for a Saturday afternoon doubleheader with the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

There are many storylines to watch this weekend at Atlanta, where the trucks will be making their 18th appearance at the 1.5-mile speedway since they began hosting Truck Series races in 2004.

Currently, there are 34 trucks on the preliminary entry list for 32 spots for Saturday’s race.

Here’s a look at who to watch for this weekend during Saturday’s race.

  1. Kyle Busch – Busch will be making his first Truck Series start since his win at Pocono last year, tying Ron Hornaday’s all-time wins record. He’ll be looking to break that record this year and Busch will more than likely do it. He has won pretty much everywhere on the schedule. Last season, Busch averaged a 2.6 start with a 5.4 average finish in the series total. He also had two wins in 2018, but Busch finished second at Kansas and Charlotte, where he could have broken Hornaday’s record. He has four wins out of 10 starts at Atlanta, his first win coming in 2005 and winning three in a row until 2008. Busch’s last victory came in 2009, 10 years ago. He has completed 99.7 percent of the laps with 387 laps led, earning seven top fives and eight top 10 finishes, with an average start of 3.0 and an average finish of 6.6. Recently, however, Busch has not found his winning ways as he had in the past. Last year, a tire fell off the truck after a late-race pit stop, relegating him to a 21st place finish after starting on the pole. In 2017, he finished 26th. He’ll look to get back to his winning ways in Saturday.
  2. Ben Rhodes – After wrecking out of the lead last week at Daytona, Rhodes looks to get back in victory lane this weekend since his win at Kentucky last year. He has a good shot, as Rhodes has two top fives and three top 10 finishes. Rhodes has three starts at Atlanta since 2016, all finishing in the top 10. He has a driver rating of 99.9 and 30 quality passes with 42 green flag passes in 2018.
  3. Brett Moffitt – Moffitt will look to recapture that Atlanta magic as he did a year ago, which propelled him to winning the championship. He is the defending race winner after leading just two laps. Moffitt finished fourth and third in both stages last year.
  4. Todd Gilliland – Gilliland will be making his first truck start this weekend at Atlanta, but will have an experienced crew chief on top of the box, Marcus Richmond. Richmond has one win back in 2012 with Ty Dillon. The truck Gilliland will be using races at Pocono, Chicago, and Texas. Busch also used this chassis last year at Kansas, where he finished second. Gilliland will have practice time, an experienced crew chief and an veteran owner to rely on throughout the weekend. It’s hard to imagine counting Gilliland out of winning.
  5. Matt Crafton – Crafton is looking to snap that long winless streak this weekend and Atlanta could be the place to do it. He has the most starts out of all active drivers with 17, won in 2015, has one DNF, six top fives and 10 top 10 finishes, along with an average start of 13.0 and an average finish of 11.6. In the past five races, Crafton has finished fifth, second, 30th, first, and ninth. Crafton also has 180 laps led. Look for Crafton to be back in victory lane this weekend on Saturday.

Who To Keep An Eye On:

  1. Parker Kligerman – Kligerman is making his first Truck Series start of 2019 this year at Atlanta with Henderson Motorsports. The team has surprised the field a few times, especially winning at Talladega a couple of years ago. At Atlanta, he has five starts, one top five and two top 10 finishes with a best finish of fourth in 2012. The No. 75 team finished 11th and 31st the past two times.
  2. Johnny Sauter – Sauter will be looking for his first Atlanta win this weekend and it’s hard to believe he does not have a win at the track yet. He has two top fives and four top 10s with a best finish of third twice.

Anthony Alfredo will be making his truck debut for DGR-CROSLEY and Jesse Little returns with his family owned team.

There have been 17 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway since their first event in 2004 with 13 different winners. Ron Hornaday is the only series regular to win multiple times with two victories while Kyle Busch has won four times at Atlanta.

The lowest a race winner has come from was 18th set by Ron Hornaday in 2005 and John Hunter Nemechek in 2016.

A winner has came from the pole in 2006 by Todd Bodine, Mike Skinner in 2007, Kyle Busch in 2009, Ty Dillon in 2012 and Christopher Bell in 2017.

There has been five different winners in the past five races.

The Truck Series get on track Friday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. ET on nascar.com/live and final practice at 4:05 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

Qualifying will take place Saturday morning at 10:40 a.m. ET live on Fox Sports 1.

The Ultimate Tailgating 200 is scheduled for Saturday afternoon following the Xfinity Series race live on Fox Sports 1 and MRN Radio at 4:30 p.m. ET. Stages are broken down into 40/80/130, all weather permitting.

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