The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be bringing their high energy brand of tailgate party to the Atlanta Motor Speedway for Friday night's running of the Good Sam Club 200. The truck series will join their Nationwide and Sprint Cup counterparts for the massive NASCAR weekend at Atlanta. Don't be too surprised if the truck brigade turns out to be the class act of the entire weekend. It certainly wouldn't be the first time that happened.
"Over the years the truck series at Atlanta has displayed a tendency to create some very close finishes. "
THE STORY BREAKDOWN
During the SPEED Channel coverage of the NASCAR Camping Word Truck Series event at Atlanta, you will hear a lot of speculation regarding Kevin Harvick Inc and their future in the truck series. The speculation says they may be severely limiting, if not even completing shutting down, the truck side of their operation and, yes, that could mean four time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr could be looking for a ride next year. Remember this is only speculation and nothing is official until we hear a formal announcement from Kevin and DeLana Harvick which could be coming next week. As far as the Atlanta race goes KHI will field three trucks with Sprint Cup driver Clint Bowyer in their number 2 truck. Nelson Piquet Jr will be in his #8 with Hornaday in his traditional #33 business as usual.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be bringing a very tight points battle to Atlanta featuring a series veteran and two young hopefuls who seeking NASCAR gold at the end of the season. Thorsport Racing veteran Johnny Sauter leads the current standings with 61 points. However, that lead is only seven markers ahead of Turner Motorsports' James Buescher. The presence of this young driver in the championship profile is especially impressive because he missed the series' race at Phoenix and had to work hard all season to eradicate that deficit. Third in the standings is Red Horse Racing's Timothy Peters who is only 15 points out of first.
There are four previous Atlanta winners entered in Friday night's race: Todd Bodine, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman and Ron Hornaday Jr. From this group, only Busch is a multiple Atlanta winner having won there four times with the last trip to victory lane dating back to 2009.
Over the years the truck series at Atlanta has displayed a tendency to create some very close finishes. Nine of the last 11 events has featured margin of victories of 0.971 seconds or less. The closest ever Atlanta truck finish came in March of 2005 when Ron Hornaday Jr led Bobby Labonte under the checkers with a margin of 0.008 seconds. It remains as the fifth closest decision in series history.
Sprint Cup Chase contender Ryan Newman will be making a guest appearance in Friday night's truck behind the wheel of the #08 Realtree/Brandt Chevrolet for Turner Motorsports. This race entry is a celebration of life in honor of Beau Slocumb, an employee of Turner Motorsports and former driver, who tragically passed away due to cancer at the age of 26. Newman first met Slocumb while on a fishing trip at his house. The pair quickly became lifelong friends. Slocumb's passion, beyond racing, was hunting and fishing. Turner Motorsports and Realtree had the Chevrolet truck wrapped with a camouflage design in his honor and stenciled his name above the passenger window. In recent days it was announced by the team that any purse money won from the Atlanta race will be donated to Mrs Slocumb.
Driver Johanna Long will be making her truck series debut at Atlanta Friday night. Her #20 Panhandle Motorsports Toyota will be "Paw Paw Powered." That phrase will be turned into a decal and placed on her truck in honor of her "Paw Paw",(Grandfather). Explaining the special tribute, Long said "I'm racing in honor of my Paw Paw this weekend. He's been battling liver disease for awhile and is still staying strong, so I want this race to be for him. He's the one who has given me the opportunity to do what I love from the beginning of my career, and he has been my biggest supporter. Every lap I take around the Atlanta Motor Speedway will be for him."
THE RACE BREAKDOWN
The Good Sam Club 200 is 130 laps/200.2 miles around the Atlanta Motor Speedway's massive 1.54 mile quad oval.
The race has 37 entries vying for the 36 starting berths. Ten of those entries are on the go or go home list meaning they are not guaranteed a start in the race because they are currently outside of the series' top 25 in owner's points. These teams will have to rely on qualifying speed to make the race.