This weekend’s NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race marks the first event at which drivers can potentially claim the $100,000 bounty on Kyle Busch set by Kevin Harvick and Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis.
For those who need a refresher: the bounty applies to full-time NASCAR Cup Series drivers racing in the upcoming Truck Series events in which Busch is racing in his self-owned No. 51. The four races include this weekend’s Atlanta Motor Speedway contest, next week’s Homestead-Miami Speedway race and the events later this year at Texas Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway.
If a Cup driver is able to beat Busch and win one of the races, they claim the $100,000 prize, half coming from Harvick and half from Lemonis. Its existence came to be after Busch won the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Truck Series race last month in dominating fashion.
Some of the eligible drivers announced their entries in manners that attracted media attention, while others are a bit more under the radar — but, it seems, eligible nonetheless.
Over the next few weeks, here’s who you can expect to try to claim the prize.
Chase Elliott is perhaps the most high profile of the bunch and was certainly the first to rise to the challenge. It’ll be a homecoming of sorts for Elliott at both Atlanta and Kansas, where he’s currently tapped to compete; not only will he drive for GMS Racing, for whom he’s occasionally competed in various series over the years, but he’ll also do so in the No. 24, his number in the Cup Series before swapping to the No. 9.
Like Elliott, Kyle Larson‘s pursuing Busch thanks to GMS, who’ll also field the No. 24 for him. This is also an arrangement that has a history, as Larson last competed in the Truck Series when he drove GMS’ No. 24 in three races in 2016, scoring the win at Eldora Speedway. At the moment, he’s entered at Homestead only.
In one of the more out-of-left-field entries, Erik Jones will drive at Homestead. But it’s not Jones himself who’s the surprise; rather, it’s the folks behind the scenes making things happen, as former NASCAR owners Billy Ballew and James Finch are teaming up with Richie Wauters, whose Truck Series team has retained its equipment over the years despite not racing since 2017, to field Jones’ truck. No idea on the number yet, but if it’s anything like Wauters’ old rides, it’ll be the No. 5.
John Hunter Nemechek
Bear in mind that John Hunter Nemechek is a full-time Cup competitor as of this year, currently in the midst of his rookie season with Front Row Motorsports. And it just so happens that his family-owned team, Nemco Motorsports, still exists on a part-time basis, clearing the way for Nemechek to drive the No. 8 this weekend at Atlanta. Sure, Elliott, Larson and Jones might get the lion’s share of attention, but remember that Nemechek won at Atlanta with Nemco in 2016. There are rumblings that he’s got sponsorship to contest some of the other bounty races, too.
Like Nemechek, Brennan Poole is a Cup rookie who occasionally moonlights in the Truck Series these days, in his case for On Point Motorsports. Poole’s in the running this weekend at Atlanta in the team’s second truck, the No. 29, and he’s also announced for Homestead, Texas and Kansas in the No. 30, making him currently the only driver who will face Busch each time out. While On Point isn’t exactly a household name in the series just yet, it’s worth noting that Poole finished second with the team last year at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a track similar to many of the circuits part of the bounty.
JJ Yeley is running the full Cup schedule for Rick Ware Racing, which makes his Truck start this weekend for Reaume Brothers Racing’s No. 33 eligible for the bounty. He’s probably the least likely of the bunch to collect, though, driving for one of the smaller teams in the series. But hey, a shot’s a shot.
-This is more of a possibility by technicality. Timmy Hill‘s driving his self-owned No. 56 at Atlanta, perhaps elsewhere. He hasn’t declared for Cup points, but he’s been in every Cup race thus far this year with MBM Motorsports, which plans to compete in the entire schedule. Does he count, or is it only open to full-time Cup drivers who’ve declared for series points? I’m guessing the latter.
-Early in the going, Clint Bowyer tweeted about being interested, with Barstool Sports helping foot the bill. Henderson Motorsports, which has not yet appeared this season with its No. 75, responded that it had a truck available to do so. However, neither appears on the Atlanta entry list, and nothing has been announced about a prospective partnership since.