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Tracking the Trucks: Kyle Busch Scores 60th Truck Win in Atlanta

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In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch dominated, leading 102 of 130 laps en route to his sixth Camping World Truck Series victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway Saturday afternoon (March 20).

“It’s just a great opportunity to race in great stuff with KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports), Cessna Beechcraft. This Toyota Tundra was awesome,” Busch said. “I can’t say enough about my guys, everybody at Kyle Busch Motorsports. They do such a great job with a lot of hard work. Without their preparation and dedication, we wouldn’t be as successful as we’ve been as an organization.

“It’s great to get back to victory lane. It’s cool to get back to victory lane in Billy Ballew’s (former NCWTS team owner) backyard here in Atlanta. We carried the Billy Ballew Motorsports decal today. If you need a deal on a sweet used car, go see him in Dawsonville. All of the Chase Elliott fans want to go there, but tell them that I sent ya.”

The incident-free race saw the caution fly just twice for stage breaks before the checkered flag flew. Austin Hill finished second, followed by John Hunter Nemechek. Johnny Sauter and Sheldon Creed rounded out the top five.

RECAP: Kyle Busch Dominates, Wins Truck Race at Atlanta

The Win That Could’ve Been

While Busch clearly had the dominant truck, John Hunter Nemechek started out looking like he might repeat his Las Vegas win. He took the stage one and two wins but when stage three went green to the checkered flag, the driver of the No. 4 Toyota lost some time to Busch during green flag pit stops. He went on to finish third.

“I felt like we were strong in stage one and stage two. I felt like we could hang with Kyle (Busch), and then we got around in him in lap traffic at the end of the stages,” Nemechek explained. “Solid points day overall for our Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra. I can’t thank everyone at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) enough and all of our partners for supporting this deal. Overall, I’m happy with the day, but I’m disappointed.

“I was hoping to beat Kyle today, but I didn’t have anything for him there at the end. I’ve got to go study some green flag pit stop stuff and get better there. It’s always a work in progress. We will be back next week at Bristol dirt and hopefully go get us a win there.”

Race Notes:

Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis continued his sponsorship of multiple trucks in Atlanta, this time using the Overton’s colors. In all, 10 drivers sported Overton’s on their trucks: Jordan Anderson, Dawson Cram, Sheldon Creed, Ryan Ellis, Carson Hocevar, Parker Kligerman, Brett Moffitt, Codie Rohrbaugh, Zane Smith and Ryan Truex. GMS Racing teammates Creed and Smith finished fifth and sixth, while Niece Motorsports’ Moffitt was the third truck inside the top 10 in ninth.

Along with the Overton’s wrap on his No. 3 Chevrolet, Anderson utilized his truck to recognize Women’s History Month. Anderson used the space on his truck to write the names of women and women-owned businesses that were nominated on Twitter to “honor and celebrate.”

Typically, a ninth-place finish isn’t something to be celebrated, but for Moffitt and the No. 45 team, it should be. When the truck was started to ensure it was race ready, it suffered an engine failure, forcing the crew to change the motor within about an hour prior to the race. Moffitt was forced to drop to the rear of the field for the start. He was inside the top 10 by the end of stage two and remained there when the checkered flag flew. The ninth-place finish marks Moffitt’s first top 10 of the year.

After a fourth-place finish last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Stewart Friesen had plenty of speed and ran inside the top 10 for much of the first half of the race, finishing fourth and third in the first two stages. But an uncontrolled tire penalty under the stage two break dropped him to the rear of the field where he was forced to race his way to the front. He ultimately ended up 10th, a result that’s hardly indicative of the speed he had.

Though he didn’t get the victory he’d hoped to grab after losing a dominant Atlanta showing last year on a late-race restart, Austin Hill finished second, marking back-to-back top-five finishes. After results of 22nd and 33rd at Daytona International Speedway and the Daytona road course, respectively, Hill has posted finishes of third and second, propelling him from 23rd to sixth in the point standings.

Nearly 14 years after his most recent Truck Series start, Bill Lester quietly made his return at Atlanta. Piloting the No. 17 David Gilliland Racing Ford, he started 31st and remained toward the back of the pack throughout the race, likely a product of zero track time prior to the green flag. By the time the checkered flag flew, Lester was 36th, seven laps behind the leaders. Interestingly enough, his return to racing came 15 years to the date since after his NASCAR Cup Series debut, which also came at Atlanta.

Rookie Kris Wright was forced to sit out of Atlanta after a positive COVID-19 test. In his place, Josh Berry piloted the No. 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet to a 22nd-place finish after starting at the rear of the field due to the driver change.

2021 Rookie Report

No. 1 – Hailie Deegan
No. 02 – Kris Wright
No. 18 – Chandler Smith
No. 23 – Chase Purdy
No. 42 – Carson Hocevar

No. of rookies in the race: 4
No. of rookies in the top 10: 0

Rookie of the Race: Carson Hocevar, finished 12th

Point Report: John Hunter Nemechek remains atop the standings by a 47-point margin over Ben Rhodes. Sheldon Creed sits third, followed by Matt Crafton. Stewart Friesen, who gained one spot, rounds out the top five, 82 markers behind Nemechek.

Austin Hill jumped six positions to sixth and is followed by Johnny Sauter, who moved up two spots. Zane Smith gained six positions on the strength of back-to-back top-10 finishes and sits eighth. Grant Enfinger dropped two spots to ninth and rookie Carson Hocevar rounds out the top 10.

Series regular winners: Ben Rhodes (Daytona, Daytona road course); John Hunter Nemechek (Las Vegas)

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Up Next: The Truck Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Pinty’s Dirt Truck Race next Saturday night. A pair of practice sessions on Friday (March 26) will run ahead of four qualifying races Saturday (March 27) afternoon. The race itself will run at 8 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

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Shayne Flaherty

JHN should be happy that Kyle pulled over twice for the stage wins.

What? JHN didn’t know?

Tom B

What are teammates for, especially when he is the truck owner?
Is it Kyle’s talent or the race truck? Remember Greg Biffle had the same results and he was retired for several years.

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