Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Drivers Raise the Roof at Atlanta

In A Nutshell

For the first time in 15 years, Kyle Busch won a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race driving for a team that wasn’t his own.

Busch won Saturday’s (Feb. 25) Fr8 208 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in his first truck start after selling his beloved Kyle Busch Motorsports Truck Series team to Spire Motorsports. Coincidentally, the win came in his first of five starts with Spire – meaning he essentially drove one of his old trucks to victory.

See also
Kyle Busch Wins Atlanta, Scores 65th Truck Series Triumph

Busch’s win is also the first in a truck at a drafting track since his 2014 win at Daytona International Speedway. For Spire, it’s the team’s third career Truck Series win and first by a non-Hendrick Motorsports Cup Series driver. William Byron won at Martinsville Speedway in 2022, while Kyle Larson took North Wilkesboro Speedway in 2023.

Ty Majeski finished second, followed by a pair of TRICON Garage teammates, Corey Heim and Taylor Gray. Daytona winner Nick Sanchez rounded out the top five.

The Top Truckers at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Winner, Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch
Polesitter: Daniel Dye
Stage 1 Winner: Christian Eckes
Most Laps Led (46 of 135 laps): Tyler Ankrum
Rookie of the Race: Layne Riggs

Top Storylines of the Race

  • Only 33 trucks entered the race, the lowest for the series since 2020. However, of those 33, only three drivers failed to finish.
  • Only Majeski broke up a potential top-four sweep for McAnally-Hilgemann Racing, as MHR qualified first, second, fourth, and fifth. Majeski’s third-place qualifying effort split up MHR’s trucks.
  • Sanchez’s fifth-place finish comes amid a recent lawsuit filed by Busch and KBM against Sanchez’s team Rev Racing over missed payments concerning their partnership in 2023. Rev’s trucks were housed in KBM’s shop and the two had a technical alliance – both things remained true through the sale, as now Rev has the same deal with Spire. The lawsuit didn’t seem to hinder Busch or Sanchez based on their Atlanta performances.
  • Despite winning stage one, Christian Eckes failed to finish the race after encountering a brake issue. Eckes first reported the issue around lap 20 and his day ended on lap 50.
  • Tyler Ankrum again had a fantastic race, his second straight with his new team in MHR. Unfortunately, Ankrum was shuffled out by the pack and never returned to the front, finishing seventh. The finish is disappointing, considering the circumstances, but it has to give Ankrum a stroke of confidence that he probably hasn’t had in years.

The Winning Move

Grant Enfinger led with less than 10 laps to go before a flat tire caused him to lose pace and ultimately finish 25th. As Enfinger faded, Busch swooped underneath to take the lead. The aging surface of Atlanta didn’t allow any good runs to form almost all day. Therefore, it was next to impossible for Majeski, Heim or Gray to get a run, letting Busch hang on to win the race with relative ease.

Championship Rundown

As Busch is a Cup Series driver, Sanchez remains the only driver locked into the playoffs. There is still room for more than 10 winners, as there are still 14 regular season races left, but Sanchez is currently in the clear.

Rookie Report

Layne Riggs had initially spent much of the race up front, even earning stage points before fading to 24th. However, Riggs was disqualified in post-race tech inspection; he therefore loses all his stage points and is credited with finishing last. However, that doesn’t take away from his performance; for that, he will earn Rookie of the Race.

No. 38 – Layne Riggs (33rd)
No. 46 – Thad Moffitt (26th)
No. 66 – Conner Jones (29th)

See also
Bayley Currey's Truck Acquires Sunroof in Bizarre Atlanta Incident

One Big Takeaway From This Race

Despite just 33 drivers competing in the race, they still managed to blow the doors off their trucks.

Or, roofs, rather.

It started when Bayley Currey‘s roof flew off on lap 95. Yes, you read that right. Currey had hit debris earlier in the race that had sheared a brace off that held the roof to the windshield. Currey’s No. 41 was immediately parked, as not having a roof is an obvious safety issue.

Social media was ablaze with pictures of the No. 41’s windshield significantly bowed in. Daniel Hemric, in particular, was most vocal about it.

Once sheared off, Currey’s roof smashed into the No. 25 of Ty Dillon, who also suffered roof damage. Fortunately, Dillon finished the race without any significant incident, such as, say, his roof flying off. He ended up 14th.

Meanwhile, pictures surfaced of Riggs’ No. 38 with a flex in his windshield similar to Currey’s. However, Riggs didn’t suffer any damage to the windshield or roof to cause it. In post-race inspection, he was disqualified after it was found that his windshield fasteners had failed.

Riggs’ disqualification in particular is of note because Front Row Motorsports, the team for whom Riggs drives, was disqualified for the very same reason in the penultimate race of the 2023 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway after it appeared then-driver Zane Smith‘s windshield had been flexing in under green.

While it’s unclear why there were so many windshield and roof issues in Atlanta (and it may never become totally clear) it may be worth a look from NASCAR to see if it was pure coincidence or if there’s a legitimate issue in the body fabrication of the trucks.

See also
Misfortune for Christian Eckes, Jack Wood Sour Brilliant Day for MHR

Talkin’ Truckers

Busch with a message to his fans:

“Started having fluid in the car on lap 20 or 25.” Eckes explains his brake issues:

“It sucks because I think we could’ve won that thing.” Currey details his roof flying off:

“We gotta do something […] to get it to where we’re not just single-file anymore.” Taylor Gray believes track surface aging will help the racing:

“I thought it was just vinyl or something,” polesitter Dye jokes about what he saw when Currey lost his roof:

“I’ve never seen anything [like that],” Dillon discusses his vantage point after running into Currey’s sheared roof:

“Just an overconfident, conceited move on my part” – A dejected Ankrum upset to walk away without a win despite leading the most laps:

Paint Scheme of the Race

Colby Howard returned to the racetrack at Atlanta, driving TRICON’s all-star No. 1 truck. With him came sponsorship from the Project Hope Foundation. As a result, Howard showed up at the 1.54-mile pseudo-superspeedway with a bright red machine that stood out in the Georgia sun.

Next Stop

Let’s go to Sin City and try to hit the jackpot.

The Craftsman Truck Series will head west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 1 for a late-night showdown in the desert. Busch is the race’s defending winner, and will make his second of five starts this season at Las Vegas in hopes of defending his win.

Coverage for the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will begin at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, March 1. FOX Sports 1 will carry the television broadcast of the race.

About the author

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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