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On a tripleheader weekend in the Peach State, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series visits Atlanta Motor Speedway for the first time since the racing surface was repaved and reconfigured last year.
The Fr8 208, which precedes the NASCAR Xfinity Series event on Saturday, will be contested over 135 laps (208 miles), with stage breaks scheduled after 30 and 60 laps. Kyle Busch took the checkered flag in last year’s race, but the six-time Atlanta winner isn’t defending in the lower series this time.
The first two races of the season haven’t gone the way John Hunter Nemechek—or the oddsmakers, for that matter—had anticipated.
In the season opener, the driver of the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota started second but was wiped out in a crash with two laps left and finished 24th. Las Vegas brought a similar story. Nemechek started on the pole but spun late and finished 25th.
Atlanta will be a different matter. On a freshly paved track, in a race Nemechek predicts will be “insane,” we expect the five-time 2021 winner to right his ship and win the race.
And at +500 via DraftKings Sportsbook, he’ll pay decent money to do so.
There are only three former Atlanta Truck Series winners in Saturday’s FR8 208—John Hunter Nemechek, Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton.
Nemechek is the favorite at +500 via DraftKings Sportsbook, and Enfinger is a solid fourth choice at +800. Three-time Truck Series champion Crafton, however, is getting no respect. He’s posted at +2500 despite a seventh-place finish in his most recent race at Las Vegas.
Crafton is also paying +700 to finish in the top three and +250 to run top-five. Yes, he’s adjusting to new crew chief Jeff Hensley after Junior Joiner retired from a decade-long partnership with the 45-year-old veteran driver.
But the potential payoff is just too tempting. We recommend betting on Crafton across the board. After all, he has recorded six top-fives in 20 starts at the 1.5-mile track.
Atlanta Motor Speedway has been repaved for the first time since 1997. Anticipating high speeds on the smooth surface, NASCAR has mandated a lower-horsepower superspeedway competition package for Saturday’s FR8 208.
If that results in the sort of pack racing we see at Daytona and Talladega, the field of potential winners will expand, given the importance of the aerodynamic draft in keeping the trucks closer together.
Accordingly, we’re inclined to give a nod to Ross Chastain, who is moonlighting for Niece Motorsports in the Truck Series after two straight podium finishes in NASCAR’s premier Cup division. Chastain won three Truck races for Niece in 2019, and we think he’s a good bet at +1000 (DraftKings).
|Race||Fr8 208 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race|
|Location||Atlanta Motor Speedway|
|Time||Saturday, March 19, 2:30 p.m. ET|
Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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