Atlanta: GM Racing preview

* Chevrolet Silverado drivers have scored three wins at NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) competition at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) - more than any other manufacturer * Chevrolet Silverado has won six of the12 NCTS ...

* Chevrolet Silverado drivers have scored three wins at NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) competition at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) - more than any other manufacturer

* Chevrolet Silverado has won six of the12 NCTS Manufacturer's Championships

* Silverado drivers have won eight of the 12 possible Series' Driver Championships

* Silverado drivers have won more races than any other brand - 125 of 292 - 42.8% (1995-2006)

Hampton, GA - Team Chevy Silverado teams and drivers are ready to return to action at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS). This weekend the Bowtie Brigade pickup truck racers head to the very fast 1.5-mile banked track just south of Atlanta Georgia for the American Commercial Lines 200, race three of the 25-event 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) season. In the five previous NCTS races at AMS, Silverado drivers have won three times and been involved in some on the most spectacular finishes in the series' history.

Who can forget the Fall 2005 race when young Kyle Busch was in a fierce five-truck battle coming out of turn four to the checkered flag and won the race as his Silverado crashed? Going backwards along the front straight wall after contact was made and a melee ensued as the drivers battled for the trip to victory lane, Busch climbed from his mangled and smoking Chevy the winner of the race, much to the delight of the fans.

Or the Spring 2005 race when Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Bobby Labonte battled to the finishline in their Silverados door-handle-to-door-handle banging off one another? Hornaday, Jr. took the win by a just a spec of tire rubber on his front bumper.

"Overall Atlanta has been a good track for our Chevrolet Silverados," said Dayne Pierantoni Chevrolet program manager NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for GM Racing. "It's a tough track that requires the complete package engine, handling and aero. It also takes a great driver who can adapt as the line typically moves from the bottom to the top of the track as the race progresses. We have Mike Bliss and Ron Hornaday returning as former winners. Clint Bowyer is going to be in a second KHI entry. These guys along with the rest of the Chevrolet camp should put the numbers on our side but it's never easy in the Craftsman Truck Series." Hornaday, Jr. expects this Friday's race to be just as action-packed. Behind the wheel of his Kevin Harvick Inc.(KHI) fielded No. 33 AES HR Solutions Silverado, the two-time NCTS champion and the winningest driver in series' history is excited about the team's chances to get a second victory at AMS.

"Atlanta is going to be really cool," said Hornaday, Jr. "We just raced at Fontana, which we typically don't run decent at, but we were finally able to run really well there. I think we owe a lot to Rick Ren (crew chief) and also Kevin and DeLana (Harvick) for what they have been doing at KHI.

"It's ten times better than the start of last year, with a loose wheel and carburetor shaft busting at California. Now here we are in the top-five in points, it gives us so much more of a head start than last year."

"With having the second truck, it is really going to make our team shine this year" Hornaday, Jr. added. "The good thing about it is, Clint Bowyer is going out there in the No. 2 truck and we will also get some good feedback from him during practice.

"We've won at Atlanta before, and Rick Ren has also run well there in the past with other drivers. I'm looking forward to taking our AES HR Solutions Chevrolet out there and doing just as well. I'm looking forward to Atlanta -- we know where the winner's circle is. We did a burnout there before, and I'd like to put another one in there."

Joining Hornaday in a second KHI entry is Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Nextel Cup Series regular Clint Bowyer. Bowyer, No.2 Camping World Silverado, has a tremendous record in NCTS competition with three previous starts and one win. Bowyer dominated the Silverado 350K last fall at Texas Motor Speedway leading 103 of the 140 laps to capture his first NCTS win.

"I'm really excited to get back behind the wheel of a truck," said Bowyer. "I had a lot of fun last year in the Truck Series and I was really happy when Kevin and DeLana asked me to drive for them in a few races this season. It's great that Camping World has come aboard as a sponsor. Hopefully we can bring them a lot of success.

"I'm looking forward to racing in Atlanta, especially since the track is similar to Texas, where I got my first Truck Series win last season. I'll be pulling triple duty, so hopefully I can start the weekend off right with a good run in the Camping World Silverado."

Mike Bliss, No. 40 Key Motorsports Silverado, is the most recent NCTS winner at AMS, taking the victory in October 2006. Reunited with crew chief Barry Dodson, Bliss is coming off a great run at California Speedway and looks for great things at AMS.

"It's always nice to go back to a place where you won before," said Bliss, 2002 NCTS champion. "We had a good run in the truck in California, and I'll be driving that same truck in Atlanta. It helps to know that you'll be driving a truck that is dependable and that you have some experience with as far as set-up is concerned. That should definitely help."

Brendan Gaughan, No. 77 South Point Racing Silverado, knows his team is ready to race and in capable hands so he can divide his time between the race track and watching his beloved Georgetown Hoyas in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Gaughan was a reserve (1994-1997) and played under legendary Coach John Thompson. He competed on a team that made it to two Sweet 16s and one Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament.

"Atlanta will take care of itself," said Gaughan. "I've got a great race team with Bryan Berry at the helm. I'm not a driver that has to be out there throwing springs and shocks at it. When practice ends, I'll debrief with my crew chief, take care of my responsibilities, and then our television in the lounge which is normally set to SPEED will actually be changed to CBS, and I'll watch the games.

"The focus has really stayed the same. We went to Daytona and we were great. We went to California and we were as bad as this team had ever been. We believe we know why, and now its time to put that behind us. It is almost like a free throw - so what you missed the first one, you've got to put that behind you and go for the second one, and life doesn't stop. It doesn't stop just because you missed that free throw, or because you had a bad race. So now we go to Atlanta, we know we are good. We know everything's fine. We move on. We put those races behind us. We take those, learn from them, and don't let it happen again."

Dennis Setzer, No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado, is ready to get his season on track after an uncharacteristic slow start for both the perennial NCTS championship contender and team owners Wayne and Connie Spears.

"We need to run good at Atlanta," said Setzer. "The whole team has been working on our program. We didn't run as well as needed at California and Atlanta been up and down for me so we really need a solid race under our belts to build momentum for the rest of the season.

"This is a night race and the track will have better grip than the fall race. I always look forward to Atlanta and feel good about our team and how we will run this weekend."

Bill Lester, No. 15 Bowen Family Homes Silverado, will make his first start at Atlanta for Billy Ballew Motorsports, the team that Busch took to victory lane. Lester is an Atlanta resident and is looking forward to being home for this weekend's race.

"We are really excited about heading to what most consider the home track of not just me but of Billy Ballew as well," said Lester. "We have Bowen Family Homes who is a Georgia based company onboard this weekend as well. I know that the team has put together a great Silverado for us this weekend and I am looking forward to bringing home a top-10 finish if not a win for Billy Ballew Motorsports. I really like the track - Atlanta is fast and a track you need to be on your toes from the start of the race to the finish. Atlanta hasn't always been my friend but again this No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Team knows how to put a truck in Victory Lane here and I hope to carry on the tradition."

Kraig Kinser, No. 47 Ginn Resorts Silverado, has a lot more NCTS experience under his belt heading back to Atlanta this weekend.

"I am looking forward to making my second trip to Atlanta and getting our Ginn Resorts Silverado back on the track," said Kinser. " I ran the spring race there last year; we started ninth, but ended up finishing 28th after a tough day. Hopefully, this year we can get the monkey off our backs and have a good qualifying run, but more importantly, a good run and finish in the race. All of the guys back at the shop have been working their tails off and have been practicing pit stops, and I can never say enough how much I appreciate their hard work.

"Although Atlanta is definitely one of the fastest and hardest tracks we run on, my approach is going to be just like any other weekend. We need to get some laps under our belts in practice, qualify well, have good pit stops during the race, and stay out of trouble."

Rookie Willie Allen, No. 13 ThorSport Silverado, will get his first look at AMS in NCTS competition.

"My confidence is very high going into Atlanta," said Allen. "I feel that we gained a ton of knowledge during the California race. We were running very competitively near the end at California and I can't wait to get to Atlanta. I think most of the drivers love Atlanta mainly because its a super fast multigrooved race track that you can race side-by-side on. I've been watching some of the race tapes from the past several years to get a better aspect of the line around the track and how the trucks react in traffic. I know that all the Chevrolet teams are working very hard to make it back to victory lane and I think Atlanta will be a great track for the Silverados to do it."

Tim Sauter, No. 08 Lester Buildings Silverado, is also ready to get back in action after a two-week layoff between NCTS races.

"The Green Light team has used the two weeks off since California preparing a different Silverado to bring to the Atlanta race," said Sauter. "I am pleased with the effort of the team and the progress they have made in the shop. We got a very late start preparing for the season; it's been a lot of work updating the sheet metal on these Chevy's to the new 2007 body style. We learned a few things at California and I believe we have a better idea what this new body package needs to handle better. We'll know what we've got in the first few laps of practice."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Dennis Setzer , Tim Sauter , Bill Lester , Brendan Gaughan , Mike Bliss , Clint Bowyer , Kraig Kinser , Willie Allen , Kyle Busch , John Thompson
Teams Richard Childress Racing