Five things to watch for in the Atlanta Xfinity Series race

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Five things to watch for in the Atlanta Xfinity Series race
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
Feb 24, 2018, 1:33 PM

Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway is the second of the 2018 season but there will be several new faces.

John Hunter Nemechek, Chip Ganassi Racing, Fire Alarm Systems Chevrolet Camaro
John Hunter Nemechek, Chip Ganassi Racing, Fire Alarm Systems Chevrolet Camaro
Garrett Smithley, JD Motorsports, Flex Tape Chevrolet Camaro crashes
Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Ruud Toyota Camry
Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Ruud Toyota Camry
Ryan Truex, Kaulig Racing, Bar Harbor / Sea Watch International Chevrolet Camaro
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford Fusion
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion and crew chief Rodney Childers

Here are five things to watch in Saturday’s Rinnai 250 (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1):

  • Chip Ganassi Racing’s John Hunter Nemechek and Roush Fenway Racing’s Chase Briscoe will make their season debuts at Atlanta. Nemechek, 20, is driving CGR’s No. 42 Chevrolet with crew chief Mike Shiplett. He is running a part-time schedule this season after competing full-time the past two seasons in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Briscoe, 23, is driving RFR’s No. 60 Ford with winning crew chief Mike Kelley leading the way. Briscoe is competing part-time with RFR this season after running full-time in Trucks with Brad Keselowski Racing in 2017.

  • Fresh off his career-best fifth-place finish at Daytona, Garrett Smithley will compete at his hometown track with a different look. He usually competes in JD Motorsports’ No. 0 Chevrolet but will be driving the team’s No. 15 this weekend. Smithley made his debut with JDM at Atlanta in 2016, finishing in the top-25 in just his second career series start.

  • Xfinity Series rookie Christopher Bell will be looking to rebound from a tough start at Daytona. Bell, 23, was involved in an accident on Lap 11 that forced him out of the race and left him with a 39th-place finish and one point in the driver standings. Bell won last season’s Truck race at Atlanta on his way to the series championship.

  • Ryan Truex is hoping his good start to his first full-time season in the Xfinity Series continues. Truex finished seventh last weekend at Daytona and is fourth in the series standings with his new team, Kaulig Racing. He has one previous series start in Atlanta, starting fourth and finishing 11th with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2011.

  • There are three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers entered in the race. Ty Dillon will drive the No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing; Joey Logano will drive the No. 22 Team Penske Ford; and Kevin Harvick will make his first start in the No. 98 Biagi-DenBeste Racing Ford. Harvick is the only former winner entered in the field (he won series races at Atlanta in 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2015).
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John Hunter Nemechek makes his first laps in a Xfinity Series car

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John Hunter Nemechek makes his first laps in a Xfinity Series car

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Kevin Harvick cruises to the win in Atlanta Xfinity race

Kevin Harvick cruises to the win in Atlanta Xfinity race
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