Rick Ware Racing to field full-time team in 2017 NASCAR Cup season

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Veteran NASCAR Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series team owner Rick Ware announced Friday that he will field a new full-time team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for the 2017 season.

The Thomasville, North Carolina-based team will make its debut at next month’s 59th Daytona 500 and compete as an “open non-chartered” team. Sponsorship of the team will be announced at a later date, according to a media release.

In much the same way Rick Ware Racing has done with both its Xfinity and Truck teams over the years, there will a rotating roster of drivers that will pilot the No. 51 Chevrolet during the 2017 season.

Timmy Hill will be the first driver during Speedweeks and in the Daytona 500. Others slated to compete in subsequent races include longtime RWR drivers Stanton Barrett, Cody Ware and Kevin O’Connell.

Ware has purchased assets from Tommy Baldwin Racing including cars, pulldown rig and technology support.

In addition Ware has added Joe Lax, who will serve as crew chief of the No. 51, and Mike Hillman Sr., who will fill a newly-created role as a consultant.

“We’ve been eyeing our return to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since the end of last year,” Ware said in a media release. “We knew with the competition level stronger than ever, we needed to take the steps to make sure we could come to the track and be as competitive as possible, while focused on building our organization as the season presses on.”

RWR has just one prior start in NASCAR’s premier series, coming at Las Vegas in 2012 when Hill finished last in a 42-car field after being involved in a wreck 42 laps into the 267-lap event.

Hill, 23, will have to race his way into the Daytona 500 by qualifying performance. It will be Hill’s 49th career NASCAR Cup start — but his first at Daytona. In addition, because RWR is a non-charter team, it and whichever driver is behind the wheel will have to qualify on performance for every NASCAR Cup race it enters.

After a one-year hiatus, RWR will also return to the Truck Series with Spencer Boyd as its driver. It is not expected to field an Xfinity Series program due to the upgrade to NASCAR Cup.

Last season in the Xfinity Series, fielding rides for 22 different drivers. Veteran driver Jeff Green had the best overall finish: seventh in the summer race at Daytona.

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Kyle Busch wins pole for Truck Series race at Atlanta

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Kyle Busch won the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, his second Truck Series pole at the track.

Driving his No 4. Toyota, Busch put down a top speed of 179.743 mph.

Matt Crafton qualified second with a speed of 179.220 mph.

“My lap was pretty good, certainly felt more stuck (to the track) the first time around than the second time around,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “We even picked up a little bit of time on that second one. … We were really, really tight here last year and made some good changes to it through the offseason with notes and things and coming back here better prepared.”

The top five is completed by Noah Gragson (179.214), Spencer Davis (178.862) and Justin Haley (178.775).

Gragson and Davis give Kyle Busch Motorsports three of the first four starting spots.

Johnny Sauter, who won last week at Daytona, will start ninth.

Busch’s pole is his second of the weekend. He also won the pole for Sunday’s Cup Series race.

The Active Pest Control 200 begins at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Christopher Bell on Xfinity pole at Atlanta

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HAMPTON, Georgia — Rookie Christopher Bell qualified first for Saturday’s Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a 181.176-mph lap in his No. 20 Toyota.

it’s the second pole in 10 starts for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

Joey Logano was second in his No. 22 Ford, followed by John Hunter Nemechek, Cole Custer and Kevin Harvick.

Click here for the Xfinity Series qualifying results and click here for the Xfinity lineup by row.

The Xfinity race will start at 2:16 p.m. ET, starting a doubleheader with the truck series at Atlanta.

Sunday’s Atlanta race moved to 1:06 p.m. ET start with threat of weather

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HAMPTON, Georgia – The threat of inclement weather has moved up the start of Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway by an hour.

NASCAR announced Saturday morning that the green flag will fall on the second race of the 2018 season at 1:06 p.m. ET.

Races become official after the second stage. The second stage of Sunday’s 500-mile race will end on Lap 170 of 325.

The wunderground.com site calls for an 80 percent chance of rain Sunday with the forecast worsening from 10 a.m.

Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson top list of drivers docked practice

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HAMPTON, Georgia — Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson both will be held during the final Cup Series practice Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Because his No. 78 Toyota failed to clear prequalifying inspection three times Friday, Truex will miss the final 30 minutes of the 80-minute session that will begin at noon ET. Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet will be out for the last 15 minutes because it failed the new Optical Scanning Station twice.

Harrison Rhodes also will miss 15 minutes for failing inspection twice. Jeffrey Earnhardt, Gray Gaulding Jr., Michael McDowell and Cole Whitt each will miss 15 minutes because they were late to qualifying inspection.

NASCAR changed its policy on how practice holds will be conducted this season. Instead of serving the penalty in the pits at the start of the session, drivers will park their cars for the length of the penalty up until the end of the session.