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David Ragan to be honored by Georgia ahead of 400th Cup start

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Sunday will be a big day for David Ragan when he fires up the engine of his No. 38 Ford for the Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The Front Row Motorsports driver will be making his 400th start in the series, a little more than 11 years after his first (a 42nd on Sept. 24, 2006 at Dover International Speedway).

Sunday’s race is made more significant with Ragan, 32, being a native of Unadilla, Georgia. The town is located roughly 95 miles south of the track in Hampton.

“Atlanta Motor Speedway is special to me because I grew up at that track,” Ragan said in a release. “I raced my Legends car there as a kid in the 90s and early 2000s. My dad still works there and has an office there. It’s just always has been a second home to me. So, we couldn’t have scripted it better to have my 400th start be in Atlanta.”

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Ragan will start his race weekend festivities Thursday at the state capitol building in Atlanta. Ragan and track president Ed Clark will attend a ceremony in the General Assembly where the legislature will issue a proclamation honoring Ragan’s achievement.

Once Sunday arrives, Ragan won’t just have friends and family in attendance to celebrate his milestone.

Ragan recently reread fan letters he received during his 2006 season when he made two starts in the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing leading into his rookie 2007 season.

He then reached out to some of those fans to invite them to the race. As a result, two fans from the Atlanta area and two fans from Missouri will be Ragan’s VIP guests for the race. Ragan is paying for their travel to track.

“Pulling out those old fan letters and contacting those people to invite them to come was cool,” Ragan said. “They were pretty surprised but jumped at the opportunity.”

Ragan’s car will be sponsored by Atlanta-based auction company Fr8Auctions.

In his Cup career, Ragan has two wins, 15 top fives, 39 top 10s and two poles.

His wins came in the July 2011 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona and the May 2013 race at Talladega.

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Entry lists for NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series at Atlanta

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The 2018 season continues this weekend for all three of NASCAR’s national series at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The weekend includes a double-header for the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series on Saturday.

It all leads up to the Cup Series and the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday.

Here’s the entry lists for each race.

Cup Series

There are 36 cars on the entry list for the Cup race.

Harrison Rhodes will make his Cup debut, driving the No. 51 for Rick Ware Racing. Ross Chastain will drive the No. 15 Chevrolet owned by Premium Motorsports.

Gray Gaulding is slated to drive BK Racing’s No. 23 Toyota.

Last year, Brad Keselowski led the final seven laps to win his first race at Atlanta. He beat Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth.

Click here for Cup entry list

Xfinity Series

There are 43 cars entered for the Rinnai 250.

Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Ty Dillon are the only full-time Cup drivers entered.

Tommy Joe Martins is entered in the No. 8 Chevrolet owned by B.J. McLeod Motorsports.

Austin Cindric will drive the No. 12 Ford owned by Team Penske.

Kyle Benjamin will drive Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota.

John Hunter Nemechek will make his first start in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet.

Chase Briscoe will make his Xfinity Series debut in the No. 60 Ford owned by Roush Fenway Racing.

Last year, Kyle Busch won this race over Keselowski and Harvick after leading 26 of 163 laps from the pole.

Click here for the entry list.

Truck Series

There are 34 entries for the Active Pest Control 200.

Kyle Busch will make his first start of the year in his No. 4 Toyota. Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon drive the No. 20 Chevrolet.

Joe Nemechek is entered in the No. 8 Chevrolet.

Joey Gase is listed as the driver for the No. 0 Chevrolet owned by Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing.

No driver is yet listed for the No. 1 Chevrolet owned by TJL Motorsports.

Last year, Christopher Bell won this race from the pole after leading 99 of 130 laps. He beat Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter.

Click here for Truck entry list

Darrell Wallace Jr. picks up sponsor for Atlanta Cup race

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Darrell Wallace Jr. followed up the biggest day of his racing career with a new sponsor announcement.

A day after finishing second in the Daytona 500, it was announced that Wallace and his No. 43 Chevrolet will be sponsored by Driving 101 in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Driving 101 operates the NASCAR Racing Experience, Richard Petty Driving Experience and Mario Andretti Racing Experience.

The NASCAR Racing Experience will be on the hood of Wallace’s car.

MORE: Keeping up with Richard Petty after Darrell Wallace’s historic Daytona 500

The NASCAR Racing Experience is an experiential racing company offering realistic racing programs to motorsports fans at 19 tracks across the United States. The Mario Andretti Racing Experience is held at 15 tracks.

“It’s great to see partners coming on board to support us,” Wallace said in a press release. “I’m all about getting fans involved in racing, and nobody does that better than the NASCAR Racing Experience. They allow fans to race the cars we drive. It’s the best way to get on the same track and in the same cars we race. That’s really cool and I’m pumped they are on our car this weekend.”

Wallace is the first full-time African-American driver in the Cup Series since Wendell Scott in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

He became the first to compete in the Daytona 500 since Scott in 1969.

His finish Sunday came in just his fifth Cup start.

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Harrison Rhodes to make Cup debut at Atlanta

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Rick Ware Racing announced Thursday that Harrison Rhodes will drive the team’s No. 51 car next weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It will be Rhodes’ first Cup start.

The 24-year-old Rhodes has competed in the Xfinity Series during the past five seasons for different organizations.

“I can’t believe I have this opportunity to drive for Rick Ware Racing at Atlanta,” said Rhodes in a statement from the team. “I began my NASCAR career with Rick and now six years later I’ll have the chance to race on Sunday. It’s a blessing and a dream come true.”

A primary sponsor will be announced later.

“I’m all about giving chances,” explained Ware in a statement from the team. “There’s no doubt that Rick Ware Racing has built itself on giving opportunities to young, vibrant drivers. Harrison is no exception.
“Even though he doesn’t have any experience in Cup, he has turned countless laps in an Xfinity Series car which will make his transition to our No. 51 Chevrolet that much smoother.”

Fans send lucky charms to help Chase Elliott get to Victory Lane

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In an effort to help Chase Elliott score that elusive first Cup victory, Atlanta Motor Speedway asked fans to send good luck charms to present to the Georgia driver.

Multiple boxes of Lucky Charms were sent. Other items included stuffed animals, a tie, coins, letters, and items with four-leaf clovers on them.

Ed Clark, president of Atlanta Motor Speedway, recalled doing a similar promotion when he worked at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Bill Elliott sought his first victory.

“If you can’t create a new idea, steal a new one,” Clark quipped Tuesday before presenting the good luck charms to Chase Elliott, who has finished runner-up seven times — including five such finishes last year — but has not won a Cup race.

Bill Elliott finished runner-up eight times before he scored his first Cup victory, which came in November 1983 at Riverside, California.

“I hope it works,” Chase Elliott said of the charms sent to Atlanta for him.

Elliott, in his first season driving the No. 9 for Hendrick Motorsports (a number his father drover during his career), was 10th in Daytona 500 qualifying Sunday. He will start fifth in the second Can-Am Duel qualifying race Thursday night. The two qualifying races set the starting lineup for the Daytona 500 behind the front row of Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin.

After the Daytona 500, the series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Feb. 25.

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