Saturday’s Nalley Cars 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway marks a new era for the 1.54-mile facility, with the reconfiguration and reprofiling of one of the oldest surfaces on the NASCAR schedule.
The massive change, which many expect could produce a hybrid of intermediate racing and superspeedway racing, creates a myriad of unknowns surrounding this weekend’s racing, as all three of NASCAR’s National Series race on the track for the first time.
Last weekend at Phoenix Raceway, Noah Gragson broke through to capture his first victory of the season, continuing a four-race streak of top-three finishes to start his fourth season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Gragson joins Austin Hill, Cole Custer, and Ty Gibbs as the unique winners so far in 2022.
Among drivers making their 2022 season debut at Atlanta are Chad Finchum, Loris Hezemans, Sage Karam, Harrison Rhodes, and Dillon Bassett, each of which are feeling various levels of comfort heading into qualifying.
For a number of drivers and teams, an unfortunate start to the season has put them in a position where they’ll have to post a time inside the top-33 in qualifying.
|9||Noah Gragson||JR Motorsports||1st in 2022 NXS OP
|54||Ty Gibbs||Joe Gibbs Racing||2nd in 2022 NXS OP
|7||Justin Allgaier||JR Motorsports||3rd in 2022 NXS OP
|16||AJ Allmendinger||Kaulig Racing||4th in 2022 NXS OP
|11||Daniel Hemric||Kaulig Racing||6th in 2022 NXS OP
Noah Gragson, Ty Gibbs, Justin Allgaier, and AJ Allmendinger – the top-four drivers in 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Owner Points — are all mathematically locked into the field for Sunday’s Nalley Cars 250 at Atlanta, based on their points position. Daniel Hemric – the series’ defending champion — is guaranteed a spot in the field.
|8||Josh Berry||JR Motorsports||5th in 2022 NXS OP
|19||Brandon Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing||7th in 2022 NXS OP|
|18||Trevor Bayne||Joe Gibbs Racing||8th in 2022 NXS OP|
|26||Jeffrey Earnhardt||Sam Hunt Racing||9th in 2022 NXS OP|
|39||Ryan Sieg||RSS Racing||10th in 2022 NXS OP|
|1||Sam Mayer||JR Motorsports||11th in 2022 NXS OP|
|98||Riley Herbst||Stewart-Haas Racing||12th in 2022 NXS OP|
|21||Austin Hill||Richard Childress Racing||13th in 2022 NXS OP
|68||Brandon Brown||Brandonbilt Motorsports||14th in 2022 NXS OP
|2||Sheldon Creed||Richard Childress Racing||15th in 2022 NXS OP|
|10||Landon Cassill||Kaulig Racing||16th in 2022 NXS OP|
|27||Jeb Burton||Our Motorsports||17th in 2022 NXS OP
|23||Anthony Alfredo||Our Motorsports||18th in 2022 NXS OP|
|36||Alex Labbe||DGM Racing||19th in 2022 NXS OP|
|07||Joe Graf Jr.||SS Green Light Racing||20st in 2022 NXS OP|
|02||Brett Mofitt||Our Motorsports||21st in 2022 NXS OP|
|66||JJ Yeley||MBM Motorsports||22nd in 2022 NXS OP|
|51||Jeremy Clements||Jeremy Clements Racing||23rd in 2022 NXS OP|
Based on recent qualifying trends, as well as the quality of the cars listed in the group above, we can say that teams sitting from 5th to 23rd in 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Owner Points are feeling good about their chances of qualifying for Saturday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Josh Berry, Austin Hill, Brandon Brown, and Jeb Burton can all fall back on a Past Winners Provisional, in the event that they are unable to post a speed inside the top-33 and their owner points position isn’t good enough to acquire a provisional.
THE DANGER ZONE:
|44||Sage Karam||Alpha Prime Racing||24th in 2022 NXS OP|
|4||Bayley Currey||JD Motorsports||25th in 2022 NXS OP|
|31||Myatt Snider||Jordan Anderson Racing||26th in 2022 NXS OP
|28||Kyle Sieg||RSS Racing||27th in 2022 NXS OP|
|38||Loris Hezemans||RSS Racing||28th in 2022 NXS OP|
|92||Kyle Weatherman||DGM Racing||29th in 2022 NXS OP|
|35||Shane Lee||Emerling-Gase Motorsports||30th in 2022 NXS OP|
|5||Matt Mills||BJ McLeod Motorsports||31st in 2022 NXS OP|
|6||Ryan Vargas||JD Motorsports||32nd in 2022 NXS OP|
|91||Mason Massey||DGM Racing||33rd in 2022 NXS OP|
|48||Jade Buford||Big Machine Racing||34th in 2022 NXS OP|
|45||Tommy Joe Martins||Alpha Prime Racing||35th in 2022 NXS OP|
|99||Stefan Parsons||BJ McLeod Motorsports||36th in 2022 NXS OP|
|78||Josh Williams||BJ McLeod Motorsports||37th in 2022 NXS OP|
|34||Jesse Iwuji||Jesse Iwuji Motorsports||39th in 2022 NXS OP|
|08||David Starr||SS Green Light Racing||41st in 2022 NXS OP|
|47||Brennan Poole||Mike Harmon Racing||42nd in 2022 NXS OP|
|13||Chad Finchum||MBM Motorsports||45th in 2022 NXS OP|
|77||Dillon Bassett||Bassett Racing||46th in 2022 NXS OP|
|52||Harrison Rhodes||Jimmy Means Racing||47th in 2022 NXS OP|
Entering Atlanta, drivers and teams that are currently sitting outside the top-23 in 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series owner points, are probably somewhat worried about their chances of qualifying into Saturday’s event.
While some may be confident in posting a time inside the top-33, there is always a chance of a mechanical issue, or accident, like what happened to Jeb Burton at Las Vegas, requiring him to use a Past Winners Provisional.
Myatt Snider – driving the No. 31 for Jordan Anderson Racing — has a Past Winners Provisional available to him, should he need it, as a result of his victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway last season.
Harrison Rhodes, Dillon Bassett, Chad Finchum, Brennan Poole, and David Starr are the five drivers that must post a time inside the top-33 in qualifying, or else they’ll face going home.
In the event that Saturday’s qualifying session at Phoenix is canceled because of inclement weather, the following procedure will be used to set the field of 38 drivers:
- Positions 1 to 30 will be assigned to the top-30 vehicles in the current year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series owner points, that are entered in the event.
9 – Gragson
54 – Gibbs
7 – Allgaier
16 – Allmendinger
8 – Berry
11 – Hemric
19 – Jones
18 – Bayne
26 – Earnhardt
39 – R. Sieg
1 – Mayer
98 – Herbst
21 – A. Hill
68 – Brown
2 – Creed
10 – Cassill
27 – Burton
23 – Alfredo
36 – Labbé
07 – Graf
02 – Moffitt
66 – Yeley
51 – Clements
44 – Karam
4 – Currey
31 – Snider
28 – K. Sieg
38 – Hezemans
92 – Weatherman
35 – Lee
- The next available positions will be assigned to any team owners/drivers that have won a points-paying event in the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ current or previous season (Owners before Drivers, in the event more than eligible spots in the field): NONE
- The next available positions, if any, will be assigned to any drivers who are eligible past champions of the NASCAR Xfinity Series. (Must have won a title in last 10 seasons, competed in series’ previous season, and be running for points): NONE
- The next available starting positions, if any, will be assigned to the teams that are highest in NASCAR Xfinity Series owner point standings, that have yet to secure a spot in the field:
5 – Mills
6 – Vargas
91 – Massey
48 – Buford
45 – Martins
99 – Parsons
78 – Williams
34 – Iwuji
Therefore, in the event of Saturday’s qualifying session being rained out, David Starr (SS Green Light Racing), Brennan Poole (Mike Harmon Racing), Chad Finchum (MBM Motorsports), Dillon Bassett (Bassett Racing), and Harrison Rhodes (Jimmy Means Racing) would be the five drivers that fail to make the event.