Newman Tackling Trucks

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Kevin Harvick is tapping a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series unknown to pilot his No. 2 Kevin Harvick Inc. truck in Saturday's E-Z-Go 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Ryan Newman will make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut behind the wheel of KHI's Chevrolet truck, and he's looking to have a fun time.

"It's the first time I've had the opportunity to run in the Truck Series. Everyone has always told me how much fun they have running the trucks, and now I've got the shot to see what it's like. I expect to go there and have fun," Newman said.

"But in saying that, we should have a shot at the win in the end," he added. "KHI has two really strong trucks. My teammate is Ron Hornaday, who is currently second in points, and I think he was second at Atlanta earlier this year so I expect we'll have a really good truck - a top-five or top-10 truck. And by halfway, I'd like to be in a position where we have a shot at the win."

The decision to put Newman in the truck wasn't unfounded. The "Rocket Man" has raced in both the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Atlanta.

Newman has finished in the top 10 four times in 13 starts in the Sprint Cup Series and is tied with Buddy Baker for the most Cup poles at the track - seven. In the Nationwide Series at AMS, Newman has made two starts.

But as he climbs behind the wheel of the team's chassis No. 014 truck, Newman sees that he will have a bit of a learning curve at the track.

"The biggest thing I will have to learn is how the trucks race. It seems like they get pretty loose inside each other," Newman said. "I'm sure I will be talking to Kevin and Ron a lot over the weekend so that we can get the No. 2 truck up front."

Newman has a good truck to try to take to the front at Atlanta. The chassis is termed "Old Faithful" by the team as it has a consistent record of being solid throughout a race and coming on strong at the finish. The truck brought the team its first top-10 finish of the 2008 season earlier this year at AMS when Jack Sprague piloted it to a sixth-place finish.

Harvick has been trying to find drivers to pilot his team's truck after parting ways with Sprague a few weeks ago. Harvick had his turn in the truck last weekend at Martinsville, which resulted in a 15th-place finish for the team.

Newman decided to take the reins of the truck this weekend for a number of reasons.

"First off, I have never driven a truck before and it was really something that I wanted to have the chance to do," Newman said. "Secondly, Kevin and DeLana (Harvick) are good friends of mine and (wife) Krissie's, and when the seat came open in their 2 truck, we talked about it and he asked me if I would be interested. The timing was just right. It's kind of a difficult time for them with having the need for a driver to fill the seat for the last few races, and I am glad to help them out at Atlanta this weekend."

Hopefully Newman will think it was the right decision even after he's faced off against the series' 35 other hungry competitors in the race. He'll not only face a challenge by the truck series regulars, but he'll see some competition from familiar faces from the Cup Series as well.

Three-time winner Kyle Busch will return to try and keep his record perfect at AMS with Billy Ballew Motorsports, by capturing his fourth win in his fourth start there with the team. A victory would be his third consecutive at the track and would tie the record for most wins there.

"We will return to Atlanta with the same truck [we won with in the spring] and hopefully pull off another win," Busch said. "Hopefully we'll be able to set it up for Billy Ballew to take home the owner's championship."

Denny Hamlin will also be in the race, in the No. 15 Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota, as will former AMS winners Mike Skinner, Todd Bodine and Ron Hornaday Jr.

"Atlanta Motor Speedway is very competitive," explained truck owner Ballew. "Usually, there's a race all the way to the checkered flag and that's how it was in 2006. When we won two-years ago, we put on new tires and Kyle [Busch] had to make a pass coming out of turn four to claim the win."

The drivers take to the track Friday morning for the first practice session at 11:30 a.m. (ET). A final go around of practice is scheduled for 1:30 later that day.

Qualifying precedes Saturday's race at 9:10 a.m. (ET). The E-Z-GO 200 takes the green flag at 1:30 p.m. with coverage Live on SPEED beginning at 1 p.m. (ET).

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