By Anthony Rhoads
Atlanta Motor Speedway is playing host to its own version of March Madness this weekend.
All three major NASCAR series are coming to Atlanta, starting with the Craftsman Truck race tonight and following with Busch and Nextel Cup series races Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The weekend will feature two local drivers. Stockbridge's Jimmy Kite will race in the Craftsman Truck Series event, while Peachtree City resident and AMS Thursday Thunder alumnus Reed Sorenson will compete in the Busch race.
While Kite will make his NASCAR debut tonight in the truck race, he's familiar with racing at AMS, having competed in two Indy Racing League events at the speedway in 1999 and 2000. He recently signed a deal with MRD Motorsports to race at Atlanta.
"I'm getting to make my NASCAR Truck Series debut at my home track of Atlanta," Kite said. "I'm looking forward to getting in this (number) 06 MRD truck."
Sorenson is competing in his first full season in the Busch Series and looks to contend for its Rookie of the Year award. Sorenson raced in five Busch events last year, including the fall race at Atlanta. There he led for 47 laps, but had to settle for a 29th-place finish after a late-race accident.
"We're going to have a lot of hometown fans there, so you always want to do good in front of them," Sorenson said. "We were fast there last year so that was pretty cool to be fast at your hometown track. Hopefully, we'll be good again. I've got family there and my friends are going to be there and you don't want to do bad in front of them."
There's nothing Sorenson wants more than to get his first Busch victory in front of the hometown fans. He's had one top-five and three top-10s this year but no wins.
"We're taking that same car (we had last year in Atlanta), so we should be pretty good," Sorenson said. "I was kind of surprised at how well we ran there last year but we tested the track and had a really good car. We are hoping to lead laps again and pull the Discount Tire Dodge into victory lane this weekend."
Weather forecast: Atlanta Motor Speedway hasn't had much luck with its race weekends over the years and the local forecast for Sunday's Nextel race includes the potential for delays with possible showers. No precipitation is expected today, however, with only a 10-percent chance of rain on Saturday.