Bounty 101: Inside the challenge to Kyle Busch’s Gander Trucks reign

Matt Sullivan | Getty Images
Matt Sullivan
Getty Images

This weekend’s NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race has some extra money on the line for drivers aiming to knock Kyle Busch’s dominance down a peg. Catch up on the lucrative initiative and the chance for drivers to collect at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

– What: Vet Tix/Camping World 200
– When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
– Where: Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1.54-mile oval in Hampton, Georgia.

The origins (throughout history): The concept of a bounty being leveled on a hotshot driver isn’t new. In the past, track promoters and series officials on a local/regional level occasionally announced cash bonuses for anyone able to defeat a driver with an exceptionally long stretch of winning ways. Those bounty incentives often sparked outside interest for drivers aiming for a rich payday and fans eager to see the outcome.

RELATED: Gander Trucks entry list

Legendary Wisconsin wheelman Dick Trickle was a frequent target of bounties throughout his short-track career. One such occasion lured NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison to the Badger State to challenge Trickle in the midst of Allison’s Cup Series championship season in 1983.

This origins (of this year’s bounty): Kyle Busch’s Gander Trucks victory earlier this season prompted friendly accusations by Kyle Larson over social media of cherry-picking wins from series regulars. Fellow driver Kevin Harvick responded with a Twitter challenge of his own, offering up $50,000 for any full-time Cup Series driver who beats Busch in his remaining four races planned for this year. Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis matched the bounty, making the prize an even $100,000.

Not to be left out, Gander Trucks regulars have their chance to cash in through a $50,000 bonus offered by Chris Larsen of Halmar International, a backer and co-owner for trucks veteran Stewart Friesen.

RELATED: Kevin Harvick issues bounty challenge | Kyle Busch: Bounty is ‘unique opportunity’

The hunted: Kyle Busch, the series’ winningest driver with 57 career victories. Busch has won the last seven Gander Trucks races he’s entered, spanning back to a late July win at Pocono Raceway in 2018. He’s also a five-time winner in the series at Atlanta.

This weekend’s bounty hunters: Three full-time Cup Series drivers will face Busch in Saturday’s 200-miler. Chase Elliott is set for his first Gander Trucks start since 2017, challenging in a fifth GMS Racing entry. Cup Series rookie John Hunter Nemechek will make his 100th Gander Trucks start in a NEMCO Motorsports ride, and Premium Motorsports’ Brennan Poole will vie for the bonus with On Point Motorsports.

Other bounty opportunities: Busch is scheduled to race in the maximum five events allowable to Cup Series veterans. His other planned races: March 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, March 27 at Texas Motor Speedway, May 30 at Kansas Speedway. Cup Series regulars Kyle Larson and Erik Jones have announced intentions to challenge for the bounty at Homestead, and Elliott is set for another chance at Busch in Kansas.