While the discovery didn't occur in nearly enough time for Team XTREME to compete in this weekend's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, it was a huge boost for the small-budget operation in its bid to make the next event at Las Vegas.
"There was no damage whatsoever," team owner John Cohen said. "Nothing was taken off the car. Even the antennas that went to the radio were still in the seats."
Police in Gwinnett County northeast of Atlanta received a suspicious vehicle call at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, nearly 24 hours after the race car was stolen, said Jeffery Richter, the public information officer. A motorist spotted the No. 44 machine along a darkened road and quickly realized it must be the stolen race car.
Cohen was called to the scene, confirmed it was his $250,000 race car off the shoulder of the road, and called a tow truck to take it back to their shop in suburban Charlotte.
"It was backwoods," Cohen said. "There were no lights around. [The thieves] made sure no one could see them while they were getting rid of the car."
While the truck and trailer that were hauling the race car weren't found at the scene, the truck was spotted a few hours later in Stockbridge, Ga., not far from the hotel where the theft took place, said Morrow police.
There was still no sign of the trailer and its other contents, which included a spare engine valued at $100,000 and racing equipment valued at $17,500.
• Kevin Harvick turned in another dominating performance Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, holding off Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano in the Xfinity Series race. Harvick has won the Atlanta race in NASCAR's second-tier series three years in a row and four times overall. Logano has been the runner-up the last two years.
• Matt Crafton romped to an easy win in the NASCAR Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Crafton, the two-time defending series champion, took over the lead on lap 59 and pulled away from there, setting the pace on the final 72 trips around the 1.54-mile trioval to win by a commanding 8.752 seconds.