by Jay Pennel / Hampton, GA
Motor Speedway was stolen from a Georgia hotel overnight.
A silver or gray Jeep Cherokee was seen leaving the hotel at the time of the theft, according to the police report.
The incident forced the team to withdraw from the race.
"While this is obviously a setback for this weekend, our plans remain to compete in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season," said team owner John Cohen. "We are working closely with the police in hopes that our truck, trailer and race car are safely returned."
The team's main hauler was at Atlanta Motor Speedway Friday morning, but the car and trailer were still missing. Due to Wednesday's winter weather, the team sent its main hauler to Atlanta, but the team was not finished preparing the car at the shop, according to the team's hauler driver. Once work on the primary car was completed, it was sent to Atlanta in a trailer pulled by a dually truck.
At 5:32 a.m. ET, the truck and trailer, with the car, were taken from the hotel parking lot. The team's hauler driver told FOXSports.com the theft was caught on camera. The team did not have a backup car as of Friday morning, and eventually informed NASCAR that it would be forced to withdraw from the race.
While Reed Sorenson piloted the Team Xtreme Racing Chevrolet to a 32nd-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500, Travis Kvapil was slated to drive the car this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"It's really bizarre," Kvapil said. "You can handle maybe getting a flat tire, or getting caught up in a wreck, or a blown engine, something that actually happens on the race track. Or you don't qualify, because you don't have enough speed. But to not even get a chance ... that's pretty disheartening."
A trailer with the red race car inside was hitched to a black 2004 Ford F-350 pickup truck parked outside a hotel in Morrow, Georgia, about 15 miles south of Atlanta and a short drive from the speedway, police said. Surveillance video showed the truck and trailer being driven out of the parking lot around 5:30 a.m., Morrow police Detective Sgt. Larry Oglesby said.