NASCAR Drivers Expecting a Wild Race at Atlanta Motor Speedway for Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

by Jonathan Howard
(Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

With a newly paved and reworked track, NASCAR drivers are expecting a lot of roughness in Atlanta this weekend. A 1.5-mile track that has been reworked to run like a tiny superspeedway means there are going to be fast cars and not a ton of tire wear and tear. However, that means that things could get messy.

New Track, New Cars, and a New Experience

  • Atlanta Motor Speedway has higher banking (24 to 28 degrees) and tighter corners (55 feet to 40) to make a more Superspeedway environment
  • In the practice runs, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had the fastest lap time (29.708)
  • Kyle Busch thinks there will be a lot of wrecks
  • Other NASCAR drivers have said similar things ahead of Atlanta’s race

There won’t be a qualifying round for Atlanta due to the weather. So, each driver was able to get to participate in a 50-minute practice run. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the quickest in a single lap with 29.708 seconds. However, Denny Hamlin had the fastest average time out of all drivers that drove at least 10 consecutive laps.

One thing for sure, Stenhouse Jr. and fellow driver Kyle Busch think that things are going to be wild.

Stenhouse said that his practice was, “kind of chaotic. I think some of the drivers are going to be worn out come Sunday with just how intense and on top of the car you have to be. But I think one mistake, you’re going to wipe out the whole field if it’s at the front. It’ll be kind of crazy to watch this.”

Busch had similar sentiments. “Cars bounce a little bit – they don’t always go straight, they move, so guys holding guys tight is going to be where we start to see some issues. As far as if everybody is going to like it, I guess we will see how many cars finish.”

They aren’t the only ones that have seen the changes and are excited, if not a bit intimidated, at what will come on race day. This is going to be very interesting indeed.

NASCAR Drivers Preview Potentially Chaotic Atlanta Motor Speedway

Of course, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Busch weren’t the only drivers that talked to the media about their new experience on the track. One driver that has seen the new pavement before this weekend is Kurt Busch. The driver of the No. 45 tested the Next Gen cars last season on the new Atlanta track.

“It’s a clean slate and the Next Gen car is a clean slate,” the driver said. “So, yesterday was a big day with excitement and anticipation for how the track would drive and how it would feel.

“And we’re doing all these [super]speedway-style adjustments at Atlanta Motor Speedway. At a track, we’ve never done those types of adjustments on. So, it’s a balance of learning the nuances and the newness to it.”

That sounds like a recipe for a great fan experience and a fun day of racing.