Though the Atlanta Motor Speedway has been part of the NASCAR lineup for over 60 years, it’s going to feel a little different for NASCAR’s finest during tomorrow’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Cup Series race. The fifth Cup Series race marks the first time Cup Series drivers will experience a transformed Atlanta Motor Speedway, which underwent an extensive redesign ahead of the 2022 season.
One of the changes to the track is a significant narrowing of both the turns and backstretch. And in NASCAR driver Kyle Busch’s mind, this alteration spells trouble for tomorrow’s race.
Though he believes wrecks would happen regardless, the No. 18 driver says that they’re more likely on the updated Atlanta Motor Speedway. “The narrower race track right now lends itself to some hairy moves and things like that,” Busch predicts. “You know, turning off into turn three when you’re running the bottom and you start to load up in the corner, your front end gets tight and you wash up the track and somebody in the middle is holding you down, holding you tight, you make contact, [and] cause a crash.”
Kyle Busch says New Atlanta is superspeedway racing but with a tighter radius.— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverRA) March 19, 2022
“Runs happen quicker, bigger.”
Busch says wrecks will happen as driver pinch each other down, but also down the frontstretch because of the bumps. pic.twitter.com/dSX4C8j4mH
“I feel like that’s where we’re gonna see a wreck,” the Joe Gibbs Racing driver concludes. “And then you might also see some down the front stretch too, just because it’s kind of rough down there, it’s really bumpy. The cars bounce a little bit, they don’t always continue to go straight, they move. So, guys holding guys tight is gonna be where we start to see some issues.”
If you look closely, you’ll see that Kyle Busch is wearing a Brexton Busch shirt. Does that name ring a bell? Brexton is Kyle Busch’s 6-year-old son, who’s already began his career as a race car driver in the Beginner Box Stock Division. Busch senior wore the shirt to the press conference so he would be ready to head over to Illinois where his young son is competing today.
Atlanta Motor Speedway Alterations Mentioned by NASCAR Driver Kyle Busch
Veteran NASCAR driver Kyle Busch has a point. The Atlanta Motor Speedway is considerably different than in previous years. This not only puts the drivers in unfamiliar territory but also brings a number of potentially unwelcome changes.
The first alteration to the historic Speedway was a complete repaving of the track. This is great news for NASCAR drivers, as it provides a smoother ride. The upgraded track also features a wider dogleg front stretch and runoff area, as well as a repositioned SAFER barrier and catch fence on the final turn.
The next changes, however, could make things a little tricky for drivers. First of all, the Atlanta Motor Speedway now features 28-degree turns rather than the 24-degree turns of the previous layout. The turns are also quite a bit narrower at 40 feet instead of the previous width of 55 feet. Finally, the backstretch was narrowed to 42 feet.