NASCAR: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Previews a ‘Battle’ in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Tomorrow’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Cup Series race poses a unique challenge for NASCAR drivers like Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The Atlanta Motor Speedway has been in the Cup Series has been in the rotation for decades. However, this year’s track only vaguely resembles the Speedway of the past.

Ahead of the 2022 season, the historic track got an extreme makeover. The updated Atlanta Motor Speedway features a variety of changes that have Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and other drivers speculating about what tomorrow’s race might look like.

Though the NASCAR Cup Series drivers have racing simulators that allow them to preview the tracks virtually, it’s never quite the same as the real-life experience. And because the Atlanta Motor Speedway is a brand new experience for the drivers, the practice laps threw some unexpected curveballs.

“For us, you know, we make some laps on the simulator and kind of had an idea of what the car’s gonna drive like, what the track was like,” Ricky Stenhouse Jr said. “And then, obviously when you got out there, you learned a lot more at a pretty high rate of speed. I didn’t think [the speeds] were gonna be as fast as they were, as far as a single speed there in the draft. But the cars drive pretty good.”

NASCAR Driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr Gives Folds of Honor 500 Predictions

No one knows exactly what tomorrow holds for NASCAR and its Cup Series drivers. That said, NASCAR veterans like Ricky Stenhouse Jr have seen enough races to make an educated guess, especially after getting a taste of the new track in the practice laps.

“It does get a little bit tight on entry, especially into turn three,” Stenhouse Jr said. “A lot of people kind of drift up off the bottom until you kind of catch more of the banking and kind of turn back down and drive off. Two wide is comfortable; center to corner, three wide’s not terrible? But the exit of turn two and the entry of turn three it’s really narrow on the backstretch, so it’ll be kind of tricky to see how that plays out.”

The No. 47 driver predicts that, if the practice laps are any indication, tomorrow’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is going to be all-out war. “Obviously, it was practice,” Stenhouse said. “So nobody was really trying to shove three wide or get too aggressive. But [the race] is gonna be a battle.”

“For us, I felt like our car was really fast and really good. I think when you get out front, you’re gonna be able to control the lanes a little bit easier than in a [track] like Daytona or Talladega.”