One of the oldest speedways in the country just got a facelift. The historic Atlanta Motor Speedway, home of this Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, will be an entirely different experience for NASCAR drivers than the track of last year.
Not only was the Atlanta Motor Speedway completely repaved, but the 1.54-mile oval was also redesigned, giving the track a new and improved layout. This revamp marks the first time the track has been altered since 1997.
The new Atlanta Speedway features a modified profile including steeper banking and width changes. Rather than the 24-degree turns of old, the Speedway now has 28-degree turns. The turns are also 40 feet wide instead of the previous width of 55 feet.
Additionally, the backstretch has been narrowed to 42 feet, but the dogleg front stretch is now a wider 61.5 feet. In an effort to increase the safety of the track, the runoff area on the front stretch is wider as well. Other safety upgrades include a repositioned SAFER barrier and catch fence on the final turn.
New Atlanta Motor Speedway Opens Door for Changes to NASCAR Drivers’ Speeds and Styles
The new and improved Atlanta Motor Speedway should provide a smoother experience for NASCAR drivers, but it could also change the typical speeds and styles seen in the race. During a tire test back in January of this year, cars were lapping the new track faster than at races on the old layout. While last year’s laps were run primarily in the 32-34 second range, drivers expect to break 30 seconds with their Next-Gen Cup Series cars.
23XI Racing owner and No. 11 driver, Denny Hamlin, gave his thoughts on the new Atlanta Motor Speedway. “I don’t know if we are going to be drafting,” said Hamlin. “I don’t think we are going to be tight-pack racing. It’s not going to be Daytona or Talladega, but are they going to be grouped together? How are you going to build your car? All of those things are going to be a question mark, and I have no clue what I’m going into.”
This year’s Cup Series cars will use the same Superspeedway package in Atlanta as they do in Daytona and Talladega. The Folds of Honor 500 will feature 7-inch spoilers and engines restricted to 510-520 hp. To put that into perspective, the typical engine package packs 670-680 hp.
The new Atlanta Motor Speedway makes predicting the race results a difficult task. However, the favorite to win the FOH 500 is currently Kyle Larson, who will have his work cut out for him with his 21 position start.