TRACK: Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.54 mile oval)
Sunday will mark the 114th race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Cup Series. This is one of the most historic tracks on the schedule with a lot of rich history. Atlanta though, is also a popular track on the schedule due to the aged surface. See, when the track was reconfigured for 1997 and beyond, they also repaved it then. That’s the last time the asphalt has been replaced. That stat makes this the third oldest surface in NASCAR trailing only Dover (1995) and Fontana (1996).
Some key trends are as follows.
- Ford has won every Cup race in Atlanta since 2017.
- Don’t look for much out of the Toyota camp. They’ve won just twice in the Peachtree state and have failed to reach victory lane there since 2014.
- Expect few cautions – we’ve had six or fewer for six straight races including five in each of the last four years.
- Starting spots matter – 4 of the last 5 started inside of the top 10 (Ryan Blaney started 10th back in the spring)
This isn’t your typical 1.5- mile either. It has a dogleg on the front stretch to make it most similar to the Texas Motor Speedway as well as the Charlotte Motor Speedway. But, while it may look similar to those two, it’s hard to compare in the sense that Texas has been repaved and the first and second corners vary from Atlanta.
I’d say Charlotte is the closest comparison in terms of shape but Darlington, Homestead and Fontana are the most closest in comparison in terms of how to setup the car to combat the aged surface. Fontana and Atlanta have two of the oldest racing surfaces in the sport today and Homestead is always abrasive on tries. That’s why for Atlanta, you have to compare this track to tracks with old surfaces and not other 1.5-milers.
In turn, it’s created a bumpy and aged track that produces high tire wear and multiple lanes to race in. Because of that, Atlanta has become one of the drivers’ favorite tracks to compete on.
The track was supposed to go through a repave a few years ago, but due to the drivers’ input, they decided to patch some of the cracks and holes instead of fully repave it.