NASCAR: What to expect from Atlanta's super new speedway
NASCAR's newest speedway is one of its oldest.
FILE-A view of the fresh asphalt on the frontstretch during the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear Tire Testing at the revamped Atlanta Motor Speedway on January 6, 2022 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The track at Atlanta Motor Speedway has been thoroughly redesigned since last July with a new layout designed to improve the racing at the 1.54-mile oval.
FILE-A view of the fresh asphalt on the frontstretch during NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear Tire Testing at the revamped Atlanta Motor Speedway on January 6, 2022 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The entire surface was torn up for the first time since 1997 and a new one laid down with a modified profile that includes steeper banking and changes to its width.
The turns are now set at 28 degrees, instead of 24 degrees, and drop from 55 feet wide to 40 feet wide. The backstretch has also been narrowed to 42 feet, but the dogleg front stretch is widened to 61.5-feet.
There's also a wider runoff area on the front stretch for safety and a repositioned SAFER barrier and catch fence on the final turn.
FILE-Ross Chastain, driver of the Trackhouse Racing ZL1 Chevrolet Camaro comes off Turn 4 during NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear Tire Testing at the revamped Atlanta Motor Speedway on January 6, 2022 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sp
During a tire test session at the track in January, cars were running laps below 31 seconds in the draft and drivers think they could break 30 seconds as they further improve their car setups. Last year's races Ryan Blaney and Kurt Busch were run mostly in the 32-34 second range.
"I don’t know if we are going to be drafting," Denny Hamlin told Fox Sports. "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 getting into."
FILE-JULY 9, 1961: The field takes the green flag for the start of the Festival 250 NASCAR Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Pontiacs of Fireball Roberts and David Pearson start from the pole and outside pole positions. (Photo by ISC Images &am
This year's new Next Gen Cup Series cars will use the same superspeedway package as Daytona and Talledega at Atlanta for the Folds of Honor 500 on March 20, which means 7-inch spoilers and engines restricted to 510 hp.
Although it remains very much a wild card with the new cars and track, Kyle Larson is the favorite to win, according to FOX Bet, followed by Ryan Blaney, Hamlin and Joey Logano.
The Folds of Honor 500 is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET on FOX and can also be watched on the Fox Sports app.