“In the Know”
Atlanta Motor Speedway
As we approach the second Atlanta race of the season, this will mark the first time the NASCAR Cup Series has held two races at the facility since 2010. Atlanta is known for its’ abrasive surface that forces the drivers and teams to really focus on tire management. It’s last repave was in 1997, but just this week, Atlanta Motor Speedway announced a complete refiguration to include increasing the current 24-degree banking to 28-degrees, and an overall decrease in width from 55 feet to 40 feet. The new widths will be 52 feet on the front stretch, 42 feet on the back stretch and 40 feet in the turns. Construction will be begin after the July 11 race, with the new track making its’ debut in conjunction with NASCAR’s Next Gen car in 2022.
● Event: Atlanta 400 (Round 21 of 36)
● Time/Date: 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 11
● Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway
● Layout: 1.5-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 260 laps/400 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stages 1: 80 laps / Stage 2: 80 laps / Final Stage: 100 laps
● TV/Radio: NBCSN / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
What Our Drivers are Saying:
Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
We saw improvement in the 1.5-mile program when you won the All-Star Open at Texas. Do you think that will translate to Atlanta?
“We did find some solid speed at Texas and it was great to see improvement there after the year we have had. I hope a few things transfer over to Atlanta, but it’s such a worn-out track that you’re mostly managing tire fall-off. We had a lot of bad luck at the beginning of the season at tracks like Homestead and Vegas, so we didn’t get a chance to build a lot of notes there. I think we’re back on the right track and head to Atlanta with the most confidence we’ve had all year.”
Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Summer Road Trip Ford Mustang
Your track record at Atlanta is incredibly strong. Performing well at Atlanta means managing your tires and taking care of your racecar. How do you do that when you’re still trying to outrun 39 other drivers?
“Atlanta has one of the most unique track surfaces. There are things about Atlanta that you manipulate your car with, and a lot of that has to do with rhythm. There are a lot of bumps, and a lot of things that go with the bumps are the brake pedal and the gas pedal, and all of those things combine to make a good lap at Atlanta. It’s just a fun racetrack to drive and we’ve been fortunate to have success really every year that we’ve gone there since I’ve been at Stewart-Haas Racing. It’s just a good racetrack for us. I feel like we should’ve won every race that we’ve raced at Atlanta, but we haven’t one way or another, but we’ve been fortunate to win a couple.”
Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 14 One Cure Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
For the first time this season, you get to return to a track that you’ve already raced at in the Cup Series. What does that do for your confidence?
“I’m pretty excited. We weren’t exactly our best earlier this year at Atlanta. That was probably one of our worst tracks this year. But it’ll be nice to go and know the feel I need the car to have and to know what to expect when I go into turn one on lap one of the race. Having decent track position to start will also help, so I’m definitely looking forward to having another shot at it. It’s another one of my favorite tracks and I think we’ll be able to have a chance to come out with a good finish.”
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Code 3 Associates Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
You had a pretty good track record at Atlanta when you were full-time in the Xfinity Series. What do you like about the track?
“It has definitely been a pretty good track to me in the past. I think all of the worn-out racetracks have been good for me and are so fun to race. Being able to manage tire fall-off, and slipping and sliding around, and being able to do a lot of different things with the car. I’m looking forward to going back again. We’ve continued to learn a lot about the 550 horsepower package since we’ve started, so I think we can definitely capable of going there and having a strong run. Hopefully this is the week we can put it all together and have a strong run, compete for a top-10 and have a good finish. I think we’ve put a lot of work into it. We’ll see what happens this weekend.”
This will mark Almirola’s 12th NASCAR Cup Series start at the 1.5-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway oval. Almirola has two top-10 finishes, four top-15s in his previous 11 Atlanta starts, and he qualified on the pole and led 36 laps in 2019. He also has three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts there with a best finish of eighth, and three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts with a best finish of third.
Kevin Harvick has finished among the top-10 in 14 of his last 17 starts at Atlanta, a run that began with a seventh-place drive in March 2008. Harvick has three NASCAR Cup Series wins at Atlanta. His first at the track was the first of his career, and it came a little over 20 years ago on March 11, 2001. He has a series leading nine top-fives, the most top-10s, and has led a series-high 1,348 laps at Atlanta.
Chase Briscoe has three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Atlanta with a best finish of ninth in 2020. The native of Mitchell, Indiana, also made a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at the track in 2017, starting fourth and finishing 25th.
Sunday’s 400-mile race will be Cole Custer’s milestone 60th Cup Series start and his third at Atlanta. In his first Cup Series start there in June 2020, Custer posted a 19th-place finish. In three Atlanta starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Custer’s best was his most recent, when he qualified his No. 00 SHR Ford on the pole and finished second by .191 of a second to Christopher Bell in the February 2019 race. Custer finished 10th in his Atlanta Xfinity Series debut in 2017.
Of Special Interest
Be sure to check out our merch hauler at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend! If you can’t attend in person, you can shop anytime at store.stewarthaasracing.com