MOORESVILLE, NC — This weekend, NASCAR heads to Atlanta, where cup drivers will vie for a win in the QuikTrip 500. This weekend also marks the official rollout of the controversial new rules package for 2019, which promises side-by-side racing and further reminder— as if the Daytona 500 wasn’t enough — that stockcar racing is a full-contact sport.
Here are three things to know about the QuikTrip 500 weekend in Atlanta:
What Makes Atlanta Motor Speedway Special
Watch the pit stops. Atlanta is a fast track with a weathered grit surface that is expected to chew through the drivers’ 12 sets of tires. “The combination yields high tire fall-off during a run, which lends itself to tire conservation and multiple pit strategies,” NASCAR said.
This race also marks the introduction of a new left-side tire by Goodyear.
It is also, apparently, the track where Carl Edwards first flipped for victory, according to FOX: NASCAR.
New this year is a new Cup series rules package aimed at ramping up competition among drivers for fans by making aerodynamic changes to the cars that reduce horsepower and speed and, consequently, keep them closer together on the track.
According to NASCAR officials, it’s a move to level the playing field and get back to the sport’s roots.
“We know we’ve got some of the brightest engineers in all of sports and what you see with the low-downforce package is a number of increased entry speeds at times, which makes it more difficult probably to produce a tire that has great wear that the drivers always ask for,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. “It makes it more of an emphasis on engineering and wind tunnels versus what we’re all about, and that’s the drivers and hard side-by-side racing.”
The new rules aren’t without controversy, however.
“NASCAR is hoping the horsepower reduction and aerodynamic modifications will create better racing by keeping cars closer together. However, several drivers have voiced their displeasure with the direction and believe their talents will be eroded by the potentially new style of racing,” Pete Pistone of Motor Racing Network said recently. “It will no doubt take at least a half dozen races to get a better understanding of what lies ahead.”
While the new rules could lead to on-track crashes, it could also highlight evasive maneuvering. Ryan Preece set the gold standard for the season Sunday during the Daytona 500, narrowly threading a massive pileup:
How To Watch
The QuikTrip 500 will broadcast on Fox on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m., concluding a weekend of track action. Here are schedule highlights:
Friday, February 22
Saturday, February 23
Sunday, February 24
What do you think about the new rules going into effect this season? Tell us is the comment section on Facebook!
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