The oldest racing surface on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is being replaced as part of a reconfiguration of Atlanta Motor Speedway. The surface that hosted its last event Sunday, the Quaker State 400, had been in place since 1997.
Other changes to AMS will include a narrowing of the racing surface from 55 ft. to 40 ft. Specifically, the frontstretch will be narrowed to 52 ft., the backstretch to 42 ft. and all four turns to 40 ft.
Banking in the turns also will be increased by four degrees, from 24 degrees to 28 degrees, giving Atlanta the highest banking among intermediate tracks on the current Cup Series schedule. Banking on the straightaways will remain at five degrees.
“As Atlanta’s racing surface has aged, we’ve challenged ourselves to reimagine what NASCAR racing at an intermediate track can be,” Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith said.
“With high banks in the turns, narrower width and new pavement technology, Atlanta will be unlike any other mile-and-a-half track on the circuit. It’s all new for ’22 and this will be specifically designed for close, competitive racing.”
The project is a result of nearly a year of research that included iRacing simulation. But upon announcement of the project, some drivers, including Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson expressed disappointment in not being consulted.
“With all due respect, this same group [SMI] has reconfigured Texas, Kentucky, Bristol with 0 driver input,” Denny Hamlin [@DennyHamlin] tweeted. “One of those lost a race, other one we don’t race anymore, and last one we put dirt over it. But hey, what do the drivers know.”
Smith, though, disputes that claim. According to Smith, some drivers were consulted and both positive and negative feedback was received.