RACE #5 – ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY
With the three-race west coast swing in the books, NASCAR heads to Hampton, Georgia, where the 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway will be the host of all three NASCAR national touring series. While the Georgia venue has held a NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) event since July 1960, the race weekend will provide a variety of unknowns to teams.
Following the July 2021 event, Atlanta Motor Speedway underwent a reprofiling for the first time since 1997 when the track was reconfigured into a quad-oval layout. In addition to the complete repave, Atlanta also increased the banking from 24 to 28 degrees in the turns, making it the steepest intermediate-style track on the NASCAR schedule. The racing surface will also become narrower in overall width from 55 feet to 52 feet on the front stretch; 42 feet on the back stretch; and 40 feet in the turns.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) and NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) will go back-to-back on Saturday, March 19, with the doubleheader kicking off with the Chevrolet Silverado drivers taking on the NCWTS Fr8 208 at 2:30 p.m. ET. The 135-lap race marks the third race of the season for the NCWTS and the only appearance by the series at Atlanta Motor Speedway on its 23-race schedule. The series will see a familiar name in competition, with Team Chevy NCS driver Ross Chastain pulling a double-duty race weekend, piloting the No. 41 Niece Motorsports Silverado. The 29-year-old Florida native made his debut with Niece Motorsports in 2018; later having a career-best season with the team in 2019, including three wins and 19 top-10 finishes.
Round two of Saturday’s on-track action will be the NASCAR Xfinity Series Nalley Cars 250 at 5 p.m. ET. Coming off the second win of the season for the Camaro SS, Team Chevy drivers and teams look to keep the momentum going in the series’ fifth race of the 2022 season. The spring 2021 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway saw Justin Allgaier capture his first victory of the season, which secured the JR Motorsports driver’s spot into the NXS Playoff field.
The race weekend will be capped off with the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday, March 20, at 3 p.m. ET. Chevrolet drivers and teams will look to capture the third NCS victory of the season for the Camaro ZL1 in the 325-lap event. Chevrolet has made its way to victory lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway 41 times in NCS competition, the most of all manufacturers. The bowtie brand is the most recent winner at the Georgia venue after Kurt Busch and the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing team drove their Chevrolet-powered machine to victory lane in July 2021 after leading 144 of the 260-lap race.
Chevrolet will be pacing the field at Atlanta Motor Speedway, with the Camaro SS leading the field in all three events.
BRINGING MOMENTUM BACK TO THE EAST COAST
With the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season in full swing, the Camaro ZL1 is bringing its momentum back to the east coast after strong runs throughout the grueling three-race west coast stretch. Within those three points-paying races, the Camaro ZL1 captured back-to-back victories with Kyle Larson (Auto Club Speedway) and Alex Bowman (Las Vegas Motor Speedway), which also secured their spots in the 16-driver NCS Playoff field.
Within those three races, Team Chevy also scored an impressive 10 top-five’s and 15 top-10’s, including consecutive 1-2-3 finishes at Auto Club Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Six different Chevrolet teams were represented in those top-10 results, which is a testament of the strong collaborative effort between the GM NASCAR Competition Engineering Team and all of the Chevrolet race teams in developing the Next Gen Camaro ZL1.
Heading into the fifth-points paying race for the NASCAR Cup Series, two of the top-five spots in the driver points standings are occupied by Team Chevy drivers. 2020 NCS Champion, Chase Elliott, leads the bowtie brigade in the standings in third, just five-points behind the top spot. Reigning NCS Champion, Kyle Larson, heads into the Atlanta race weekend fourth in the standings on his quest to defend the coveted title.
· Chevrolet has recorded 41 wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the most of all manufacturers. In addition to its wins, Chevrolet has accrued 25 poles, 194 top-five’s, 389 top-10’s, and 13,139 laps led.
· Heading into the Atlanta race weekend, Chevrolet leads all manufacturers in NASCAR Cup Series top-five’s (10) and stage wins (5) thus far this season.
· Chevrolet team Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway with 14 victories among six drivers: Darrell Waltrip (1989), Ken Schrader (1991), Jeff Gordon (1995, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2011), Jerry Nadeau (2000), Jimmie Johnson (2004, 2007 sweep, 2015, 2016) and Kasey Kahne (2014).
· Four Team Chevy drivers have combined for five NASCAR Cup Series stage wins:
Tyler Reddick (Fontanax2)
Alex Bowman (Las Vegas)
Ross Chastain (Las Vegas)
William Byron (Phoenix)
· Ross Chastain has recorded two top-five finishes so far in 2022, including a runner-up finish at Phoenix Raceway to match his career-best in NASCAR Cup Series competition. Teammate Daniel Suarez finished ninth at Phoenix Raceway, making it the first time Trackhouse Racing has placed both cars in the top-10.
· With its 40 NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturer Championships; 33 NASCAR Cup Series Driver Championships; and 816 all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins, Chevrolet holds the title of winningest brand in NASCAR.
· With four races in the books for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Chevrolet leads in the manufacturer and driver points standings, with four Chevrolet drivers making up the top-five of the driver standings. In addition, the Camaro SS has gone to victory lane two times with Austin Hill (Daytona International Speedway) and Noah Gragson (Phoenix Raceway).
FOR THE FANS:
· Fans can visit the Team Chevy Racing Displays in the Fan Midway at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
· Fans can check out an assortment of Chevrolet vehicles at the Fan Midway including: Camaro ZL1, Corvette C8 Z51, Tahoe High Country, Blazer RS, Silverado Crew RST, Silverado HD LTZ, Traverse Redline Premiere.
· At the Chevrolet Display, fans can also view Kyle Larson’s No. 5 Camaro ZL1 show car.
TEAM CHEVY QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSIONS AT THE DISPLAY:
Friday, March 18
· Jesse Iwuji: 2:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
· Landon Cassill: 2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
· Noah Gragson: 2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
· Myatt Snider: 2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 19
· Brett Moffitt, Jeb Burton and Anthony Alfredo: 10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
· Austin Dillon: 10:55 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.
· Blaine Perkins: 11: 45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
· Grant Enfinger and Jack Wood: 12:00 p.m. – 12:15 p.m.
· Kris Wright: 12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.
· Sam Mayer: 1:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
· Josh Berry: 1:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
· Justin Allgaier: 2:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Sunday, March 20
· Ross Chastain: 11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
· Corey LaJoie: 12:00 p.m. – 12:15 p.m.
· Chase Elliott: 12:25 p.m. – 12:40 p.m.
· Justin Haley: 12:40 p.m. – 12:55 p.m.
Chevrolet Display Hours of Operation:
· Friday, March 18: 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
· Saturday, March 19: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
· Sunday, March 20: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
FOX will telecast the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at 3 p.m. ET Sunday, March 20. FS1 will telecast the NASCAR Xfinity Series Nalley Cars 250 at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 19. Live coverage of both events can also be found on PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fr8 208 will be broadcasted on FS1 at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 19. Live coverage of the 135-lap race can also be found on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 ADVENT HEALTH CAMARO ZL1
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE NEW AND IMPROVED 28 DEGREES OF BANKING AT ATLANTA?
"I was part of the Goodyear tire test. It’s like a superspeedway, it really is. The transitions are a little sharper than Daytona and Talladega, but its smooth enough and has enough grip to that we’ll be okay. It's Daytona minus a mile, they’re probably going to have to enforce a double yellow line. We will be entering the corners on the apron and re-merging like we saw back before the yellow double line at superspeedways."
WHEN YOU SAY ATLANTA IS KIND OF LIKE THE THIRD SUPERSPEEDWAY NOW, WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?
"It’s pretty crazy. It’s odd to see it in person because I know what Atlanta looks like in my brain. When I went out onto the track and it is narrower, and the apron is very wide, and they moved the frontstretch down by about 20 feet so you can short cut it on the flat. They’re probably going to have to do some sort of double yellow line rule if the same problems arise of the guys trying to re-merge and then crashing in the corners like at Talladega and Daytona.
Most of your superspeedway wrecks are at the end of the straightaway, down the back or down the front into turn 1 or turn 3. Big energy comes from eighth place up through the pack and someone towards the front gets turned. If you make it through, you have a chance to win. If there’s not a double yellow line, I think we will crash in the corners. I was able to tandem with three cars, back up to the guy behind me, the energy would push us up to the leader and stay on him for half of a lap. Now if I have more energy pushing me, I think I could stay on him longer. It’s Daytona minus a mile, but you do have to turn the wheel in the corner. Daytona you don’t turn the wheel, you just hold it. The frontstretch is flat at Atlanta, Daytona and Talladega have a little bit embankment."
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 BASS PRO SHOPS / TRACKER OFF ROAD CAMARO ZL1
ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY IS AN INTERMEDIATE TRACK DESIGNED TO RACE LIKE A SUPERSPEEDWAY. HOW DO YOU THINK THE NEXT GEN CAR WILL RACE THERE?
“I have no clue on this one, actually. I watched a couple laps of the test that they had, and I’ve heard people say that we’re going to be wide open and speedway racing on a mile and a half, and it’s gripped up. We’ll just have to see what that really is like. I just hope it’s not a train race because Atlanta Motor Speedway has been a great track in the past with the old, worn-out asphalt. Our best races have come from places that have ancient asphalt that tears up tires. It can be a great race, and it could be a race where we just try to make it through it. I’m assuming with it being speedway-style and handling is up, there’s going to be some aggressive driving and some blocks made, and there’s potential to wipe out a bunch of cars. We’ll just see how it works out.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
LARSON ON THE NEW TRACK CONFIGURATION PREPARATION:
“I haven’t been able to really prepare yet. We just got done with the West Coast swing and I did the Goodyear tire test at Darlington on Tuesday. I don’t know what to expect other than it’s going to be a lot narrower than before. We’ll definitely learn a lot during our practice on Friday.”
CLIFF DANIELS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
DANIELS ON SUPERSPEEDWAY-STYLE RACING AT ATLANTA:
“We’re looking heavily at what we learned at Daytona earlier this year, and there was a team test and wheel-force test in Atlanta since the repave. You can’t expect it to be like a normal intermediate track-type race. I don’t have a great feel for how practice on Friday is going to go. I don’t know if teams will do single-car runs or if there will be drafting packs. I think the race on Sunday will start out looking like a superspeedway race. But because of the tighter corner radius compared to Daytona and Talladega, there is going to be much more of a requirement for the car to handle well, and that could lead to the pack breaking up and it becoming more of an intermediate track race.”
TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 3CHI CAMARO ZL1
THIRD-PLACE FINISH AT PHOENIX LAST WEEKEND; CAME UP JUST A LITTLE BIT SHORT. HOW HAS THAT MOTIVATED YOU HEADING INTO A NEW RACE WEEKEND?
“It may not have been the win that we are working toward, but it was a really great day at Phoenix, and It was a lot of fun. It was a great feeling to claw back from the earlier hiccup in that race. Everyone on this No. 8 team just never gives up, never stops grinding. One miscue took us from second to 12th and we were able to rally back to the front because of how good our pit crew was and how fast our car was. That’s a nod to my team and the guys at the shop. To be battling for the win like that is even more motivation. We have continued to learn from every race and implement that to the next one. These cars are challenging to drive and it’s hard to know how hard you can push it sometimes, but it’s been a challenge that we’ve faced head on, and the results are showing it. The motivation has always been there, it just gets greater and greater each week, especially when you’re battling for a win. No one really knows what to expect this weekend so practice and qualifying will be crucial but I’m ready and excited for it.”
WITH THE NEW NEXT GEN CAR AND THE NEW CONFIGURATION AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY, HOW DO YOU THINK THE RACE ON SUNDAY WILL PLAY OUT?
“It’s a headscratcher for me. My understanding is that it’s going to be a completely new experience, not just from the old Atlanta but just the style of racing that we’ve ever had across any of the speedways before. It’s going to have the banking to hold you in the corners like a speedway, but you don’t have long straightaways. Especially at Atlanta, the corners have always been long there, carrying a lot of speed at that racetrack even as the old surface aged. I truly don’t know what it means. I don’t know if it’s going to feel and drive just like the old 550 package did, I don’t know if it will be a race like that. I don’t know if it’s going to be a true, straight up superspeedway race either. For us and where we’re at compared to the Fords and Toyotas, I’m really hoping it isn’t a superspeedway-type style of race even though we are operating with that horsepower package because we definitely can’t lock up as well, push as well, as the Toyotas and Fords can. Even at a place like Daytona, me and my teammate Austin Dillon were trying to do what the Fords were, and we about crashed four or five times. So, at a place like Atlanta, that will be even more challenging so it could be a very interesting race for us. I don’t know how it’s going to play out, but practice is 50 minutes, and it will really show us what the race will look like.”
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1
ELLIOTT ON THE START OF THE 2022 SEASON WITH THE NEW CAR:
“We haven’t lit the world on fire by any means, but we’ve had a couple strong runs. We were good out in California and pretty solid on Sunday in Phoenix. It’s been kind of hit or miss, unfortunately, but we’re learning a lot and we’re heading in a solid direction. We’ve been just trying to piece together the direction that we need to go, like a lot of people as we’re learning this car. I think everyone is questioning a little bit which way you need to go at some of these tracks. Once we all figure out what’s right, it’s going to become very difficult to be different. Everybody is working in such a tight box, probably a tighter box than ever, so you’re going to have to be really diligent and make sure you’re trying to fine tune those super-minute feelings and changes in the car to make a difference because it’s going to be hard to find them as time goes. It will be interesting to see how the season changes as we all get more time with this car.”
ELLIOTT ON THE CHANGES MADE TO ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY:
“I’ve told a lot of people I’m excited about it, and I actually am. I’m not sugar coating that. I think it has an opportunity to be something good. It was time for a change at Atlanta. I think that the track was fun for us drivers and it ran its course, and it was time to do something different, so I’m all for it. It’s an opportunity for a new era down there and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
NOAH GRAGSON, NO. 16 CHEVYLINERS.COM CAMARO ZL1
“I’m looking forward to my first race with Kaulig Racing this weekend and the opportunity I have with them to learn this new car. I don't really have too many expectations going into this weekend, as it will be a learning experience for everyone on the newly repaved surface. I think there will be challenges, but I’m staying open minded. I’m excited to keep building on what Kaulig Racing has already started.”
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1
BYRON ON MOVING ON FROM THE WEST COAST SWING TO ATLANTA:
“It’s nice for the team guys that the West Coast swing is over. They’ve been working especially hard. They’ve been working late hours in the shop and then with the time changes it made it even harder on them, but they also made sure we showed up with fast cars. It’s nice that we have this week to try to regroup some before Atlanta and be back on a normal schedule, especially with how much of a question this weekend will be. I don’t know what to expect of the reconfiguration. It’s a question mark at this point. If it races how we’re anticipating, I’m thinking it will be similar to a truck race at Michigan with how drafting will play a factor, but passing will be at a minimum. Thankfully, we’ll have a full practice session to get up to speed.”
RUDY FUGLE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1
FUGLE ON ADJUSTING TO HOW THE NEXT GEN CAR RACES:
“Everything is new. Last year with it being my first year in Cup and at Hendrick Motorsports, I could hold a pre-race meeting on a Wednesday and could pretty much predict what was going to happen on a Saturday or a Sunday depending on the weekend because everything was the same. You knew just about how the car was going to handle and how you were going to approach it. We could study what lane you would want to be in for the restarts. Do you want inside or outside if you’re in a certain position? We knew tire fall-off, which meant you knew how many times you were going to pit in each stage. We talked about all those things during the week. This year we can’t have those conversations at all until at least Saturday when have a little bit of information to go off of. Then the race starts and it all just changes so quickly. Everything you thought may happen doesn’t happen in most cases. We have to utilize all of the great engineering support we have from back at Hendrick Motorsports and also from Chevrolet to keep up with things as they go to make the best calls in the moment.”
JUSTIN HALEY, NO. 31 LEAFFILTER GUTTER PROTECTION CAMARO ZL1
“I’m excited to get to Atlanta, and I’m curious to see how the NextGen car handles there. Obviously, the big question mark is the repave and how our cars will handle there. We will have a long practice to get our No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Camaro ZL1 dialed in, so hopefully we are able to figure out what we need to continue being competitive like we have been so far this season.”
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1
BOWMAN ON HOW HE WILL PREPARE FOR THE NEW SURFACE AT ATLANTA:
“I think that the new surface is going to provide its own challenges. The old surface had a lot of character, and you could manipulate the race car around certain lines and bumps. I didn’t do the test there earlier this year, so I will have to go back and read through what the guys who tested there thought of the track. I know our team is going to work super hard to put us in the best position to go out and run well. We just have to be dialed in and use our time during practice the best we can to get ready for Sunday.”
GREG IVES, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1
IVES ON HOW THE REPAVE IMPACTS THE TEAM’S APPROACH TO ATLANTA:
“Atlanta has always been a fun racetrack to go to because you knew what to expect. There were always a lot of pit stops because of how much the tires wore off and you didn’t really have to worry about fuel mileage, you could run all over the racetrack. With the new configuration, there are a lot of question marks around the event. I still think it is going to be a fun racetrack to be at, but will it be speedway-style where you still have to focus on downforce? I am not sure. How much will the tires fall off? I don’t think it will be a lot, and now fuel strategy might come into play, but we won’t know until we get there. Add in the double-yellow-line rule and there are just a lot of unknowns, and hopefully the rain holds off so we can figure it all out on Friday.”
DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 COMMSCOPE CAMARO ZL1
ARE YOU READY FOR ATLANTA?
"Atlanta is going to be something totally different than what it has been. We will really rely on our teammate and the No. 1 crew about what to expect this weekend. I don't know what to expect, but it's going to be very, very interesting for sure."
IS CONFIDENCE GROWING AT TRACKHOUSE RACING?
"Very much. Three weeks now we have had cars to win the race. Ross has been really good the last two weeks. We have been pretty good as well. I am very proud of my team and this organization. Our win is coming soon."