Harrison Burton and the No. 21 DEX Imaging team are setting up for a superspeedway-style race this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The venerable intermediate-length track races like Daytona and Talladega since a 2021 reconfiguration that raised the banking in the turns and narrowed the straightaways.
That change to the track, one of the cornerstone speedways on the circuit having hosted its first race in 1960, has produced some results that have crew chief Brian Wilson hopeful for a strong weekend for his No. 21 team.
“The last time we visited Atlanta, it was a very successful weekend for Ford Performance,” Wilson said. “Eight of the top 10 qualifiers were in Fords, including the pole sitter, and our manufacturer was able to get the win as well.”
To tune the DEX Imaging Mustang for Sunday night’s Quaker State 400, Wilson is using data gathered at the two bigger superspeedways, Daytona and Talladega, as well as from the race at AMS back in March.
“As we prepare to head south this weekend, we’re studying all of our notes from superspeedway-style races from this year,” he said. “Often these races have been highlights for us, as we’ve led and raced up front often at Daytona and Talladega.
“Between Ford’s success at Atlanta and our super-speedway notebook, we have reason for optimism in our preparations.”
(Burton led nine laps at Daytona and 11 at Talladega this year.)
Wilson said the choice of tire compounds by Goodyear, the exclusive supplier for the Cup Series, is always a factor as is the weather at the track.
“The tire combination that Goodyear is bringing is the same as the first race in March,” he said “The main difference will be the hot July temperatures.
“This tire has proven to be durable enough to allow for two-tire and fuel-only calls. The question is will the hotter temps make the handling gain of four tires pay off in the long run.”
Those answers won’t come until Sunday night. There will be no practice for the Quaker State 400, as is the procedure for superspeedway races, and qualifying is set for Saturday at 5:45 p.m. Eastern Time.
Sunday’s 260-lap, 400-mile race is scheduled to get the green flag just after 7 p.m., with TV coverage on USA Network. Stage breaks are planned for Laps 60 and 160.