NASCAR rolled into Atlanta Motor Speedway prepared to start a brand new period of racing that’s shrouded in unknowns.
Will or not it’s racier? That is the purpose.
Will it make Sunday’s occasion at Atlanta thrilling? That continues to be to be seen.
THE BRAWL THAT CHANGED NASCAR
“We do not have that reply. I can let you know that it is going to be drastically completely different than what we now have executed earlier than,” mentioned Kevin Harvick, who routed the sphere to win final yr’s race.
“I might hate to invest on what the path of it will be and what we’re going to do as a result of we do not know. That’s good for everybody watching. We have now extra questions with zero solutions, truly.”
The competitors bundle for 2019 was not utilized in final week’s season-opening Daytona 500 and a model of it would debut Sunday on Atlanta’s abrasive 1.54-mile quad oval. The lower-horsepower, high-downforce and high-drag components is designed to gradual the vehicles, bunch them collectively and create a extra entertaining product.
However Atlanta is an anomaly in that its racing floor is likely one of the oldest within the collection and was final repaved in 1997. It’s tough and bumpy, rapidly eats away at tires and is usually a handful even for the veterans.
In easiest phrases, Sunday’s race could look nothing like how the bundle races the remainder of the season.
“This monitor is not like every other monitor, as everyone knows, with the floor and bumps and the character,” mentioned Jimmie Johnson, who leads all energetic drivers with 5 earlier wins at Atlanta.
“My focus has been to get drivability proper after which make velocity a secondary merchandise. We’ll see the way it all performs out. This bundle is so new to all of us.”
An early model of the bundle was utilized in final yr’s All-Star race to rave opinions from followers that prompted NASCAR to implement it for this season.
Roughly half the sphere examined the bundle final month at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the place NASCAR races subsequent week, and the venue that’s anticipated to be a more true indicator of what the competitors may seem like the remainder of the season.
It is made Atlanta a thriller as groups spent Friday making an attempt to determine find out how to assault the monitor with this competitors bundle.
“Sunday you will see that out, I suppose, if someone spanks the sphere,” mentioned Atlanta native Chase Elliott. “Till then, I’m actually unsure what we’re going to have. I am positive there may be going to be guys that get it higher than others to begin, however I believe as time goes, everyone goes to proceed to develop and make it higher and enhance their vehicles and their packages for these race tracks.
“I believe Atlanta, too, is a little bit completely different than another mile-and-a-half tracks we’re going to go to with the floor. I believe your automobile might be going to need to drive a little bit higher right here than it would at different locations.”
The sector Sunday shall be three drivers in need of the 40-car restrict, with Gaunt Brothers Racing the one staff with out one of many charters that ensures a spot within the area to come back from Daytona to Atlanta. Parker Kligerman, the NBC Sports activities reporter who’s making an attempt to get again right into a full-time experience, is again within the automobile after efficiently making final week’s Daytona 500.
The 37 vehicles is the bottom because the street course at Watkins Glen final August, however up one automobile from the sphere on the Atlanta race final February.
Corey LaJoie got here to Atlanta with bonus funding from Outdated Spice, which acquired a powerful return on its funding from its Daytona sponsorship that featured LaJoie’s total face on the hood of his automobile. Acorns, a web-based funding app, is making its NASCAR debut as sponsor for Ryan Newman and Bubba Wallace, driving for cash-strapped Richard Petty Motorsports, has a one-race deal at Atlanta with McDonalds.
Garrett Smithley, with three earlier Cup begins, is making his season debut within the automobile owned by new staff Spire Motorsports. Spire on the finish of final yr purchased the constitution held by defunct Furnishings Row Racing — and its one of the vital beneficial entrants within the collection. Furnishings Row gained the 2017 championship with Truex Jr. to rank that constitution, now owned by startup Spire, on the highest finish of the monetary payouts in NASCAR’s system.