Atlanta Motor Speedway
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Since 1960, Atlanta has served as the site of some of NASCAR's greatest moments and most consequential races, all through two different iterations of track configuration. Now, the track takes on a third different shape as it writes a new chapter in its history.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to the southeast for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, the fifth race of the 2022 season and the first of two annual stops in Atlanta. After drivers came to know and love Atlanta's worn out asphalt, this weekend will mark the debut of not only an Atlanta track that has been repaved, but also reprofiled into something that resembles the track's traditional quad oval configuration -- changes that make for a new challenge entirely.

How to Watch the NASCAR Cup Series at Atlanta

  • Date: March 20
  • Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway - Hampton, Georgia
  • Time: 3 p.m. ET
  • TV: Fox
  • Stream: fuboTV (try for free)

What to Watch

  • After its asphalt reached a literal breaking point after nearly 25 years of wear and tear, Atlanta Motor Speedway got the pavers out and laid down brand new asphalt for the first time since 1997. And in doing so, they also made major alterations to the racetrack configuration itself.

    Atlanta Motor Speedway has been "reprofiled" for 2022 and beyond, with an increase in the track's banking matched by a widening and narrowing of the track's racing surface. The banking in the corners has been increased from 24 degrees to 28 degrees, and the width of the turns has been narrowed from 55 feet to 40 feet. The width of the back stretch racing surface has also been narrowed from 55 to 42 feet, while the front straightaway has had its racing surface expanded from 55 to 61 feet and six inches wide.

    The expectation is that this will create superspeedway-like racing at Atlanta, similar to what is seen at Daytona and Talladega but on a smaller scale. NASCAR is anticipating such conditions, as they have mandated the use of the high downforce aerodynamic package featured at Daytona and Talladega while also implementing other superspeedway elements such as a double yellow line rule.

  • Adding to the air of unpredictability surrounding Atlanta is the takeover of NASCAR's youth movement. A Cup Series record 10-straight races have been won by a driver under the age of 30, and two out of four checkered flags to start the 2022 season have been taken by a first-time winner. Last week, Chase Briscoe won at Phoenix in a 1-2-3 finish of drivers who had never won a Cup race before.

    With Briscoe and Austin Cindric having already broken through, there's a keen eye towards who will be next to visit Victory Lane for the first time. Ross Chastain is due, as he's finished third and second in the last two races. So is Tyler Reddick, who was third last week, has been runner-up three times in his career so far, and might have won at Fontana had it not been for a cut tire. Daniel Suarez also came close at Fontana, and others like Ty Dillon and Todd Gilliland have had solid starts to 2022.

  • Four races into the season, a sense of which teams are on top of the Next Gen car and which are not has started to develop. Hendrick Motorsports appears to have kept things up, Joe Gibbs Racing looks like they may have fallen behind, and Stewart-Haas Racing looks strong again after a down year in 2021. But arguably no organization has been more impressive so far than Trackhouse Racing.

    After expanding from one to two cars by purchasing the assets of Chip Ganassi Racing's NASCAR program, Trackhouse contended for the win in each race of NASCAR's west coast swing. Daniel Suarez almost won Fontana before losing the lead with two laps to go, while Ross Chastain led the most laps at Las Vegas and then ran second to Chase Briscoe last week at Phoenix. In only its second season, Trackhouse -- co-owned by former NASCAR driver Justin Marks and Grammy Award-winning artist Pitbull -- is quickly showing that they're for real, and perhaps building towards being a future powerhouse.

Pick to Win

(Odds via Caesars Sportsbook)

Joey Logano (+1000): With Atlanta's reprofiling presenting basically a new racetrack, and a lot of unknowns concerning exactly what the racing product will look like, it's difficult to project who should be strong and which driver has the best chance of visiting Victory Lane. The best guess anyone has is that Atlanta will be a "tweener" between a mile and a half track and a superspeedway, which should mean that racing in and managing the draft will be a determining factor.

If that ends up being the case, look for Logano to be a strong part of the equation. Logano's aggressive driving style on superspeedways, particularly his willingness to get to the front and throw blocks to stay there, should serve him well if the racing at Atlanta becomes anything like what is seen at Daytona and Talladega.