The 25-year-old, worn-out track surface gets revamped for 2022
The newly reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway looks to increase speeds and pack racing to be very similar to that of the superspeedway tracks at Daytona and Talladega.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, a three-time Cup race winner at Atlanta, holds the lead for most victories here than any other active driver in the series. He recently remarked how much different it will be this year with a revamped track and new race car as NASCAR has unveiled the all-new Next Gen car for 2022, the seventh generation car in the series. This will undoubtedly bring a new thought process with regards to NASCAR picks when predicting winners this week.
What makes the new surface so exciting?
Repaving a 40-feet wide, 1.54-mile race track takes quite a bit of material. In total, more than 17,000 tons of surfacing was used to bring the all-new Atlanta Motor Speedway to fruition.
This new technology will undoubtedly be the pavement system of the future to avoid rain delays, water pooling on the track, and weathering damage to the change of seasons during the year. The top layer, known as the open drainage layer (ODL), is a two-inch layer of porous asphalt allowing the water to immediately drain through down to the layer underneath. The second layer is a one-and-a-half-inch leveling layer where the rain water will drain down the banking of the track to the apron, where AMS has installed a track-length drainage system. The bottom level of the track is a two-inch surface mix that is the foundation of the track itself. That’s five-and-a-half inches of surfacing technology to make Atlanta Motor Speedway the track of the future.
Fans and drivers loved the old track. Why change it?
When Atlanta’s speedway went through its last reformation, it changed to a quad-oval format with a distance of 1.54 miles. The new track will remain the same length, but the banking of its turns has been increased from 24 degrees to 28 degrees and the track has been narrowed from 55-feet wide to 40-feet wide in the turns and has been repaved in a brand-new layering of asphalt. The width of the front straightaway still measures 52 feet in width and the back straight is 42 feet.
Atlanta Motor Speedway was last paved in 1997. Since then, the track became worn and the seams in the surface were separating and causing the track to come apart and cause water damage. Weather and age began to take its toll. With the heat on the track during the races, the surface would become more damaged and begin causing issues with the racing conditions. Winter conditions would allow water through the cracks in the surface and would freeze and further damage the track, requiring a lot of work on the track’s surface each spring..
With the new car, new track configuration, new asphalt, drivers will need to have a lot of patience as the weekend goes on to watch and learn from others as well as the Truck Series and the Xfinity Series to see what is working for lines on the track as well as the wear and tear on the cars.
After initial testing on the track in January, it was decided that the setup package for the new Next Gen cars will be the same setup as used for Daytona and Talladega, the superspeedways. The setup will decrease the horsepower of the engines to 510hp, down from the 670 seen at the shorter tracks. The downforce will also be increased and the rear spoiler will be increased to seven inches from four inches, the height used with the higher horsepower setup.