HAMPTON — This time last year, things were looking a lot different for NASCAR as they visited Atlanta Motor Speedway.
A new race package was at the head of much of the talk and that is the case once more this year. Entering this year’s race — and many of the tours’ other mile-and-a-half tracks — the series has a new rules package once again.
For the aerodynamic aspect of the car, this year the spoiler is set to 8 inch by 61 inches with the front splitter overhanging an extra two inches. There is another 10.5 inches of wings at the end of the splitters as well.
The motors are officially smaller this year. There is 200 horsepower taken out for maximum output of just 550 horsepower with a 0.922-inch tapered spacer.
The lack of horsepower was on display earlier in the year when NASCAR tested the new package at AMS.
The test featured a number of drivers including Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, and a few other drivers were on hand to do an annual Goodyear Tire test at that time.
When it came down to the aero package, things were very simple back during that test for Blaney who got his first taste of what’s to come in the future.
“It’s nice to just feel the wheels package and horsepower,” Blaney said during the test. “It’s nice to feel the downforce that we have but things are just going to keep on getting better. I think it’s going to go back to that typical Atlanta where we make seven or eight laps and you’re lifting a decent amount and you’re sliding around. It’s nice to get data though and have a good baseline to work toward when we come back here.”
With previous racing packages, tire wear and falloff was always a point of emphasis at a mile and a half racing surfaces like Atlanta Motor Speedway. A slower field may mean tire wear won’t be an issue as much but drafting has been attributed to some tests as a big factor.
Drivers in the early season test had a chance to get a feel from the drafting aspect and see what varying lines they could run around the aged surface. The race at Atlanta this year could get exciting as drivers look for more real-estate to make those crucial passes.