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After Years of Protest, Atlanta Motor Speedway Being Repaved and Reprofiled Ahead of 2022 Season

HAMPTON, GEORGIA – MARCH 21: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Toyota, lead the field on to start the the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 21, 2021 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

After multiple years of protesting from drivers, teams and fans to keep Atlanta Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports Inc (SMI) from repaving the facility, the track has finally elected to make a change, with the official announcement that the 1.54-mile oval would be repaved and reconfigured following this weekend’s events.

Following a long ten months of research, the reprofiling of Atlanta Motor Speedway will see the track’s current degree of banking increased four degrees to 28-degrees, the highest banking on any intermediate track that NASCAR’s National Series currently races at.

In addition to the banking increase, the track will also become more narrow, with an overall decrease in width from 55 feet to 40 feet. The track’s new width will measure 52 feet on the front stretch, 42 feet on the back stretch and 40 feet in the corners.

“As Atlanta’s racing surface has aged, we’ve challenged ourselves to reimagine what NASCAR racing at an intermediate track can be,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith. “With high banks in the turns, narrower width and new pavement technology, Atlanta will be unlike any other mile-and-a-half track on the circuit. It’s all new for ’22 and this will be specifically designed for close, competitive racing.”

The overhaul of the track is the latest measure of innovation from SMI, which has been responsible for redefining what was thought to be possible for NASCAR, through the implementation of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s “ROVAL”, Bristol Motor Speedway’s Dirt Track and NASCAR’s inaugural trip to Circuit of The America (COTA).

Construction on the speedway is scheduled to begin following this weeknd’s NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series events at Atlanta, which will serve as the final opportunity for drivers to slip and slide around the track’s abrasive surface. The new layout is set to make its debut in Spring 2022, in accordance with NASCAR’s Next Gen car.

“Our partners at Speedway Motorsports have reprofiled Atlanta Motor Speedway to optimize the racing with the Next Gen car, and early simulations suggest the racing will be closer and even more competitive,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. “From the Charlotte ROVAL™ to the Bristol Dirt Race and now a re-imagined Atlanta, Marcus Smith and his team continue to take bold, innovative steps to bring unique and exciting racing experiences to our fans.”

Utilizing iRacing, SMI has been able to test and verify multiple concepts for the future of Atlanta Motor Speedway using the world-class simulator, providing a virtual rendering of each concept, as well as key data on how NASCAR’s Next Gen car will perform at the reconfigured oval.

“Flexing the muscles of our virtual track-building capabilities to prototype Speedway Motorsport’s vision for Atlanta Motor Speedway has been a fun and exciting process,” said iRacing Executive Vice President and Executive Producer Steve Myers. “From one concept to the next, we’ve seen the future of AMS take shape; all without moving a shovel of dirt in the real world.”

The racing surface at Atlanta Motor Speedway is currently the oldest that the NASCAR Cup Series will visit this season, with the last repave happening 24 years ago, in 1997. Since then, the track has hosted 82 events across NASCAR’s top-three divisions, as well as numerous events in the ARCA Menards Series, NTT IndyCar Series, US Legends Cars and Bandoleros.

“Our operations staff has done everything possible to extend the life of our racing surface, and as a result fans have enjoyed some historic moments and fantastic finishes at Atlanta,” said AMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Brandon Hutchison. “While this asphalt cannot outlast Father Time, the memories of the great racing will last forever. NASCAR’s best will have one more chance to add to the legacy of this surface with a grand finale at the Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart on July 11.”

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