Atlanta was in dire need of a new pavement and underwent reconfiguration during the 2021 offseason. The banking angle was raised from 24 to 28 degrees, while the track width in the corners was reduced from 55 feet to 40 feet.
Although Atlanta is only 1.54 miles in length, the design changes altered the racing which the track produced to more in line of what is seen on the large superspeedways of Daytona and Talladega.
The Cup series’ inaugural race on the new design last spring showcased an impressive 46 lead changes among 20 different drivers, setting new records for the track.
Sunday night’s race was well on its way to a similar result. Although only 185 of 260 laps were completed before it was cut short by rain, there were 18 lead changes among 12 drivers.
The maneuvers on the racetrack were bold and the rescues from almost-catastrophe were even more remarkable. The only drawback was that, as anticipated, the fans desired to witness more of it.
Even Darrell Waltrip, a NASCAR Hall of Famer, described it as “the most exceptional I have ever witnessed!”
The winner, William Byron, had to overcome his share of adversity to return to the front of the field and then take the lead before the rain came.
His victory was even more impressive because he and his team, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports, were able to accomplish that in a race that didn’t go much further than halfway.
Byron expressed his excitement about the racing, stating that it was an incredible experience. He emphasized the importance of handling and the ability to drive the vehicles.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the initial phase. I managed to execute some strategic maneuvers in the lower section of the track, and with each turn, there was an exhilarating lift. The experience was distinct from races involving the previous generation of cars, as it was more tightly packed. Nevertheless, handling skills remained crucial, allowing drivers to execute bold and assertive maneuvers.”
Kyle Busch, who faced difficulties at the beginning of the race but managed to recover and secure a fifth-place finish, described the situation on the track as “unpredictable.”
“There are many things happening simultaneously – numerous lanes, various options, which is quite beneficial. Momentum is crucial in this situation,” he expressed. “If momentum is disrupted or an unexpected event occurs, it can set you back or impede your progress, causing you to be overwhelmed by a group of individuals.”
“So, the key is to minimize errors and reduce the chances of overlooking any while making strategic moves. It’s certainly a distinct game.”
“I wish we could have kept going. It seemed like we had more than just fifth place.”