Atlanta Motor Speedway has produced some close finishes over the years, but the race at AMS back in March was the first race in the history of AMS where drivers raced together in a big pack – restrictor-plate style – from the green flag to the checkered flag. Thanks in part to a newly configured, repaved racetrack featuring a narrower racing groove and an extra four degrees of banking in the corners, the fifth outing of the NASCAR Cup Series season looked more like a race at Daytona or Talladega than one typically witnessed at Atlanta. Not only were the cars stuck together like glue, but 46 lead changes among 20 drivers, coupled with 11 cautions and several big wrecks, created quite the spectacle.
“It’s a regular superspeedway,” said Joey Logano, despite Atlanta being only 1.54 miles in length, far shorter than Daytona and Talladega. “We just keep crashing. What did you expect? It’s the same stuff. I guess it’s OK. I don’t know. We survived, but a lot of cars crashed, just like we would expect. You be the judge if it was entertaining or not. I don’t know. It’s a different type of racing.”
William Byron became the season’s fifth different race winner when the dust finally settled, but it was the new style of racing – more so than the driver who ultimately came out on top – that created the biggest buzz. And that will likely be the case again on Sunday when the Cup Series competes for the second time on this Atlanta layout and with this rules package. “It was so different,” Byron said. “It was difficult to manage the lead in the front and not have somebody get a run on you to easily pass you.”