After three weeks out west, NASCAR teams are finally returning to head east and just a little south of their home bases and get ready for a thrill at the revamped Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Last season, Atlanta introduced a new look that transformed the racing style of the 1.5 mile speedway into a miniature Daytona International Speedway and a Talladega Superspeedway. The track has been repaved, along with grades where the corners have been raised from 24 to 28 degrees. The width of the racing surface has been narrowed from 55 feet to 40 feet, creating more of a pack racing environment.
Get ready for the race ahead of Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400 (3pm ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with trends, notable moments and the weekend’s schedule.
RELATED: Atlanta Expected Results | Odds for Atlanta
HENDRICK PUNISHED 🚨
The biggest news coming to Atlanta this weekend is the L2 level penalty imposed on the Hendrick Motorsports camp.
The Nos. 5, 24, and 48 were all docked with 100 owner points as well as 10 playoff points (note: the No. 9 received no driver points as Josh Berry came on for the injured Chase Elliott). The penalties were due to unauthorized parts modifications at Phoenix Raceway. The #31 Chevrolet Kaulig Racing driven by Justin Haley was also penalized for the same issue.
After Phoenix, Alex Bowman was the leader of the standings, but with the penalty Bowman has dropped to 23rd place. Two-time 2023 winner William Byron dropped to 29th and Kyle Larson to 32nd.
RELATED: More on the Hendrick Motorsports penalty
TRENDS TO WATCH
— Chevrolet is targeting its fifth straight win to open 2023; Chevy was the last to accomplish this feat in 1995
— Chevrolet has won the last three races in Atlanta; Ford has won the last five races
— Toyota hasn’t won in Atlanta since 2013
– Martin Truex Jr. owns nine top 10s in the last 10 races in Atlanta
2001: Harvick wins his first Cup race in photo finish with Gordon | REGARD
2005: Carl Edwards defeated Jimmie Johnson to win the first cup | REGARD
2016: Johnson tied Earnhardt on the all-time win list | REGARD
2022: Byron wins first race in Atlanta reconfiguration | REGARD
Saturday March 18th
– 11:35am ET: Cup Qualifiers (FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Sunday March 19th
— 3 p.m. ET: Ambetter Health 400 (FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
MORE: Busy weekend schedule in Atlanta
RULE CHANGES/NOTES ABOUT THE GOODYEAR TIRE
There will be no practice weekends at Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway this season.
In the event of a lost wheel contained in the pit lane, the offending team will be assessed a drive-through penalty under green flag conditions. If the violation occurs during a caution period, the offending team will be restarted at the back of the field.
If the wheel comes off outside of the pit lane, the new rule guidelines impose a two-lap penalty as well as a two-race ban for two crew members. Each penalty is series specific: violations in one series do not affect the eligibility of those crew members to participate in other series.
After last Sunday’s race in Phoenix, competition officials issued the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, driven by Aric Almirola, with a safety violation for loss or separation of an improperly installed tire/wheel from the car (Sections 184.108.40.206 A&C). Crew members Ryan Mulder (front tire changer) and Sean Cotten (jack) were suspended for two races.
The teams use the same tire setup as in Daytona and Talladega.
RELATED: See rule changes for 2023
Fans can join the action all season long with NASCAR Fan Rewards, a free program that rewards fans for being in the action by watching races and playing NASCAR Fantasy.
Participation is free. Fans must be at least 18 years old to participate in the program.
Earn points by checking in to a race from home or at the track, setting your Fantasy Live lineup, making purchases from the NASCAR.com Store, and more. Points can be redeemed for race tickets, merchandise and VIP experiences at the track, including pace car rides and green flag waving in qualifying.
Do you want to manage a team and race to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live, open now. The free play allows you to choose your drivers each week and show off your Crew Chief instincts by subordinating a driver until the end of Stage 3, and there’s a $25,000 prize for the winner.
How to play: Fantasy Live | Start a team today!
ALSO ON NASCAR.COM
Get additional camera views by logging into NASCAR Drive, where a select number of in-car cameras are available each week – as well as a battle cam and a view from above.
NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement to the NASCAR Mobile App. During the race, log into the mobile app to receive polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more – and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.
Source : sports.yahoo.com