5 things to know about Atlanta Motor Speedway’s racing surface

NASCAR trucks driver Kyle Busch (No. 51) burns out after winning the Easy Care 200 Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007, at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton. (Pouya Dianat/AJC)
Caption
NASCAR trucks driver Kyle Busch (No. 51) burns out after winning the Easy Care 200 Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007, at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton. (Pouya Dianat/AJC)

Credit: AJC

The track surface at Atlanta Motor Speedway is perhaps the most worn in NASCAR — and the hardest on tires, producing slick racing conditions.

A plan to resurface the aged track was postponed in 2018. Track operators will now embark on a revolutionary repaving project following Sunday’s Quaker State 400 that also will alter the banking profile of the turns.

It’s the first major update to the Hampton, Ga., racing surface since it was reconfigured in 1997. Here’s some history:

Second-rate

In NASCAR, only Dover (Delaware) — an all-concrete track poured in 1995 — has an older racing surface than Atlanta. The Auto Club Speedway has an asphalt surface older than Atlanta, but the Fontana, Calif., track was removed from NASCAR’s schedule in 2021.

Not just NASCAR runs here

Sarah Fisher (No. 15) races next to Stevie Reeves (No. 19) during the IRL Midas 500 Classic July 15, 2000, at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton. (Sunny Sung/AJC)
Caption
Sarah Fisher (No. 15) races next to Stevie Reeves (No. 19) during the IRL Midas 500 Classic July 15, 2000, at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton. (Sunny Sung/AJC)

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

Since it was paved following the 1996 NASCAR season, the track has hosted on its 1.54-mile:

  • 38 NASCAR Cup Series races
  • 24 NASCAR XFINITY Series races
  • 20 NASCAR Truck series races
  • 10 ARCA Series races
  • 4 IndyCar Series races

The ‘Thunder Ring’

Chase Elliott, the son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, races the No. 9 car June 14, 2007, in a Legends and Bandolero race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)
Caption
Chase Elliott, the son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, races the No. 9 car June 14, 2007, in a Legends and Bandolero race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

Chase Elliott, the son of Hall of Famer Bill Elliott and last season’s Cup Series champion, raced Legends and Bandolero cars as a teenager on the quarter-mile “Thunder Ring” from 2007 to 2009.

The Dawsonville, Ga., native is still chasing his first win in Atlanta.

On the surface

Atlanta International Raceway, made its debut on July 31, 1960 (The Dixie 500, won by Fireball Roberts) as a 1.5-mile oval track.

In 1997, the grandstand was added and the start/finish line was moved from the west to the east side of the track. Two doglegs were added to the frontstretch to form a freshly paved 1.54-mile quad-oval, replacing the original oval.

Tire strategy

His crew races to change tires as Chase Elliott makes a pit stop during the Atlanta Motor Speedway Folds of Honor Quick Trip 500 on Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Hampton. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Caption
His crew races to change tires as Chase Elliott makes a pit stop during the Atlanta Motor Speedway Folds of Honor Quick Trip 500 on Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Hampton. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Tires have played a big role in Atlanta. Teams were limited to 13 sets of tires during March’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 race. At other tracks like Bristol (Tennessee), for example, teams are limited to eight race sets plus one set transferred from qualifying or practice.