Atlanta to host first race of 2024 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs

Driver Aric Almirola (10) leads the start during the Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga.




Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Driver Aric Almirola (10) leads the start during the Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Atlanta Motor Speedway will play a major role when the NASCAR Cup Series crowns its 2024 champion - at the start and the finish.

NASCAR announced its 2024 schedule on Wednesday and Atlanta Motor Speedway will host two races, including the opening race of the playoffs. The Quaker State 400 will be run on Sunday, Sept. 8 at 3 p.m. This will be the first time AMS has hosted the opening race of the Cup Series playoffs.

Atlanta has not been a part of the NASCAR playoffs since 2008.

“For us to be that first race of the playoffs, to kick off 16 drivers’ hopes to win a NASCAR Cup Series championship is pretty special,” AMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Brandon Hutchison said.

It gets better for AMS. Atlanta will host two races again this year. The Ambetter Health 400 will be run on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. That is the second race of the NASCAR season, immediately after the Daytona 500.

“There is not a time in the entire NASCAR Cup Series season that there is more fervor around the sport,” Hutchison said. “We start with the Daytona 500. Everybody is talking about the sport. There are more eyeballs on NASCAR that first part of the season than the rest of a lot of the season.”

In addition to its NASCAR Cup Series events, AMS will also host a pair of Xfinity Series races and a Craftsman Truck Series event. The Fr8 208 and Raptor King of Tough 250 will both run on Saturday, Feb. 24. The Xfinity Series will be run on Saturday, Sept. 7.

Tickets for both race weekends at AMS are on sale now.

The Quaker State 400 moves off a July date, when the weather in Atlanta can be brutal for race fans. The Ambetter 400 moves up from its March date.

The recent repaving of Atlanta Motor Speedway played a major role in getting the race as a leg of the playoffs.

“We look at a number of things when we look at our schedule,” said Ben Kennedy, Senior Vice President of Racing and Development. “We look at what the fans think about the racing product and a lot of the markets they are from and coming to. We hear from a lot of our industry stakeholders - teams, drivers, broadcast partners, industry partners - and try to make the best decisions for the schedule. Ultimately, we want to see, frankly, how Atlanta played out after the repave. It was something completely new than we’ve seen before with a race track and to be able to see how that has played out over the last year or so, really validates that the racing product is really strong there.”

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