Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Atlanta Changes Fine with Drivers; with New Rules Package, 'We Could Race Here Every Week,' Edwards Says

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Atlanta Changes Fine with Drivers; with New Rules Package, 'We Could Race Here Every Week,' Edwards Says

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble

HAMPTON, GA. | Atlanta Motor Speedway has the reputation as being one of the toughest tracks to drive. Added with new rules that make cars tougher to handle, Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 should be fast and treacherous.

And that's exactly why the drivers love it.

"The cars are really fun to drive with this new rules package," Paul Menard said. "They are sliding around. And it's Atlanta, and it's slick. And it's fast, and it's a lot of fun."

The 1.54-mile D-shaped oval has long, wide, sweeping turns. It also has a lot of bumps and worn out asphalt that chews up tires - each team in Sunday's race has been allotted 11 sets of tires for the 325-lap event.

NASCAR chopped two inches off the top of the rear spoiler to eliminate some downforce. It also reduced power by 125 horsepower.

The combination of the track, colder temperatures and new rules, however, actually created faster speeds compared to 2014.

"Every test we've ever been to when they slow them down on the straightaway, the speeds pick up in the center of the corner because you're not approaching the corner as fast. So I think the difference is probably 20 mph in a lot of these places in qualifying trim as to how fast you're approaching the corner," Kevin Harvick said.

Harvick won last year's pole at Atlanta with a fast lap of 190.398 mph. Joey Logano won the pole for Sunday's race with a lap of 194.683 mph.

"Even when you take away a little bit of power, we're making so much speed in the middle of the corner," driver Carl Edwards said. "It's really fast there. I think NASCAR is heading in the right direction by cutting the spoilers down. I think the farther we go in that direction, the better it's going to get."

Harvick was second-fastest in time trials Friday and first in speed during Saturday's final practice session. …

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