CONCORD, N.C. – Hendrick Motorsports and the NASCAR Cup Series return to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend for the second race at the facility since the track was reprofiled and repaved ahead of this season.
The project increased the banking in the turns from 24 degrees to 28 degrees - giving it the steepest banking of any intermediate track on the circuit. The project also widened the front straight and shortened the backstretch. The changes and addition of the superspeedway-style aero package produced pack racing at the 1.5-mile circuit. The result was racing similar to what is seen at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
In the spring, William Byron conquered the Georgia circuit to earn his first win of the season. Hendrick Motorsports has been known to have speed with the superspeedway aero package with the most recent example of this speed coming at Talladega Superspeedway as all four drivers finished inside the top-15. Kyle Larson accounted for 32 laps led while Byron notched 38 circuits out front. Larson, who is the reigning Cup Series champion, has scored back-to-back top-five finishes on the season entering this weekend.
Alex Bowman has had back-to-back top-10 finishes in the last two superspeedway aero package races. Bowman and the No. 48 Ally Racing team will sport a special paint scheme this weekend, partnering with DC Comics and Milestone Media to champion the next generation of diverse comic book creators.
RELATED: Check out this week's paint schemes
Coming off a hard-fought race at Road America last weekend, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers remain in the top-10 in the Cup Series points standings. For current points leader and hometown hero Chase Elliott, Atlanta’s race adds an extra piece of excitement. With only 83 miles separating the Dawsonville Pool Room and the race track, Elliott will look to put on a show for the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS faithful, as they pack the grandstands this weekend in the Peach State.
Here is what you need to know to catch this weekend’s action.
WHAT TIME IS PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING?
There will not be practice for this weekend’s race, but qualifying coverage will begin at 11:35 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports App. USA Network will join in progress at noon ET. This weekend will see single car qualifying with the top 10 cars from the first round transferring to run for the pole in the final round.
All four Hendrick Motorsports cars will make their opening round lap in the latter half of qualifying. Byron will go 24th, Bowman will go 29th, Larson will be the 34th car out and Elliott will be the 36th and final car to take time in the first round.
WHAT TIME IS THE RACE?
The 400-mile Cup Series main event is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 10, and will be broadcast on USA Network.
CAN I LISTEN ON THE RADIO?
Both races will be on PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (channel 90).
CAN I STREAM ONLINE?
FIVE FAST FACTS HEADING INTO ATLANTA
Data courtesy of Racing Insights
1: Bowman is the only Cup Series driver to finish inside the top 10 in all four races on 1.5 mile tracks this season.
7: Hendrick Motorsports has had seven different drivers go to victory lane at Atlanta, the most of any team in the Cup Series. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson lead the way with five wins. Byron, Kasey Kahne, Jerry Nadeau, Ken Schrader and Darrell Waltrip each have won once at this track for the company.
11.759: Elliott’s pit crew is averaging this time on four tire pit stops, the second-fastest in the Cup Series.
14.78: Larson's average finish at Atlanta, which ranks fifth-best in the category among active drivers.
24: At 24 years, three months and 20 days, Byron’s Atlanta victory in March made him the fourth-youngest winner in the track’s history.