Kurt Busch Going Back to Burn Rubber at New-Look Atlanta Motor Speedway

Kurt Busch battled his brother, Kyle, for first place at the old Atlanta Motor Speedway.

During the brothers’ fourth 1-2 NASCAR premier series finish, Kurt Busch continued his dominance at the former 1.5-mile track, claiming his fourth checkered flag during the Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart.

Considering the success he’s enjoyed at the speedway, Busch on Jan. 4 was among the interested parties at the reconfigured track for the start of a three-day tire test.

NASCAR national series drivers the first to hit the new Atlanta asphalt 

Cup Series drivers Ross Chastain, Brad Keselowski and Busch opened the session by sharing track space with peers from the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series. They were the first to race on the fresh pavement of the now 1.54-mile track. 

The Atlanta redesign is expected to bring faster speeds and more pack racing for the scheduled two events in 2022. Teams were expected to experiment with the 510-horsepower package, according to nascar.nbcsports.com

“Certainly a lot of hard work’s gone into the reconfiguration of the track,” NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell told nascar.com. “We got a little bit behind with some of the paving issues, but luckily the weather’s been really, really good for us in terms of getting the track ready for this next test. So, all three series will be there. We’ll spend one day where you’ll have Xfinity and Trucks on the track, same day, and then Cup, we’ll look at multiple days of testing as well.”

Kurt Busch: ‘What a battle on an old-school race track’ 

A view of the grandstands behind the flag stand during the running of the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 race on July 11, 2021, at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia | David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

According to respected motorsports journalist Bob Pockrass, most of the tire and Next Gen car testing sessions will be closed to the public and media. NASCAR is planning a brief media session on Jan. 6. 

With NASCAR switching to Next Gen cars in 2022, the spec cars are designed for racing on wider tires, which are designed to help organizations save money and make the machines more identical to each other. 

Atlanta Motor Speedway’s transformation started immediately after the July 11 race, which featured Busch vs. Busch. 

After nearly five months, the newly shaped speedway features 28-degree banking turns, four degrees steeper than before. The track also includes updated drainage technology and freshly poured asphalt. The speedway’s last major upgrade occurred in 1997.

The last time Busch left Atlanta, nascar.com reported he screamed to the crowd: “Hell yeah, we beat Kyle. What a battle on an old-school race track.” 

After Atlanta’s tire tests, NASCAR has two Next Gen sessions remaining

Before the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum on Feb. 6, two more Next Gen car tests are scheduled. Daytona International Speedway will host the new cars on Jan. 11-12 and Phoenix Raceway will conclude the tests on Jan. 25-26. 

Atlanta Motor Speedway will host NASCAR events on March 19-20 and July 9-10. NASCAR is using the three test sessions to get the setup right for the new track.

“So really with any new configuration, it’s making sure that the tire matches the car in terms of the aero package we put together and the engine’s also obviously part of that,” O’Donnell said. “So, making sure all those three are dialed in for the package that we want for Atlanta and then we’ll go race.”

When they do, Kurt Busch will again troll his brother.

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