Five Reasons To Already Be Excited About 2017!
Sure, our 2017 race weekend still seems like it's a long way off. But even though there is a lot of time between now and the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Weekend, March 3-5, 2017, here are five reasons to already be excited about NASCAR's return to Atlanta!
No, getting around Atlanta Motor Speedway isn't easy. But as the old saying goes, "If it was easy, anybody could do it."
In fact, there's a direct correlation between the top drivers in NASCAR and the winners list at Atlanta Motor Speedway! Of the drivers to win the past 10 races in NASCAR's top division at Atlanta, all but two are NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions.
Racing at AMS is not for the novice driver. Its aged surface grinds up tires and makes cars tough to handle, putting racing more in the hands of the drivers than the cars and forcing them to physically fight not only the car, but the track itself for 500 miles.
"You had to drive the cars," Dale Earnhardt, Jr. said after last year's race. "The cars were a real challenge, and I had a great time inside of the car and enjoyed driving it. It reminded me a lot of the 80s and 90s, the good ol' days. But I never drove in those days, but it sure looked fun."
Who'll Stop the 48?
Coincidental or not, Atlanta's NASCAR weekend being the second one of the season has benefited Jimmie Johnson in big way.
The driver of the No. 48 car has won the past two Atlanta races and now leads all active drivers with five wins at AMS, but the pair of wins in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 were remarkably different. While he worked his way up slowly from starting 37th in 2015, Johnson in 2016 led for the first time 80 laps into the race before claiming the top spot for the final 45 circuits.
"We had some real magic here for a long time, and then we kind of lost it. So until our win last year, I was like, where did it go? I wished it would come back," Johnson said following this year's race. "And then we figured it out last year, and then again, had a not-so-good qualifying effort which had me a little worried, and then race practice started and we were right where we needed to be and then had a great race. I guess more than anything I'm starting to build the confidence back about this racetrack."
Home Race For Chase
Just ask fans of Bill Elliott or almost anybody associated with the No. 9 team during its heyday in the 1980s: There are few races more important for the Elliott fan base than when NASCAR comes to Atlanta.
Now, with Chase Elliott continuing to impress early in his career, the 2017 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 figures to be an attractive race for not only Elliott, but other drivers racing in their home state, like David Ragan and Reed Sorenson.
Like Tony Stewart at Indianapolis, few things as a driver mean more than winning close to home, and the storyline of Elliott seeking a win in the Peach State will be one of watch here in 2017.
Elliott's eighth-place finish here was his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series top-ten finish.
"It's definitely special to be here at Atlanta and have a strong run," Elliott told media after this year's race. "I'm very happy about that, and definitely a very special feeling to walk out before the race and to see the support in the stands of a lot of people that are close to - this is close to home for me and a lot of people around here supporting our race team, so that was really cool."
Two races in one day!
Know what's better than a tripleheader weekend? Try having two of those races in the same day! For the third year in a row, we'll host a doubleheader on Saturday of race weekend. That means two races for one ticket! That's hard to beat!
After morning practice sessions for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, it'll be time for 250 miles of NASCAR XFINITY Series, an event Kyle Busch won this year to cross off victories in all three NASCAR series in Atlanta during his career.
Then, it'll be time for the Active Pest Control 200 Camping World Truck Series race. Matt Crafton called his win here two years ago, one of his career highlights given Atlanta's history. John Hunter Nemechek's win of a wild race here earlier this year and his father, Joe Nemechek in victory lane was a popular sight for fans! We can't wait to see who'll claim the spotlight on doubleheader Saturday in 2017!
A Classic Southern Weekend!
"Classic Southern" isn't just a slogan. At Atlanta Motor Speedway, it's a celebration of racing on a legendary track and our way of welcoming our fans here with some good old fashioned southern hospitality! And yes, that includes food items with a southern twist, like this past year's Georgia Peanut Butter & Jelly milkshake!
It'll once again be an honor to host all of our fans, new and old, to camp, tailgate, watch the race or just simply enjoy being at the track in 2017!
We cannot wait to have you here with us again for another great Atlanta race weekend!