Expect the unexpected for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (2 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The biggest and most talked about storyline for this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race will be the new rules package which will debut this week at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
But, before we pass judgment on the new package on Sunday evening, it’s best we give it some time. See, we’ve yet to see 40 Cup Series cars with this new package on the same race track at the same time. It would be irresponsible to gauge how the upcoming season is going to go after just one race.
We will have a good idea though at the end of March. See, over the next five races, we will see five completely different tracks.
Atlanta is a 1.54-mile track with a dogleg. The surface is 22 years old which gives drivers multiple lanes to race on. Also, this package will be a little different in that there aren’t any aeroducts being used. Those are used in a variety of ways, but this weekend’s will be used to cool brakes not for anything aerodynamic. Plus, Atlanta is a much older racing surface than others. That too can create maybe a little more tire fall off than other place.
That’s just the first race. The next race is on a newly paved 1.5-mile, D-Shaped oval in Las Vegas (March 3). Vegas, will race much differently than Atlanta. From there, it’s only a 1-mile track in Phoenix (March 10). Then, it’s to a wide, fast speed 2-mile track at Fontana (March 17). That track, like Atlanta, hasn’t been repaved either. Where it’s different than Atlanta though is that it’s much wider all the way around and will probably race a bit like Daytona and Talladega.
Then, it’s back east to the .526-mile Martinsville (VA) Speedway (March 24).
That’s why we have to reserve judgement until realistically after Martinsville or even the next race at Texas. The race at Texas will run similar to Atlanta in the fact that they’re shaped the same, but run a bit different in that the track was resurfaced a few years ago and has a bit more room in Turns 1 and 2. How much will the teams have learned from Atlanta and Fontana and make improvements for Texas?
That’s why heading into April, we will have a much better view on who will be the main contenders or not.