How do you follow-up a 500 mile race? With another 500 mile race of course, NASCAR at Atlanta Motor Speedway

2016 Feb 28 atlanta motor speedway logo

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
Atlanta Motor Speedway Distance: 500.5 miles (325 laps)
Sunday, Feb. 28 1 p.m. ET TV: FOX, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90

NASCAR XFINITY Series Heads Up Georgia 250
Atlanta Motor Speedway Distance: 251.02 miles (163 laps)
Saturday, Feb. 27 1:30 p.m. ET TV: FS1, 1 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Great Clips 200
Atlanta Motor Speedway Distance: 200.2 miles (130 laps)
Saturday, Feb. 27 4:30 p.m. ET TV: FS1, 4 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

2016 Feb 28 316325

Stewart-Haas Racing Switches to Ford in 2017

Team Will Field Ford Fusions in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Stewart-Haas Racing, winners of two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships and 30 point-paying races, will campaign Ford Fusions beginning in 2017. The four-car team will compete with Ford engines prepared by Roush Yates Engines.

“I am proud of our association with Chevrolet as they helped build our organization into the team it is today,” said Tony Stewart, co-owner, Stewart-Haas Racing. “This new partnership with Ford allows us to strengthen our position in the sport and ensure the long-term stability and success for everyone who is a part of Stewart-Haas Racing.”

“Motorsports is an extremely challenging environment where in order to maintain success you have to constantly innovate. It’s true in NASCAR and it’s true in business,” said Gene Haas, co-owner, Stewart-Haas Racing. “We’ve enjoyed great success with Chevrolet, but this opportunity with Ford allows us to evolve while continuing to compete at the highest levels of the sport.”

“From the very beginning of Stewart-Haas Racing we have fostered an environment of competitiveness, performance, teamwork and family,” said Brett Frood, team president. “This future partnership enables us to continue delivering across these silos and exceed our commitments to our fans, partners and employees.”

Ty Dillon To Take Seat For Stewart This Weekend

Ty Dillon will take the wheel of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in place of driver/owner Tony Stewart this weekend. He is also scheduled to pilot Stewart’s car at Phoenix and Auto Club. Brian Vickers will drive the No. 14 at Las Vegas.

Stewart-Haas Racing
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Daytona Drama: Hamlin Wins Great American Race By Closest Margin In Its History

Denny Hamlin provided viewers more drama in the closing moments of the Daytona 500 than fans have seen in the race’s history.

The No. 11 Toyota driver made a move from his fourth position with less than two laps remaining in Sunday’s Daytona 500, dove between Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr., then beat Truex to the start/finish line by 0.010 seconds – the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the history of The Great American Race.

NASCAR Debuts Lower Downforce Aero Package At Atlanta

This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will debut its much-anticipated lower downforce 2016 aerodynamics package. The package is similar to the ones used at Kentucky and Darlington last year.

Lowering the downforce on a car makes it harder to drive, which puts more emphasis on driver skill and increases the potential for more passing.

Changes to the car for this season’s aero package include reductions to:

– Spoiler – 2015: 6″ tall, 2016: 3.5″ tall

– Air coming over the top of the car hits the spoiler, which pushes the back of the car down. A shorter spoiler creates less downforce than a taller spoiler.

– Splitter – 2015: 2″ overhang, 2016: .25″ overhang

– The splitter “splits” air and forces it to accelerate under the car, creating a high-pressure zone above the splitter and a low-pressure zone underneath that sucks the car down. Shortening the splitter reduces downforce.

– Radiator Pan – 2015: 38″ wide, 2016: 33″ wide

– The radiator pan is a flat panel that extends behind the splitter and under the car, deflecting air to create more downforce. A narrower panel is less effective in deflecting air, which slows airflow and creates less downforce.

Hometown Hero: Elliott To Make Sprint Cup Debut At Atlanta

Following a disappointing Daytona 500 debut where he finished 37th from the pole due to an early race wreck, Sunoco Rookie of the Year Chase Elliott gets to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at his home track – Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The Dawsonville, Georgia native has made two NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at the 1.54-mile track, finishing fifth both times.

Elliott embarks on his Sprint Cup Series career hoping to one day surpass the winningest Georgians in NSCS history – his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott (44 wins), Jack Smith (21) and Fonty Flock (15).

Chasing Earnhardt: Johnson Readies To Repeat At Atlanta, Tie “The Intimidator”

By visiting Victory Lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, Jimmie Johnson would not only repeat at the track he won at last year, but tie Dale Earnhardt for seventh on the all-time wins list with 76 career victories.

The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion leads active drivers with four wins and 13 top fives at Atlanta. He also boasts series bests in average running position (9.0), driver rating (106.2) and average green flag speed (171.845 MPH) there. Additionally, Johnson boasts the second-best average finish among active competitors at Atlanta (10.1).

Joe Gibbs Racing Primed For Stellar Atlanta Showing

Joe Gibbs Racing started the 2016 season exactly how it finished the 2015 campaign – with a win, and a bunch of strong performances.

Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500, Kyle Busch finished third, Carl Edwards placed fifth and Matt Kenseth came in 14th despite leading 40 laps. Martin Truex Jr., of JGR technical partner Furniture Row Racing, finished runner-up.

Don’t expect JGR to slowdown in Atlanta. The organization excelled during the low downforce package races last year (Kentucky and Darlington) and gets to run a similar low downforce package this season beginning in the Peach State.

Last season, all four JGR driver finished in the top four at Kentucky: Busch (first), Hamlin (third), Edwards (fourth) and Kenseth (5th). At Darlington, three of them finished in the top 10: Edwards (first), Hamlin (third) and Busch (seventh).

Edwards is the top JGR driver at Atlanta. In 18 starts at the 1.54-mile track, he has three wins, nine top fives and 11 top 10s. His 100.4 driver rating there ranks second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Not far behind Edwards is Busch, who owns two wins, four top fives and five top 10s in 17 starts at Atlanta. He claims the fourth-best average finish (14.3) and seventh-best driver rating (92.8) there.

Kenseth has never won at Atlanta, but boasts the top average finish (8.6) and third-best driver rating (97.9) at the Georgia track.

Hamlin won at Atlanta in 2012 and has the fourth best driver rating (97.2) there.

2016 Daytona 500 Sets Record Social/Digital Consumption Numbers For NASCAR

In addition to the drama that played out on the race track, the 2016 Daytona 500 produced record social/digital consumption numbers for NASCAR. This year’s edition of The Great American Race generated the most NASCAR-related social conversation on any single day since the inception of the NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center (FMEC). It also set a record for most impressions generated in one day by NASCAR’s social channels, a 63% increase compared to last year’s Daytona 500.

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES

2016 Feb 27 316514

Sadler Strolls Into Atlanta As NASCAR XFINITY Standings Leader

New team, new year and a whole new chance to become a NASCAR XFINITY Series champion for series standings leader Elliott Sadler, after he kicked off 2016 by driving the JR Motorsports No. 1 Chevrolet to a top-five finish at Daytona.

Sadler joined JR Motorsports in the off-season, and in 2016 he is working with crew chief Kevin Meendering. In their first race together, the pair posted a fourth-place finish at Daytona – the highest finishing position for a championship contender. He is three points ahead of second-place Darrell Wallace Jr. and four points ahead of Sunoco Rookie candidate Brandon Jones in third. Sadler is
embarking on his 19th year in the series, but the veteran is focused on one thing – a title.

“I really feel comfortable where I am at,” Sadler said. “But as far as proving something? I just need to prove something to myself. Nobody has more fire looking at me than I do looking at myself. I have a little chip on my shoulder and I think every driver does. You want to win and you want to run up front.”

Sadler has made 10 series starts at Atlanta, posting one top five and five top 10s.

No Sophomore Slump Here: Wallace, Suárez Start 2016 Strong Two stars that picked up right where they left off last season are Roush Fenway Racing’s Darrell Wallace Jr. and Joe Gibbs Racing’s
Daniel Suárez. Both drivers used the draft to their advantage last weekend and produced solid finishes in the top 10 at the “World Center of Racing,” Daytona International Speedway.

Wallace, from Mobile, Alabama, is now second in the standings just three points back from Elliott Sadler. He finished sixth at Daytona; his best finish at the 2.5-mile facility.

Wallace, 22, has made one start at Atlanta, posting an 11th-place finish last season.

Suárez has also reached a career-best position in the points, currently fourth, just five points back from series standings leader Elliott Sadler and two points back from Wallace in second.

The No. 19 Arris Toyota driver is coming off a Sunoco Rookie of the Year-winning season for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015. This season, he jumpstarts his title hunt with a career-best finish at Daytona (eighth).

Suárez only has one start at Atlanta. He started 21st and finished 14th last season.

RCR’s Brandon Jones The Early Leader Of The Hot New 2016 Sunoco Rookie Class

Richard Childress Racing’s Brandon Jones gives the old cliché ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ a whole new meaning.

The 2016 Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate blew the doors off the competition this past weekend finishing seventh at Daytona – 16 spots ahead of the next best rookie candidate. He now holds a five-point lead in the 2016 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings over second-place BJ McLeod.

Jones’ career has been brief, but the kid can wheel a car. In six series starts, he has posted one top five and three top 10s. He
even led some laps at Kentucky last season where he finished fifth – his only start on a 1.54-mile track.

Jones, an Atlanta native, returns to his hometown for his first series start at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

2016 Feb 28 317431

Locked In: Sauter(iffic) Performance At Daytona Earns New GMS Driver Spot In Chase

Johnny Sauter made a mad dash past Ryan Truex to the lead as the caution flew on the final lap to win last Friday’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

The win came in Sauter’s first race for GMS Racing and was also his first victory since his triumph at Michigan on August 16, 2014.

Sauter’s checkered flag virtually guarantees him a spot in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase – a seven-race playoff at the end of the season similar to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Last season, Sauter went winless after logging at least one win in each of his previous six NCWTS campaigns.

Ryan Truex, who led 14 laps, finished a career-best second. Parker Kligerman (third), Brandon Brown (fourth) and Travis Kvapil (fifth) rounded out the top five. The 2003 NCWTS champion Kvapil logged his best finish since placing fourth at Daytona in 2012.

On The Throne: Crafton King Of Intermediate Tracks Matt Crafton is good at driving on 1.5-mile tracks – quite good. And that shouldn’t change this weekend, even if Atlanta is a bit longer at 1.54 miles.

In 16 of his last 17 starts at intermediate tracks, Crafton has finished 10th or better. Included in that stretch are six wins (2015: Atlanta, Kansas, Texas-1, Kentucky, Homestead; 2014: Texas-1) and three runner-ups (2014: Kansas, Charlotte, Chicagoland).

Crafton enters Saturday’s Great Clips 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1) as the defending race winner and the de facto favorite.

In 14 career starts at Atlanta, Crafton boasts one win, four top fives and eight top 10s. In his victory last year, he set the track record for greatest margin of victory (8.752).

Graduation: A Number Of Youngsters To Take First Intermediate Track Test At Atlanta

In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, drivers who are at least 16, but not 18 years of age yet, can only compete on ovals one mile or shorter, or on road courses.

Some of the younger series drivers raced on a superspeedway for the first time last week at Daytona. Now, they will be tested at an intermediate track (the hardest type of oval for a young driver to master) in Friday’s Great Clips 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

After last weeks effort at Daytona I would be watching for a good finish for Cameron Hayley in his Cabinets by Hayley Toyota.

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Graphics & Photos Courtesy of NASCAR

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