The NASCAR Xfinity Series is entering Atlanta for year two of the track’s superspeedway configuration. Can another surprise winner emerge?
Last weekend Sammy Smith surprised a lot of people and became a NASCAR Xfinity Series first-time winner in Phoenix. This weekend’s race in Atlanta could provide the same opportunity to drivers on its new superspeedway layout. The biggest challenge might be just making it to the end.
Austin Hill Vs. Everybody?
Superspeedway racing in the last few years has been dominated by two teams, Kaulig Racing and Richard Childress Racing. The Kaulig drivers have a history of working well at superspeedways so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them running 1-3. Track position will be crucial and the Kaulig cars have the organization to keep all four cars at the front. Richard Childress Racing has Austin Hill and that might be all they need. Hill has won two out of the last four superspeedway races as well as two of the four races from this season. He has the potential to be this year’s breakout Xfinity star if he can keep this pace up.
This will be the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ third trip to Atlanta since one of the driver’s favorite tracks became a high-banked superspeedway. All of the characteristics that drivers loved so much are now gone. What we have now is a freshly paved mini Daytona. Instead of drivers searching for grip throughout the corners, they’ll be pushing and side-drafting down the straightaways. Opinions on the new Atlanta configuration differ on which provides the better racing but with the new version, you can certainly count on a wild finish.
One new detail to the track this year will be the pit lane entry. The commitment cone will be placed on the turn 3 apron this year in an effort to avoid a major wreck if the entire field tries to pit off turn 4. Now cars will have to slow down on the backstretch and hold pit road speed all the way around turns 3 and 4. There weren’t any green flag stops in the race last year but this could be an interesting wrinkle.
Woah. Pitting at Atlanta will be interesting… pit road commitment line/speed line is on the apron on entry into T3. pic.twitter.com/kUi46322W6
— Anthony Alfredo (@anthonyalfredo) March 13, 2023
This is the third layout that Atlanta Motor Speedway has used since it began hosting NASCAR. The track opened as a traditional oval in 1960 then became a tri-oval in 1997 before it was repaved with higher banking two years ago.
Austin Hill has to be the favorite to win this race. He’s been the car to beat on superspeedways in the NASCAR Xfinity Series over the past year and I can’t see that changing this week. He even has the extra motivation of trying to win in his home state once again. If Hill can outrun the trio of Kaulig cars, I don’t see anyone that can beat him.
A dark horse to follow in Sammy Smith’s footsteps could be Sheldon Creed. He has a fast car as Austin Hill’s teammate, his only question will be making it to the end of the race. Creed can be very aggressive but that might be what it takes to get his first win.
How To Watch: RAPTOR King of Tough 250 (All times EST)
- Qualifying: Friday, March 17, 4:35 p.m. on FS1
- RAPTOR King of Tough 250: Saturday, March 18, 5 p.m. on FS1