As Speedweeks ended Sunday after the conclusion of the 61st running DAYTONA 500, Atlanta Motor Speedway is the next challenge. This means the 2019 rules package will finally be spectated on the track for its first regular season race. Although we will not see the complete package until Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a few weeks, the 1.54-mile oval will still be a test for many teams.
NASCAR announced during the offseason that it would be introducing a new package for the 2019 season and will be used in 17 of the 36 races on the schedule. The new regulations are designed to bolster competition with enhanced aerodynamic and engine configurations with the hopes of improving the racing on the track.
We already witnessed at the Las Vegas test late last month that the cars will be racing a lot closer in tracks that traditionally did not display that. Although testing at Las Vegas was helpful, there is a lot more that NASCAR and the race teams will be learning throughout the season.
The new rules may cause teams to focus on building race cars that can ultimately grab momentum from a car ahead instead of the days where engineers focused on being fast in single car runs because they would rarely run in packs at 1.5-mile ovals. But is this going to be an advantage for smaller teams?
“I think its going to have the field run closer together,” Corey LaJoie told POPULAR SPEED. “I don’t think you’re going to see the small teams just drive to the front like some people think. The cream is always going to rise to the top. The guys with the most resources, the wind tunnel time, and the best equipment are always going to be upfront, that’s just the way NASCAR works.
“I think it’s going to give you an allusion of better racing because there is going to be more cars on the lead lap and are closer together on the race track. I think the running order is going to be pretty similar to what we see now.”
The driver of the No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford Mustang will be running in this Sunday’s Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500. As he comes off an 18th place finish at Daytona, Old Spice announced it will sponsor the No. 32 car once again this upcoming weekend.
Although LaJoie wants to win races, the Concord, North Carolina driver is being realistic about his thoughts on the new rules package. Go Fas Racing is on running on limited resources and is still a few weeks away before they get going 100%.
“We’re just going to really settle in and see how this package works, whether where we stack up speed wise every week,” LaJoie said. “It’s hard saying not knowing where we are going to be body wise and that sort of stuff. We are pretty limited on cars, so we need to be conservative on what situation we put ourselves in and I don’t think we’re really going to be racing legitimately until probably Martinsville and we’re just going to try and get through and make sure the cars aren’t torn up and then start racing once we have a good inventory of cars built up.”
So much is in question when it comes to this upcoming weekend. Whether it is the weather or how the outcome of group qualifying will be is a mystery.
Atlanta has sort of some of a similar feel that the DAYTONA 500 had last weekend. Many were concerned that the bottom lane would be nearly dead for the Great American Race, but in fact, it turned out to be one of the most entertaining superspeedway events in the last decade.
As TV ratings boomed compared to last year’s race, will we have the same or similar outcome this weekend at Atlanta? We’ll just have to wait and see.
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