After Atlanta Motor Speedway announced its upcoming reconfiguration, multiple drivers have spoken against the lack of consultation from the NASCAR executives.
Denny Hamlin was one of the first to criticize the changes which include substantial narrowing of the track and increase of banking from 24 to 28 degrees for the 2022 season.
Other drivers have followed in speaking against such changes. After his NASCAR Xfinity Series win at AMS, Kyle Busch said:
“I sure am glad to win the final Xfinity Series race on a real Atlanta racetrack, because the next one is just going to be a showpiece and it’s going to be shit.”
“If they’re going to narrow it up 15 feet, whatever it is, that’s the whole bottom groove. We’re not going to be able to run around here 3 wide. You’re going to be stuck at two wide. It’s going to be as wide as Darlington. So trying to run around here at 210 mph because if they don’t put plates on it, you’re going to be going way too fast.
“Just think about it. Everybody needs to just think. There ain’t nobody thinking. Brains for sale. Never used. Operating racetracks.”
Having tweeted about his disagreements, Hamlin elaborated on the issues which include lack of communication between Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) and the drivers.
“Each track operator has their own agenda,” explained Hamlin. “ISC and SMI, they do things a little bit differently. SMI is very fan, what do the fans want, we just want to do whatever it takes to make the fans happy and put on a great show for them. ISC is a little mix of competition. Where the disconnect is, is we just have to stop with the novelties. Be what we’re good at and let’s just do that. Why are we trying to reach outside of what NASCAR has always been about for a long time. Trans-Am is not as popular as us for a reason. We are big, heavy stock cars on ovals and we’re full contact, that’s why people strive and want to be in NASCAR. I hate that we’re going away from that through novelties.”
Hamlin added that drivers “deserve to have a seat at the table, whatever that table is.
Another driver to voice his concern about the changes is Joey Logano who said that the changes are made to make the racing more similar to the pack racing at Daytona and Talladega.
“Just the direction of where we’re going, I guess we’re wondering why more banking? What are we trying to achieve? I think that’s probably the question we’re all asking and wondering right now,” said Logano.
“It depends on what the car is like and what the Next Gen car is gonna be. What speeds are we gonna be carrying? What rules package are we gonna be bringing? I think all of those questions. As soon as you say repave and you add more banking, ok, we’re going more towards a Daytona type of racetrack. What does that mean for speed and what rules package are we gonna bring to the table.”
Kevin Harvick referred to previous SMI track reconfigurations that ended badly to criticize the decision made by SMI. He said that without having any driver’s opinion, SMI would only repeat the same mistakes.