Race Weekend Central

Choo Choo: Drivers’ Thoughts on Another Single-Filer at Atlanta

There are a lot of old (and new) songs out there about trains. Another could have been written on Saturday (Feb. 24) night in Atlanta.

Save for the fuel economy factor that reared its head in the closing lapse of the RAPTOR King of Tough 250, the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway was a one-trick pony.

Jesse Love led 157 laps before running out of fuel at the end and letting Austin Hill cruise to his second straight win (again). However, it was how the race got there that aggravated some drivers.

Any time a driver moved towards the bottom lane, they did it alone. Nobody could convince anyone to follow suit and push, and in the new age of AMS, no driver can go at it alone. It wasn’t for a lack of wanting, though.

Sam Mayer, who finished 11th, said he wanted to try the bottom, but no one else did.

“I wanted to [try the bottom] at some point,” Mayer said. “I think we tried it at the start of stage two, and it was no good. I don’t know if it was the handling or just the track wearing, but you just didn’t have enough ‘oomph’ to go.”

Those struggles weren’t limited to those outside the top five, either. Parker Retzlaff came home fifth, and spoke on his struggles with the bottom side of the “freshly reconfigured” AMS.

“[The momentum] was just up there today,” Retzlaff said. “With the banking, it’s just like superspeedway racing. You can’t get anything working on the bottom unless the top opens up or gets broken up.”

Even the race winner, Austin Hill, shared some frustrations after the race, saying that it was tough to pass and that if fans could have heard his radio, they would know how frustrated he was. Hill also said that he wasn’t surprised by the fact that the bottom lane diminished quickly.

“I noticed it in stage one,” Hill said. “… I learned a lot in stage one … I really hope when we come back here and it’s hotter that the race unfolds differently.”

Sheldon Creed echoed those sentiments as well. After his fourth-place finish, Creed expressed disappointment in how the racing unfolded.

“The package hasn’t changed,” he said. “Everybody’s probably getting better at learning how to set up for this. I think the track wore out a little bit, but I thought my car felt pretty good.”

The key question, though, was whether or not he thinks Atlanta should be a track that the series visits twice a year, and he didn’t hold back.

“Not when it’s like that,” Creed said. “Not when it’s like that, no. … If it’s going to be like that, where we’re just in a line and can’t pass unless someone goes with you, that’s boring in my opinion, but I don’t make the rules.”

Touche’, Sheldon. Touche’.

About the author

Tanner Marlar is a staff writer for On3 Sports' Maroon and White Daily covering Mississippi State Athletics, an AP Wire reporter, an award-winning sports columnist and talk show host and master's student at Mississippi State University. Soon, Tanner will be pursuing a PhD. in Communicative Research.

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Christopher

Stage points are at least partially to blame. It makes drivers/teams much more risk averse on drafting tracks; a 7th place stage finish is better than pulling out of line, falling to 20th and getting no stage points.

kb

Sad that Jesses Love did not win, Hill gets the spoils of someone else’s misfortune and the theft of their rightful place, again. IMO.

sdelfin

Hill alluded to the same thing I said in a comment a couple of days ago and I’ve said before then. Since the Atlanta reconfiguration and the switch to the restricted superspeedway rules, the summer races have been much better because of how slick the surface is. That has brought handling into play and has led to better racing in the last two seasons than the winter races. I was happy something finally happened before the end.

sb

Two races in a row now, watching cars go single file with little to no passing, unable to make it without a train behind them. Not the most compelling thing to watch. The redo at Atlanta hasn’t made for better racing at all.

Joshua Farmer

It was very good racing at first. Then the drivers figured out that they didn’t have to race side by side. The racing is as much a product of the drivers not taking risks as it is the track.

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