All three of NASCAR's top tiers will race over two days at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bucky Doren gets you 'Race Ready' as he looks at the new aero package, his spin on the Stewart-Haas leaving Chevrolet deal, and more news & notes.

On Saturday (Feb. 27, 2016), it's a double-header of NASCAR racing at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. The NASCAR XFINTY Series kicks of the two-for-one day of racing. The green flag waves at 12:30 PM-CT. The NASCAR Camping World Series follows with a 3:00 PM-CT start. The NSCS start their race on Sunday at 12:00 PM-CT.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Next Race: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, Feb. 28
The Time: 12:00 PM-CT
TV: FOX, 11:30 AM-CT
Distance: 500.5 miles (325 laps)

Next Race: Heads Up Georgia 250
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, Feb. 27
The Time: 12:30 PM-CT
TV: FS1, 12:00 PM-CT
Distance: 251.02 miles (163 laps)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Great Clips 200
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, Feb. 27
The Time: 3:30 PM-CT
TV: FS1, 4:00 PM-CT
Distance: 200.2 miles (130 laps)

Courtesy of NASCAR

NASCAR Debuts Lower Downforce Aero Package At Atlanta:
This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will debut its lower downforce 2016 aerodynamics package.  The package is similar to the ones used at Kentucky and Darlington last year.

I'm in favor of lowering the downforce on a cars. It puts a brighter spotlight on driver talent. A race dominated by driver skill is much more entertaining to watch, It creates the potential for more passing. Pit strategy and adjusts also should become more of a factor as well.

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.

Stewart-Haas Pulls the Ole Switch-A-Roo:
SHR dropped a bomb shell earlier this week that they will be making a switch from Chevrolet to Ford for the 2017 season. Let's breakdown their press release.

Tony Stewart said...

"I am proud of our association with Chevrolet as they helped build our organization into the team it is today. 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." - Tony Stewart, co-owner, Stewart-Haas Racing

Gene Haas said...

"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. 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." - Gene Haas, co-owner, Stewart-Haas Racing

Okay, my first thought was that this was driven 100-percent by money, and that's what I shared with those that blew up my phone when the news broke. Since then, I've spent a little more time reading those quotes, and I think I need to change my tune.

I appears to me that this move was more about status than about money. I'm not naive to think that money didn't play into it, but I get the feeling from the carefully orchestrated words that SHR didn't feel like they were a top Chevrolet team.

Let's examine the details. Their motors came from Hendrick Motorsports. I suspect that Hendrick Motorsports did not have a lot of open dialogue from Stewart and/or Haas about the motor itself. (This new partnership with Ford allows us to strengthen our position in the sport). That doesn't allow for much growth for SHR either (...this opportunity with Ford allows us to evolve while continuing to compete at the highest levels...),

Reading between the lines, I get the feeling that Ford, who is looking for a team to rest their hat on, is offering more than just a "here is a motor to use" program to them. In the end, both gain some clout from this deal.

So if you're upset that Kevin Harvick and his teammates will have a blue oval on their hood in 2017, maybe you should be mad at GM instead of SHR.

The Players in Atlanta:
Speaking of Stewart-Haas Racing, Kurt Busch will attempt to tie Jimmie Johnson for the active Atlanta Motor Speedway wins lead at four wins. It will be tough to defeat the defending event champion. Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson is chasing his own milestone win. With a win Sunday, he could tie Dale Earnhardt Sr. for seventh on the all-time wins list with 76 career victories.

No. 24 Chase Elliott (Getty Images)

Elliott To Make Rebound After Daytona:
I grew up as a Bill Elliott fan. I bought into the whole "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville" hype. So... naturally I've been pulled towards his son Chase Elliott.

First of all, I'd like to set the record straight that I do like to follow Chase simply because his first name is the same as my son's name, as he likes to tease me. It's because I like his swagger and driving style.

I was disappointed about his early exit during the 2016 Daytona 500, but that's racing. That being said, don't get me started on the whole "splitter versus grass in the infield" issue I have. Simply put, pave it.

The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate gets to try and make amends at his home track – Atlanta Motor Speedway.  He's made two NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at the 1.54-mile track, finishing fifth both times.

Digital Records:
Say what you want about NASCAR, the juggernaut continues to march forward. 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. I have to admit that I was even a part of that social chatter...

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