Why has NASCAR changed the start time for Atlanta?

Quaker State 400, Atlanta Motor Speedway, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Quaker State 400, Atlanta Motor Speedway, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Unlike in 2021 and 2022, the summer NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway is a night race as opposed to a day race.

For the first time since the 2010 NASCAR Cup Series season, Atlanta Motor Speedway hosted two races in 2021, one in March and another in July. That was true again in 2022 following the track’s repave and reconfiguration, and it is true again in 2023.

However, this year’s 260-lap July race at the four-turn, 1.54-mile (2.478-kilometer) Hampton, Georgia oval is a night race instead of a day race, like it was in both 2021 and 2022.

The reason for the time change, which was announced before the 2023 season began, for this year’s Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart is the fact that daytime in Georgia is typically quite hot during this time of year, and NASCAR is experimenting with later start times to avoid running in the heat of the day.

Temperatures are set to drop significantly throughout tonight’s race, which will make the event a bit less taxing on drivers, crews, and fans.

NASCAR also made the Nashville Superspeedway race a night race for the same reason two Sundays ago.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola is set to start tonight’s race from the pole position behind the wheel of his No. 10 Ford.

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is currently offering fans an instant $200 just for signing up and betting $20, lists Almirola’s odds at +1500 to win the race.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott, the winner of last year’s July race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, is listed as the favorite at +850.

Make note of the fact that this race is also the first race of the season which is set to be broadcast live on USA Network. It will not be shown on NBC.

NBC’s portion of the broadcast schedule consists of 10 races on NBC and 10 on USA Network. USA Network is the NBCUniversal-owned network which took over as the alternative broadcast channel during NBC’s portion of the schedule last year following the shutdown of NBC Sports Network at the end of 2021.

NBC kicked off their television coverage of the 2023 season at Nashville Superspeedway two weeks ago. That race and last Sunday’s inaugural street race in Chicago, Illinois were shown live on NBC.

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Tonight’s race, which is set to be broadcast live from Atlanta Motor Speedway beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET, is the first of five consecutive races set to be shown live on USA Network as opposed to NBC. Be sure to begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!