The Bristol dirt race is finally here! And as clear as day, we can hear it now, as Clint Bowyer shouts out…”It’s time for Bristol baby!”
For the first time since 1970, the NASCAR Cup Series is racing on dirt. This weekend, that dirt race is at Bristol Motor Speedway. So, let’s take a look at the history of NASCAR on dirt and what to expect on March 28th for the Cup Series.
This weekend at Bristol, the series is returning to its roots on dirt. In the inaugural 1949 season, eight races were on seven dirt tracks around Daytona Beach. Actually, the series ran 198 of their first 221 races on dirt tracks. Once the 60’s hit, NASCAR began building superspeedways and paving dirt tracks. Of course, the move to build new and pave old tracks led to fewer dirt races on the schedule. The last Cup Series dirt race was on September 30, 1970, at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, NC. The event was won by ‘The King,’ Richard Petty.
The Food City Dirt Race this Sunday will showcase the talent of some of the best racers on dirt in the Cup Series.
Christopher Bell has three victories in the Chili Bowl Nationals and a win in the NASCAR Truck Series Eldora Truck dirt race in 2015. The Chili Bowl Nationals are the Super Bowl of midget racing, and Bell has three wins from 2017-19.
Another player on the dirt is Kyle Larson. When he was suspended by NASCAR last April, Larson decided to return to his early career of dirt racing. The choice turned out to be a good one. Tearing it up on dirt in the World of Outlaws, racing sprint cars and midgets, Larson went on a 40+ winning streak. He is also a 2016 Truck Series winner on the Eldora dirt track and has two Chili Bowl wins in 2020 and ’21.
A few other Cup Series players on the dirt are Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ryan Newman, Tyler Reddick, Austin Dillon, Chase Briscoe, and Bubba Wallace.
Joining Bell and Larson as Eldora Truck Series winners are Austin Dillon in 2013, Bubba Wallace in 2014, and Chase Briscoe in 2018. These drivers are just some of the most recent winners on dirt. There may be more surprise players competing on Sunday.
Before the Cup Series race on Sunday, four 15-lap qualifying heat races will set the field for the main event. One highlight is that drivers have a chance to earn passing points in the heat races.
The NASCAR Truck Series is racing on Bristol dirt on Saturday. Previous Truck Series winners at Eldora are Matt Crafton in 2017 and Stewart Friesen in 2019. Both drivers are on the entry list for Saturday’s event. Other Truck Series dirt players are Hailie Deegan, Sheldon Creed, and Brett Moffitt. The Truck Series competes at another dirt track on July 9th at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa. The Knoxville race is the first-ever Truck Series race at the famed mid-west track.
NASCAR is promoting this season as ‘the best season ever.’ The drivers are delivering the hype with six different winners in the first six races this year. Bristol is next on the schedule and the door is wide open for another surprise or first-time winner. This weekend, fans and drivers alike are ready for whatever happens in on the dirt in the Thunder Valley. It’s time for Bristol baby!