Needless to say, I am excited about this weekend as dirt track racing returns to the NASCAR Cup Series after more than a 50-year hiatus.
In leading up to Sunday’s Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Bristol Dirt Nationals are taking place all this week and will include several Cup drivers seeking to gain valuable track time and experience in preliminary races in preparation for the main event. The last NASCAR Cup race on dirt was Sept. 30, 1970 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. Richard Petty won a 200-lap race on the half-mile track. He earned $1,000. Petty was among one of five Hall of Famers in the 23-car field that day.
In the early days of stock car racing, competing on dirt tracks across the country were common place. If you look back in the record books of NASCAR, throughout the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, Petty was joined by many other noted drivers who won on dirt. They were iconic names like David Pearson, Buck Baker, Junior Johnson, Tim and Fonty Flock, Herb Thomas and Fireball Roberts, just to name a few.
Throughout the 1970s through the end of the 1990s, most drivers who made it to the NASCAR Cup level, got their initial start on dirt. Included were household names like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Allison.
Things have changed over the years, and much of the focus of young drivers has been on asphalt short tracks across the country. Thus, many drivers of today have very little experience at high speed on the granules of dirt. So, many of the NASCAR Cup Series noted names are looking for avenues to learn all they can in a quick fashion, like cramming for a test in school.
Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott are entered in the Super Late Model division at Bristol. The Super Late Models will run full shows Friday and Saturday and headline the Dirt Nationals. Saturday’s 60-lap feature will pay $50,000 to win. Larson, meanwhile, will also compete in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at BMS.
Austin Dillon, Corey LaJoie and Chris Buescher have already competed in a 604 Late Model Division race at Bristol, and Dillon won a feature race last week. LaJoie was sixth in that race after starting 20th in the 27-car field. Buescher and Cole Custer, who gained valuable experience in a Late Model race, have already got their first feeling of what it is like to wreck on Bristol dirt.
Joey Logano and Kyle Busch are competing in preliminary events on the BMS dirt. Other Cup drivers are preparing in different ways.
Brad Keselowski drove a crate Late Model recently at Cochran (GA) Motor Speedway. Kevin Harvick, Chase Briscoe, Ryan Newman, Bubba Wallace and Martin Truex, Jr. plan to compete in Saturday’s Truck race.
“I look at it as Bristol has been our worst track for the past couple years,” said Truex after his recent win at Phoenix Raceway. “Why the heck not lay down dirt and see what we can do? I think it’s going to be fun. New challenge, something different.”
Florida native Aric Almirola said he’s done some testing in a dirt modified while Erik Jones, who has experience in the Camping World Truck Series at Eldora in the past, is testing in a micro car at Millbridge Speedway (NC).
It’s going to be something to see.
In addition, as stated, the Camping World Trucks will also take to the high banks. An interesting note of interest will be to see driver Stewart Friesen and his wife, Jessica, who have raced together in dirt modified races over the years.
Jessica will attempt to make her Truck Series debut, joining Stewart, who has been a regular in the Camping World Truck Series for years. They could become the first husband and wife duo to compete in the same NASCAR national series race since Elton Sawyer and Patty Moise in the November 1988 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Again, something to see!
Let’s Look at Some Incredible Competition Highlights thus far in 2021.
The NASCAR Cup Series has produced five Busch Pole Award winners through the first six races of the 2021 season:
Hendrick Motorsports – Alex Bowman (Daytona 500, 191.826 mph), Chase Elliott (Daytona RC, Metric Qualifying), Kyle Larson (Phoenix, Metric Qualifying)
Joe Gibbs Racing – Denny Hamlin (Homestead-Miami, Metric Qualifying; Atlanta, Metric Qualifying)
Stewart-Haas Racing – Kevin Harvick (Las Vegas, Metric Qualifying)
The NASCAR Cup Series has produced six different race winners through the first six races of the 2021 season:
Front Row Motorsports – Michael McDowell (Daytona 500)
Joe Gibbs Racing – Christopher Bell (Daytona RC), Martin Truex Jr. (Phoenix)
Hendrick Motorsports – William Byron (Homestead-Miami), Kyle Larson (Las Vegas)
Team Penske – Ryan Blaney (Atlanta)
Lap Leaders: The average number of leaders through the first six races of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season is 9.3 – the most since 2015 (10.0)
Lead Changes: The average number of lead changes through the first six races of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season is 20.6 – the most since 2015 (22.0).
Coming Up at Homestead-Miami Speedway -
Homestead-Miami Speedway opens Pit Road to the public Friday, April 2 from 6:00 PM to 12:00 AM for the 1/8th Mile “Test & Tune” experience. Competition fee is $20 if purchased in advance, or $25 at the gate, for multiple runs. Spectator fee is $10 in advance, or $15 at the gate and kids 12 and under are free.
Concession options will be available for cashless purchase during the event.
To compete in Fast Lane Friday:
- $20 if purchased in advance online
- $25 if purchased at the gate
To come and watch Fast Lane Friday:
- $10 if purchased in advance online
- $15 if purchased at the gate
Contact us if you have questions!
- PHONE: 866.409.RACE (7223)
NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND
Saturday, March 27 at 8:00 PM (ET)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – Pinty’s Truck Race - at Bristol Motor Speedway
Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90/MRN
Sunday, March 28 at 3:30 PM (ET)
NASCAR Cup Series - Food City Dirt Race – at Bristol Motor Speedway
Tune In: FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90/MRN