NASCAR fought hard to bring fans dirt track racing action from Thunder Valley, but was it all worth it?
NASCAR ran their first Cup Series race on dirt in 50 years over the weekend, and it was certainly something to remember. While not all of that was a good thing, especially with a two-day delay, changing rules mid-race, and visibility being near zero, NASCAR President Steve O'Donnell still defended the event.
What did NASCAR President Steve O'Donnell say?
“When you think of the challenge of coming into this weekend just to race on dirt, how much went into that, but then you add on the fact that we experienced flooding, hail, a day race with unbelievable sunshine, and more laps with a Truck and a Cup race then you’d ever put on a racetrack normally if you were conducting a dirt event,” O’Donnell said.
In fact, one might even be able to call this a victory for NASCAR, and a sign of more dirt races to come! There were three wide passes for the lead, some pretty big wrecks, and some of the most intense racing seen in a while.
“Certainly (we) learned several things throughout the race and the week that we can apply as we go forward in 2022, but all in all, I’d give it a thumbs up with some things to learn," O'Donnell added. "The fans had asked us for years to look at innovation around the schedule. In fact, we’ve been taking to task for not making some moves, and we were bold and aggressive this year, and I’m proud of the team for doing that. I’m proud of the industry for taking a chance here.”
Although NASCAR has decided to run another dirt event again in 2022, they have stayed mum on which series will be joining them at Bristol. Now, one would think the Truck Series would get the nod again due to their history with dirt track racing since Eldora, but there is also an argument to be made for the Xfinity Series as well.
In all honesty, the goal should be to implement this type of race into every NASCAR series and try to build upon that. Maybe not an equal number of dirt races in each series, but at least let each of them visit a dirt track once to keep it equal.
In the end, the dirt racing at Bristol was very much a mixed bag. It got delayed several times, the track had to be repaired multiple times and NASCAR dropped rules at random, but it was also fun to watch. Maybe not for everyone, but it was interesting enough to warrant a date for 2022.