It has been a long time since the NASCAR Cup Series raced on a dirt track. The last time was on Sept. 30, 1970, at North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, North Carolina. But on Sunday, 39 drivers will try to master the red clay put down on Bristol Motor Speedway for a first of its kind event.
NASCAR says it is getting back to its roots, although the Camping World Truck Series raced at Eldora Speedway as late as 2019. The success or failure of the Food City Dirt Race will determine if dirt racing will become a staple on the Premier Series schedule, or it will be another half-century if we see another again.
When NASCAR returns to Bristol on Sept. 18 for the final race in the Playoff Round of 16, the track will be back to its normal concrete surface. The 20,000 cubic yards of dirt is temporary. It will be used for two weeks by various racing bodies. The only other track that would be NASCAR ready for a dirt race in the immediate future would be Eldora. Otherwise, any future event would also have to be temporary.
Other than the track surface, there is a significant change. The NASCAR Food City Dirt Race will be 250 laps instead of its usual 500.
There have been 501 dirt Cup races in NASCAR's history, and Lee Petty is the all-time leader in victories with 43. Buck Baker is second with 42.
The NASCAR Cup Series has started the year with six different drivers capturing the checkered flag in six events. Last week at Atlanta, Ryan Blaney ran down a dominant Kyle Larson in the closing laps to keep him from being the first to win twice. This marked the eighth time a season has opened with no repeat winners. Should Bristol produce a seventh first-timer, it will be just the fifth time in NASCAR’s modern era (1972-present) that it has happened (1991, 2000, 2003, 2014).
Here is a look at the NASCAR Food City Dirt Race.
RACE: Number 7 of 36
WHAT: Food City Dirt Race
WHERE: Bristol Motor Speedway
WHEN: Sunday, Mar. 28 @ 3:30 p.m.
TV/RADIO: FOX / PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
TRACK SIZE: 0.533-mile dirt oval
FRONTSTRETCH / BACKSTRETCH: 650-feet
RACE LENGTH: 125 miles (250 laps)
STAGES: 75 / 150 / 250
WEATHER: Showers and thunderstorms. High 63F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 100%.
ODDS (From VegasInsider):
5/2 Kyle Larson
11/2 Christopher Bell
9/1 Chase Briscoe, Austin Dillon
FIRST RACE: Jul. 30, 1961 – Volunteer 500 (Race winner: Jack Smith)
OWNER: Speedway Motorsports
NICKNAMES: Thunder Valley, The Last Great Coliseum
NASCAR Food City Dirt Race Entry List (i – points ineligible)
00 Quin Houff StarCom Racing Chevrolet
1 Kurt Busch Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
2 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford
3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
5 Kyle Larson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
6 Ryan Newman Roush Fenway Racing Ford
7 Corey LaJoie Spire Motorsports Chevrolet
8 Tyler Reddick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
9 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
10 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
12 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford
14 Chase Briscoe Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
15 Chris Windom Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet
17 Chris Buescher Roush Fenway Racing Ford
18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
19 Martin Truex Jr Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
20 Christopher Bell Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
21 Matt DiBenedetto Wood Brothers Racing Ford
22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford
23 Bubba Wallace 23XI Racing Toyota
24 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
34 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford
37 Ryan Preece JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevrolet
38 Anthony Alfredo Front Row Motorsports Ford
41 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
42 Ross Chastain Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
43 Erik Jones Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet
47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet
48 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
51 Cody Ware (i) Petty Ware Racing Chevrolet
52 Josh Bilicki Rick Ware Racing Ford
53 JJ Yeley (i) Rick Ware Racing Ford
66 Mike Marlar Motorsports Business Management Ford
77 Stewart Friesen (i) Spire Motorsports Chevrolet
78 Shane Golobic Live Fast Motorsports Ford
96 Ty Dillon (i) Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota
99 Daniel Suarez TrackHouse Racing Chevrolet