The Camping World Truck Series spent several years racing on the dirt at Eldora Speedway. For the first time in over 50 years, the Cup Series will take to the dirt for a race at Bristol Motor Speedway at the end of the month. The trucks will also be running on the dirt at Bristol in a Saturday night race.
While many of the races in the 2021 season will be set by NASCAR’s format that includes finishing order in a race, car owner points, and driver standings in lieu of a qualifying run. At Bristol for the dirt race, the Cup Series field will be set via a set of heat races. A new twist in the heat races will be the awarding of “passing points”, giving drivers extra points for the number of fellow drivers they pass during the heat.
The qualifying format for Bristol is throwback to the old dirt track traditions.
The field will be divided into four groups for 15 lap heat races with no overtime and only green flag laps will count.
Starting lineup for the heats will be set via random draw.
Race lineup will be determined by finishing points in the race plus any “passing points” earned. Winners earn 10 points with points descending by one for each successive finishing position. Drivers also earn one point for each car they pass during the heat. Team owner points will determine any tie breakers.
The format for pit stops during the dirt race at Bristol will vary from normal stops in that taking on fuel and changing tires will only be allowed during stage breaks; an exception will be made for cars involved in on track incidents. Pit stops will be “controlled” and a “race off of pit road” will not be necessary.
However, teams will not be required to make pit stops during stage breaks. While the track will be covered in dirt, pit road and the pit stalls will remain concrete.
With stages one and two at 75 laps and stage three 100 laps in the Cup race and laps of 40, 50, and 60 laps for the truck series; the teams can run a stage on a single load of fuel.
Teams will have a practice session on Friday with all of the heat races set for Saturday. The Truck Series will race on Saturday night and the Cup Series will race on Sunday afternoon.
The “choose rule” which came into effect last season allowing drivers to decide whether they want to restart the race on the inside or outside lanes will not be in place for the dirt race. The “choose rule” is not used on dirt tracks or at the super speedways at Daytona and Talladega.
The Truck Series will return to dirt track racing on July 9 at Knoxville Speedway.
With the dirt track race at Bristol Motor Speedway less than a month away, preparations and trucks filled with dirt continue at the .533 mile track known as Thunder Valley. To date, there have been over 20,000 cubic yards of dirt delivered to the normally concrete track. Current NASCAR Cup Series drivers Chase Briscoe and Kyle Larson got their start racing on the dirt and have had a hand in helping to make the project a success.
The Bristol Dirt Nationals will give the dirt track a test run the week before NASCAR comes to the track. Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, and Camping World Truck Series driver Matt Crafton will be participating in those festivities.
Since NASCAR’s airing of an iRacing series last year while racing was put on hold during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, the sport has become wildly popular with more tracks being added to the series. Among those new tracks will be a dirt track version of Bristol Motor Speedway. The new addition will be available beginning March 9.
Bristol Dirt Track iRacing will kick off the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series on March 24.
Photo credit: Bristol Motor Speedway Facebook page