Photo courtesy Barry Dodson official Facebook page

Rusty Wallace pays tribute to former crew chief, close friend Barry Dodson

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Rusty Wallace is one of many mourning the passing of veteran NASCAR crew chief Barry Dodson, who died unexpectedly Wednesday morning at the age of 64.

When team owner Raymond Beadle paired Wallace and Dodson together in 1986, it was immediate magic. The duo had a chemistry that made them one of the most powerful forces within NASCAR’s premier series.

During their five-year tenure together, Wallace and Dodson combined for 18 of Rusty’s 55 career Cup wins, as well as the highest point of both of their careers: winning the 1989 Winston Cup championship in the No. 27 Pontiac Blue Max.

MORE: Veteran NASCAR crew chief Barry Dodson, led Rusty Wallace to 1989 Cup championship, dies at 64.

Rusty spoke exclusively with NBC Sports about the passing of his crew chief and longtime friend. Here are some excerpts from that interview.

Q) What was it like when you and Barry first got together for team owner Raymond Beadle?

WALLACE: “When I went to drive for Raymond Beadle and the Blue Max, Barry was just one of the legendary crew chiefs that everybody wanted to work for. He was aggressive, real good with the pit crew, just real good with everything.

“The whole time I was with Blue Max Racing, when we started in 1986, we just had a lot of success under his leadership, winning a couple races right off the bat in 1986, a couple more in ’87, six in ’88 and ’89 and the Coca-Cola 600 (and one other race) in 1990. We just had some real big wins under Barry’s leadership. He was just a real cool guy.”

Q) Barry was one of only a few crew chiefs who, back in the day, not only called a race from the pit box, he also served as a member of the pit crew on race day. Tell me about his doing double duty, so to speak?

WALLACE: “Barry was our crew chief and was also our jack man. He could do almost anything. He was really physically fit, real fast, a real nimble guy. He worked real well with the pit crew, including Jimmy Makar, Todd Parrott and the other guys. They were all real good at what they did.

“He was one of those guys that didn’t just have one title. A lot of teams have one title now, but Barry had multiple titles. He ran the team, he was the crew chief, he was the jackman, he did a lot of things.

“Back then, we didn’t have multiple crew guys. Our mechanic was our right front tire changer and Barry was jack man. I almost wish in different ways it would go back that way. I mean, on Sunday’s, Barry could make it happen. I’m really going to miss the guy.”

Q) Your relationship with Barry wasn’t just driver and crew chief. He also became one of your closest friends. You even hired him to work for you almost 15 years after your last season together in the Cup series.

WALLACE: “I really appreciated and trusted what he did so much, that when I started one of my Xfinity teams (in 2004), he came over and helped us out a lot, helped tutor Stephen (Rusty’s son) a lot and got him winning on short tracks. I really trusted him and he helped me keep going.”

Rusty Wallace, left, and Barry Dodson celebrate one of their 18 wins together. Dodson passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 64.

Q) What do you remember most of the 1989 championship series and Barry?

WALLACE: “The thing that bothered me, I remember we’d win all those (six) races and everyone would be so jubilant and so excited, and we’d go back to the shop the very next morning, be so excited, high-fiving each other, and Barry would be just walking around all stone-faced.

“I’d ask the guys why he was acting like that and one of the guys told me that’s just Barry. He doesn’t want to get so excited that he gets his eye off the ball.

“So he’d come in, say, ‘Ok, we won that, it’s done, it’s over and let’s get back to business, boys.’ That’s just how he was. We might linger and celebrate for two or three days after, but Barry, it was almost as if he was too serious, making us wonder there was something wrong rather than focusing on keeping our mind on the ball.

“Once we got to winning so many races, I knew him, I understood what was going to happen and what we were going to deal with.”

Q) Barry suffered an incomprehensible tragedy in 1994 when his two children were killed in a single-car crash in Darlington, South Carolina. How much do you remember of that tragic event and its impact on Barry?

WALLACE: “When he lost his children in 1994, it really tore Barry up big-time and I don’t think I ever saw him come from back that. He just wasn’t the same as he was when he was with me. The passing of his children really broke his heart and really changed him.”

Q) Any final thoughts about your crew chief and friend, Barry Dodson?

WALLACE: “In my opinion, he was one of the greatest crew chiefs ever in the history of NASCAR. He worked for Raymond Beadle, Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and myself. One of the reasons I loved Barry so much is that Barry guided me personally to a lot of victories and to a championship. In ’89, it was such a magical year.

“He had a cool attitude which demanded you pay attention and you respect. When he said something, you listened to what he was saying. Just a wonderful crew chief. I miss him bad.”

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2021 NASCAR Cup schedule features new tracks, bold changes

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The 2021 Cup schedule features the first race on a dirt track for the series in more than 50 years, three new venues and six road course points races.

Responding to fan interest, the series adds three road course events to the 2021 schedule. Those new races are May 23 at Circuit of the Americas, July 4 at Road America and Aug. 15 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The other points races on road courses in 2021 will be at Sonoma, Watkins Glen and the Charlotte Roval. The Daytona road course will host the Busch Clash exhibition race.

The race that might gain the most attention, though, could be the March 28 Cup race at Bristol. The track will be converted to dirt.

There are no midweek races. Pocono Raceway continues to have the only doubleheader weekend. There is a two-week break in late July/early August during the Olympics.

The schedule is flush with change. Here’s a look at those changes:

NEW EVENTS

March 28 – Bristol Dirt race: It is the first Cup race on dirt since 1970 at Raleigh, a race won by Richard Petty.

May 9 – Darlington: The track that NASCAR returned to after the season was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic this year will host two races in 2021. The track adds a spring date and it will be run on Mother’s Day. It will be only the third time in the last 40 years Cup has run on Mother’s Day. The added race comes from Chicagoland Speedway, which will not have any NASCAR events in 2021.

May 23 – Circuit of the Americas: Inaugural race for the series on the road course in Austin, Texas that has hosted Formula One and IndyCar, among other series.

June 13 – All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway: First time the All-Star race has been held at this track. Marks third different year for the event after being in Charlotte in 2019 and Bristol this year.

June 20 – Nashville: The 1.333-mile track will hold its first race for Cup. The track hosted Xfinity and Truck races from 2001-11. The date comes from a Dover, leaving that race with one NASCAR race weekend in 2021.

July 4- Road America: Will host the Cup Series for the first time. Gets holiday weekend with July 4 date. The date comes from Michigan, leaving that track with one NASCAR race weekend in 2021.

July 11 – Atlanta: Kentucky race date moves to Atlanta to give track a second race. The first race at the track in 2021 will be March 21.

Aug. 15 – Indianapolis road course: After comping on the oval since 1994, Cup moves to the road course. Will be a part of a race weekend with the IndyCar Series. 

OTHER DATES OF NOTE

Feb. 21 – Miami: Moves to second race of the season and comes a week after Daytona 500.

Feb. 28 – Auto Club: Moves up a week earlier and this will be its last race as a 2-mile track. Track will be converted into a short track after this event for 2022.

July 25 & Aug. 1: No Cup races because of the Olympics. 

Sept. 5 – Nov. 7: Cup playoffs. Same 10 tracks as 2020. Only difference is Texas and Kansas flip-flop weekends in the Round of 8. Texas will open that round on Oct. 17. Kansas will follow on Oct. 24. Round of 8 ends at Martinsville on Oct. 31. Phoenix again will host the title race, doing so Nov. 7.

 

2021 NASCAR CUP SERIES SCHEDULE

(Times, weekend schedule and TV info to be announced later)

 

Date Race / Track
Tuesday, February 9 Clash (Daytona Road Course)
Thursday, February 11 Duel at Daytona
Sunday, February 14 Daytona 500
Sunday, February 21 Homestead-Miami
Sunday, February 28 Auto Club
Sunday, March 7 Las Vegas
Sunday, March 14 Phoenix
Sunday, March 21 Atlanta
Sunday, March 28 Bristol Dirt
Saturday, April 10 Martinsville
Sunday, April 18 Richmond
Sunday, April 25 Talladega
Sunday, May 2 Kansas
Sunday, May 9 Darlington
Sunday, May 16 Dover
Sunday, May 23 COTA
Sunday, May 30 Charlotte
Sunday, June 6 Sonoma
Sunday, June 13 All-Star (Texas)
Sunday, June 20 Nashville Superspeedway
Saturday & Sunday, June 26-27 Pocono Doubleheader
Sunday, July 4 Road America
Sunday, July 11 Atlanta
Sunday, July 18 New Hampshire
Sunday, August 8 Watkins Glen
Sunday, August 15 Indianapolis Road Course
Sunday, August 22 Michigan
Saturday, August 28 Daytona
Sunday, September 5 Darlington
Saturday, September 11 Richmond
Saturday, September 18 Bristol
Sunday, September 26 Las Vegas
Sunday, October 3 Talladega
Sunday, October 10 Charlotte Roval
Sunday, October 17 Texas
Sunday, October 24 Kansas
Sunday, October 31 Martinsville
Sunday, November 7 Phoenix
  • Races in bold are playoff races

 

 

All-Star Race moves to Texas in 2021

All-Star Race
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The All-Star Race moves to Texas Motor Speedway in 2021, marking the third different track the event will held in a three-year period.

The 2021 race will be held June 13, the track announced Wednesday.

The complete 2021 Cup schedule will be announced Wednesday afternoon by NASCAR.

MORE: COTA to host Cup road course race in 2021

The All-Star Race was held from 1985-2019 at Charlotte Motor Speedway except for 1986 when Atlanta Motor Speedway held the race. The event moved to Bristol Motor Speedway in July because of COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings in North Carolina.

Chase Elliott won Bristol All-Star Race.

Texas also announced it will host a NASCAR Camping World Truck race June 11 on All-Star weekend. The Xfinity Series will race June 12.

Texas will remain in the playoffs in 2021. It will host a Cup playoff race Oct. 17. The Xfinity Series will race at Texas on Oct. 16.

NASCAR Cup Series to go dirt trackin’ at Bristol in 2021

Photo: Bristol Motor Speedway
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Cup teams will compete on a dirt track for the first time in more than 50 years when the series races March 28 at Bristol Motor Speedway, the track announced. 

The full Cup schedule is set to be released at 3:30 p.m. ET today.

“Bristol Motor Speedway has hosted many historic events over the years and we will be adding to that resume,” Jerry Caldwell, general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, said on Wednesday. “We can’t wait to see how the stars of NASCAR take to the dirt.”

Said Austin Dillon of the race: “I’m super pumped. … I’m hoping it becomes a staple.”

Caldwell said the track will work with NASCAR on the race format for the dirt event.

“This is returning to our roots in racing,” Caldwell said. He noted that this concept has been talked about for “awhile.” He also said the track will “explore other options” on any other series that could race on dirt beyond NASCAR.

Caldwell said the change comes from feedback from fans. Marcus Smith, Speedway Motorsports President and CEO, said Wednesday that he pitched the idea of a dirt race at Bristol for the 2020 schedule.

Bristol hosted dirt races in 2000-01 with the World of Outlaws (see video below of 2001 race) and dirt late models. The track used 14,000 truckloads of dirt for the project.

The last 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. Bobby Isaac finished third, Bobby Allison placed sixth, Benny Parsons was 14th, Wendell Scott placed 20th.

The NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series raced on dirt at Eldora Speedway from 2013-19. It was not held this year because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Bristol also will host a second race. That event again will be in the playoffs. The Sept. 18 race again will be an elimination race in the first round. The playoff race will be on the concrete track surface.

Road America to host 2021 Cup race on July 4

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Food, fireworks and road course racing will fill the July 4 calendar for NASCAR fans with Road America hosting the Cup series on that holiday weekend in 2021.

The track announced the race date Wednesday. The full Cup schedule is set to be released at 3:30 p.m. ET today.

The 4.048-mile course has hosted Xfinity races since 2010. Among the current Cup drivers who won there in the Xfinity Series are Michael McDowell in 2016 and Christopher Bell in 2019.

MORE: Cup to run on Indy road course in 2021

MORE: Circuit of the Americas to host Cup for first time in 2021

The track takes the holiday date that had been held by Daytona International Speedway from 1959-2018 before Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted the Cup Series that weekend last year.

“We certainly have been working very close with (Road America) not only how we bring this to life but, ultimately, where it was going to be located on the schedule,” Ben Kennedy, NASCAR vice president of racing operations, told NBC Sports, said of adding the Wisconsin track to the schedule. “We started to really toss around the idea of hey, what about July 4th weekend and what would that look like for the track?

“Just even the name, Road America, it feels like Americana and the July 4th weekend and everything. Fireworks, camping and cookout, everything that goes along with it. That track is almost synonymous with it. I think that’s where we really ended up kind of tying Road America to July 4th weekend. Working with NBC on that as well, they are certainly very bullish on it and excited about having Road America on that weekend.”

Tim Flock won the lone Cup race at Road America in 1956. Flock was among nine NASCAR Hall of Famers among the 26 drivers in that race. Others included Fireball Roberts (third), Herb Thomas (sixth), Buck Baker (eighth), Rex White (11th), Lee Petty (13th), Joe Weatherly (20th), Curtis Turner (24th) and Junior Johnson (26th).