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.”
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Said Austin Dillon of the race on dirt: “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.