NASCAR drivers get dirt training in preparation for Bristol race


NASCAR drivers are seeking different ways to prepare for the first series race on dirt since 1970.

The Bristol Dirt Nationals take place this week and will include several Cup drivers seeking to run on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway in preparation for the March 28 Cup race there.

Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott are entered in the Super Late Model division. The Super Late Models will run full shows Friday and Saturday and headline the Bristol Dirt Nationals. Saturday’s 60-lap feature will pay $50,000 to win.

MORE: Format for NASCAR Cup, Truck races at Bristol  

“I’m excited to get there,” Larson said. “I think we all are just because we don’t know what it’s going to be like. So, I don’t really know. I’m probably not going to learn a whole lot the week before (running the Dirt Nationals), other than just getting familiar with the banking and the track and stuff like that. A Super Late Model on dirt is going to be way different than a Cup car on the same race track. So, I don’t know what to expect for the Cup race anyway.”

Larson also will compete in the March 27 Camping World Truck Series race on the dirt at Bristol. He’ll drive the No. 44 for Niece Motorsports.

Austin Dillon, Corey LaJoie and Chris Buescher will drive in the 604 Late Models division this week at Bristol.

Dillon won the divisions feature race Tuesday night. LaJoie was sixth after starting 20th in the 27-car field.

Joey Logano will compete in the open modified division this week at Bristol along with Camping World Truck Series driver Matt Crafton. Cole Custer says he will drive a late model at the Bristol Dirt Nationals.

Other Cup drivers are preparing in different ways.

Brad Keselowski drove a crate Late Model last Friday at Cochran Motor Speedway in Cochran, Georgia.

Kevin Harvick, Chase Briscoe, Ryan Newman, Bubba Wallace and Martin Truex Jr. will compete in the March 27 Truck race at Bristol to prepare for the Cup race. This will be Truex’s first Truck race since 2006.

“I look at it as Bristol has been our worst track for the past couple years,” Truex said after his Phoenix win last weekend. “Why the heck not lay down dirt and see what we can do? I think it’s going to be fun. New challenge, something different.”

Aric Almirola said he’s done some testing in a dirt modified.

Ryan Blaney is taking a different approach.

“I just do Ford sim stuff and we have practice there, which will be good and kind of relying back to the Truck dirt race I did at Eldora a couple times,” he said. “I’ll kind of think back on that a little bit and rewatch that race, but Bristol will be totally different — bigger, high-banked track, and the Cup car is gonna drive a little bit different than the truck, so that’s the biggest thing.”

Erik Jones plans to test in a micro car at Millbridge Speedway.

Just the feeling of dirt and being on dirt and having the car and what it feels like,” Jones said of what he hopes to get from the test. “I haven’t been on dirt in, I guess, six years was the last time. Just being on a dirt track, not a lot is going to apply over to a totally different car and track and everything.”

COTA Xfinity starting lineup: AJ Allmendinger takes pole


AJ Allmendinger, who won this race a year ago, will start on the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas.

Allmendinger earned the pole with a lap of 92.173 mph Friday on the 20-turn, 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Xfinity starting lineup

He will be joined on the front row Sammy Smith (91.827 mph).
Ty Gibbs (91.665) will start third. Sheldon Creed (91.652) qualified fourth. Parker Kligerman (91.195) will start fifth.

Cup driver William Byron will start ninth. Byron’s time was disallowed for cutting the esses. Cole Custer, who will start 10th, didn’t make a lap in the final round of qualifying.

Cup driver Aric Almirola (91.269) qualified 13th. Truck Series racer Carson Hocevar (90.669) will start 17th. Alex Labbe (90.476) will start 23rd. He’s filling in for Josh Williams, who is serving a one-race suspension for parking his car at the start/finish line of last weekend’s race at Atlanta.

COTA Truck starting lineup: Ross Chastain wins pole


Ross Chastain will start on the pole for Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas.

Chastain earned the top starting spot in Friday’s qualifying with a lap of 91.877 mph. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch (91.490 mph).

More: COTA Truck starting lineup

Ty Majeski qualified third with a lap of 91.225 mph. Rookie Nick Sanchez (90.993) will start fourth, and Christian Eckes (90.937) will complete the top five.

Alex Bowman failed to make the race. Bowman had a flat right front on his qualifying lap.

Tyler Reddick leads Cup practice at COTA


Tyler Reddick posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Cup practice at Circuit of the Americas.

Reddick, who won two road course races last season, topped the field in his 23XI Racing Toyota with a lap of 92.989 mph. Kyle Larson was next, posting a lap of 92.618 mph around the 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Cup practice results

Ross Chastain, who won this race a year ago, was third on the speed chart in practice with a lap of 92.520 mph. He was followed by Kyle Busch (92.498 mph) and Daniel Suarez (92.461 mph).

Jordan Taylor, subbing for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, was 10th on the speed chart in practice after a lap of 92.404 mph.

Former world champion Jenson Button, driving for Rick Ware Racing, was 28th in practice with a lap of 91.759 mph. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, driving the Project 91 car for Trackhouse Racing, was 32nd in practice after a lap of 91.413 mph.

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, driving in his first race for Legacy Motor Club since the Daytona 500, was 36th in practice after a lap of 91.072 mph. IndyCar driver Conor Daly was last among the 39 cars in practice with a lap of 90.095 mph.

Cup qualifying is Saturday. The series races Sunday.


Saturday COTA Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


Austin Hill, the dominant driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series through the early weeks of the season, will be looking for his first Xfinity road course win Saturday.

Hill has won three of the season’s first five races, scoring victories at Daytona, Las Vegas and Atlanta.

Hill has been close in previous road course runs. He has a second at COTA, a third at Portland, a fourth at Road America and a ninth at Indianapolis.

MORE: Dr. Diandra takes a look at top Cup road course drivers

Kyle Busch and AJ Allmendinger own wins in the previous Xfinity races at COTA.

Allmendinger and three other Cup Series regulars — Aric Almirola, William Byron and Ty Gibbs — are scheduled to race in the Xfinity event.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 5:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled at 5:19 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 2 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Jordan Thiessen of Pit Boss Grills at 5 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by recording artist Payton Keller at 5:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 46 laps (156 miles) on the 3.41-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 14. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 5 p.m. … NASCAR RaceDay airs at 4 p.m. on FS1. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. and can be heard at …SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. Temperature of 82 at race time. No chance of rain.

LAST TIME: AJ Allmendinger won last March’s Xfinity race at COTA. Austin Hill was two seconds behind in second place. Cole Custer finished third.