NASCAR drivers get dirt training in preparation for Bristol race

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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.

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“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.”