Is Next Gen right car for 2022 dirt race at Bristol?


Discussions have taken place on if Cup teams should be allowed to run the current car at next year’s dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway instead of the Next Gen car, according to Trackhouse Racing owner Justin Marks.

Those are just part of ways the sport is looking at how to make next year’s dirt race better after series officials made format changes before and during Monday’s race.

The Next Gen car is scheduled to debut next season. It is intended to replace the current inventory of cars for Cup teams, but the Bristol dirt race could be an exception.

MORE: Daniel Suarez gives Trackhouse Racing its first top-five finish

“I know that that discussion has already started to take place among ownership in the sport right now, probably even before the race that question was raised,” Marks said Tuesday of what type of car teams would race on the Bristol dirt track next year. “This new car is a very sophisticated piece of equipment, and this race track is very hard on these cars. We were welding between practice and the race because of how rough this track was on our cars. That was a topic of conversation within the team.

“I believe that for team ownership … is to probably have cars that are specifically for this dirt track. If that means we take this car back next year, I’m completely fine with that. I was talking to Travis (Mack), our crew chief about that. What I know about this Next Gen car and how I’ve seen it up close and gotten underneath it, I feel like it would be mud-bogging with an IndyCar if we took this Next Gen car to the dirt track next year.”

He’s not alone in raising questions about how the Next Gen car could do on Bristol’s dirt.

Travis Geisler, competition director at Team Penske, said it is “something to certainly consider” not using the Next Gen car at Bristol next spring.

“If this (current) car was a challenge, it’s going to be a whole other set of challenges,” Geisler said of racing the Next Gen car on a dirt surface. “Certainly early in the season for the whole industry (with the Next Gen car in 2022), so we’ll still be kind of new to that car, which will make it even more challenging.

(The current car) we kind of know so much about the history, kind of how things tear up, what happens throughout the course of events. … That body (of the Next Gen car) being totally different, all the suspension being different. I can’t really say independent rear suspensions have been run on dirt.”

NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race
Among key questions is if the 2022 dirt race should be held at night to limit the amount of dust. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

What type of car is among many questions NASCAR and teams will have to answer before next year’s race.

“Certainly learned a number of things in the race and throughout the week that we can apply as we go forward in 2022,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said after Monday’s race.

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, told “The Morning Drive” Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he anticipates a new tire for next year’s race. NASCAR altered the stage lengths and added competition cautions for the 250-lap Cup race because of high tire wear in Friday’s practices. 

Another key question is what to do about whatever car is run and if it is worthwhile to remove the windshield, as is done with dirt cars.

That question was raised after the Trucks had to stop a qualifying race after one lap because of all the mud caked on the windshield and grille. Rain on Saturday canceled those races before they could resume.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pinty's Truck Race on Dirt Qualifying
The windshield of Bubba Wallace‘s truck after one lap in the qualifying race. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“Those are things that we will talk about, but the windshield … in our cars, I realize that dirt cars don’t have windshields in them, but in our cars, the entire level of protection and level of safety is based on having the windshield in there,” Miller told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“I think that’s not something we’re not going to look at. But because that windshield and the way that it is made can keep a lot of potential harm away from the driver, that might be a hard one to get for us. Certainly something we will get some feedback on and let everyone weigh in on.”

Just as important is the track, notes Marks, who formerly owned a World of Outlaws team with Kyle Larson. Some competitors had said months earlier they were concerned about dust and visibility because the race would be held during the day when the sun could dry the track quicker. Because of visibility issues with dust, NASCAR mandated single-file restarts over the final 85 laps of the Cup race.

Race winner Joey Logano said that “racing at night is the key” to avoiding some of the dust issues.

Even with the challenges of the past weekend, Marks applauds NASCAR for trying something different.

“There were a lot of unknowns,” he said of the first Cup race on dirt since 1970. “Given all those unknowns, I think they did a great job navigating it.

“I think there’s no way they were going to come into Bristol for this dirt race and walk away going like, ‘Oh that was perfect, perfect execution.’ … Steve O’Donnell sent an email out (Tuesday) morning to everybody saying that they’ve already started sort of taking a forensic audit of the weekend and started having discussions about how to make the show better for next year.”

Alpha Prime Racing’s road woes don’t keep team from competing


SONOMA, Calif. — Alpha Prime Racing owner Tommy Joe Martins laughs. He can. His Xfinity Series cars all are here at Sonoma Raceway.

At one point last week, it was not certain if his team’s cars would make it to Portland International Raceway.

“It was probably the toughest professional week I’ve had of my NASCAR career,” Martins told NBC Sports on Friday at Sonoma.

MORE: Kyle Larson leads Xfinity practice at Sonoma

The Alpha Prime Racing team had both its trucks break down and one of its haulers have mechanical issues last week on the way to the Pacific Northwest.

“We basically sent four pieces of equipment on the road and three of them broke,” Martins said.

For a time, the car Sage Karam is driving this weekend at Sonoma was left in a hauler in Kansas City because there wasn’t room in the dually Martins sent. It had room only for the car that was needed at Portland and other equipment. Karam’s car, which was to be a backup at Portland, was left behind.

“It’s a very helpless feeling when you feel like your stuff is stuck on the side of the road,” Martins said.

He still has one truck still in St. Louis and another in Oregon. Martins estimates the mechanical issues will cost his team about $50,000 when everything is totaled.

Trouble started well before the team left its Mooresville, North Carolina, race shop for Portland.

The Xfinity Series race at Charlotte was scheduled to run May 27. Rain forced that event to be rescheduled to May 29. Martins said the team had planned to send its trucks to Portland on May 28. With the race pushed back to the 29th, the travel schedule tightened.

It got worse.

After the Xfinity race started, rain came. With the Coca-Cola 600 scheduled for 3 p.m. ET that day – after being delayed by rain from Sunday – the rest of the Xfinity race was pushed back until after the 600. That further tightened the window on Xfinity teams to make it to Portland.

The Xfinity race ended around 11:30 p.m. ET on May 29. Alpha Prime Racing’s haulers left the shop around 6 a.m. ET on May 30.

The two trucks traveled together until issues in St. Louis.

The truck hauling the Nos. 44 and 45 cars had engine issues in St. Louis. The other truck kept going until it had mechanical issues with its hauler in Kansas City. The air bags on the hauler failed.

So, Alpha Prime Racing had a truck that worked in Kansas City with a hauler that didn’t and a truck that didn’t work in St. Louis with a hauler that did.

The truck in Kansas City went back to St. Louis to attach to the hauler and take those cars and equipment to Portland. Martins then had to find something to haul the stranded equipment in Kansas City and a driver. He eventually did. A dually left North Carolina for Kansas City. Once there, what fit in the dually was taken to Portland and what didn’t, including Karam’s Sonoma car stayed behind.

Yet, more trouble was headed for Martins and his team.

The truck that had gone back from Kansas City to St. Louis to take hauler that worked then broke down about 200 miles from Portland.

“I laugh knowing that we’re on the other side of it,” Martins said Friday of all the issues his team had transporting cars and equipment across the country.

“We’ve started to make plans and corrections for it not happening again,” he said.

That hauler that was left in Kansas City? It was repaired and transported to Sonoma, arriving earlier this week.

“Our guys are troopers,” Martins said. “Both of our (truck) drivers were just awesome about the whole thing. … They went through hell week as far as driving somewhere, fly back and pick something up, drive again and now are going to have to do the same thing getting back.”

When the garage opened Friday at Sonoma, Alpha Prime Racing had all its cars.

“I don’t think we had any major issues here, so that was good,” Martins said.

The focus is back on the track. Karam was 24th on the speed chart in Friday’s practice, leading Alpha Prime Racing’s effort. Dylan Lupton was 32nd. Jeffrey Earnhardt was last among 41 cars.

After Saturday night’s race, the team heads back to North Carolina for a well-earned weekend off.

Kyle Larson leads Xfinity practice at Sonoma


SONOMA, Calif. — Kyle Larson posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Xfinity Series practice at Sonoma Raceway.

This is the first time the series has raced at the 1.99-mile road course in Northern California. Teams got 50 minutes of practice Friday.

Larson led the way with a lap of 90.392 mph. He was more than a second faster than the rest of the field.

MORE: Xfinity practice results Sonoma

Sheldon Creed was second on the speed chart with a lap of 89.066 mph. He was followed by AJ Allmendinger (89.052 mph), Cole Custer (89.020) and Ty Gibbs (88.989).

Larson, Allmendinger and Gibbs are among seven Cup drivers are entered in the Xfinity race. Aric Almirola was seventh on the speed chart with a lap of 88.750 mph. Ross Chastain was ninth with a lap of 88.625 mph. Daniel Suarez was 16th with a lap of 88.300 mph. Ty Dillon was 33rd with a lap of 86.828 mph.

Anthony Alfredo will go to a backup car after a crash in practice. He was uninjured in the incident that damaged the right side of his car.

Qualifying is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET Saturday. The race is scheduled to begin at 8:20 p.m. ET Saturday.

Anthony Alfredo’s car after a crash in Xfinity practice Friday at Sonoma Raceway. He was uninjured. (Photo: Dustin Long)

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


The Xfinity Series will compete for the first time at Sonoma Raceway this weekend. This is one of eight road course events on the Xfinity schedule this season.

Seven Cup drivers are scheduled to compete in Saturday’s race, including AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez, who won last year’s Cup race at this track Allmendinger has won 11 of 25 career road course starts in the Xfinity Series.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Sonoma Raceway

(All times Eastern)

START: Golden State Warrior Patrick Baldwin Jr. will give the command to start engines at 8:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 8:20 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Qualifying begins at 3 p.m. … Driver introductions begin at 7:35 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Earl Smith, team pastor for the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers, at 8 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by 9-year-old Isis Mikayle Castillo at 8:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 79 laps (156.95 miles) on the 1.99-mile road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 20. Stage 2 ends at Lap 45.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying begins at 3 p.m. Saturday

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 8 p.m. ... Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. and can be heard on … SiriusXN NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mostly cloudy with a high of 72 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: This is the first time the Xfinity Series has raced at Sonoma.


NASCAR Friday schedule at Sonoma Raceway


The Xfinity Series makes its first appearance Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

Xfinity teams, coming off last weekend’s race at Portland International Raceway, get 50 minutes of practice Friday because Sonoma is a new venue for the series.

Seven Cup drivers, including Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez, are among those entered in the Xfinity race. Suarez won the Cup race at Sonoma last year.

Xfinity teams will qualify and race Saturday at the 1.99-mile road course.

Sonoma Raceway


Friday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 69 degrees.

Friday, June 9

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. — ARCA Menards Series West
  • 1 – 10 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 2 – 3 p.m. — ARCA West practice
  • 3:10 – 3:30 p.m. — ARCA West qualifying
  • 4:05 – 4:55 p.m. — Xfinity practice (FS1)
  • 6:30 p.m. — ARCA West race (64 laps, 127.36 miles; live on FloRacing, will air on CNBC at 11:30 a.m. ET on June 18)