NASCAR viewer’s guide: Bristol Motor Speedway dirt


For just the second time since 1970, NASCAR is on dirt.

The half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway is covered in red clay and ready to host its second NASCAR weekend on dirt, welcoming the Cup and Truck series for a weekend of mudslinging.

With a unique event comes unique formats. Dive into the story lines, procedures, entry lists and schedule here:

Dirty all over again

Bristol Motor Speedway is covered in dirt once again, but this time with some minor tweaks to the racing surface.

Last year’s corners were banked at 18-19 degrees. This year, the track utilized progressive banking, 16 degrees at the bottom ranging up to 18 degrees before one lane at 19 degrees near the top of the track. The change in banking, along with running the race at night is believed to provide better racing lines and options for drivers throughout the event.

Speedway Motorsports, Bristol’s parent company, stored the dirt from last year’s event to use it again in 2022. That includes about a two-inch layer of sawdust beneath dirt used from Bristol’s World of Outlaw dirt races in 2000-2001 (5,330 cubic yards), dirt from the campground (4,008 cubic yards), lime-treated clay and Bluff City Red Tennessee Clay on the top layer.

Lining them up

NASCAR will hold two 50-minute practice sessions for both the Cup and Truck series on Friday afternoon.

On Saturday, both series will run four 15-lap qualifying heat races to determine the starting lineup for their respective feature events, with the truck races beginning at 4 p.m. ET (FS2) and Cup’s races at 6 p.m. ET (FS2). Lineups for the heats will be set via random draw.

In the heat races, drivers will earn points per their finishing positions just as they would in a stage — 10 points for first down to one point for 10th. Competitors also receive passing points — one point per each car passed from their original starting position. If a driver loses positions, they will receive zero passing points. The drivers’ points totals will dictate the starting position for the feature race.

Perfect on dirt?

By virtue of winning last year’s event, Joey Logano is the only active driver to win a Cup race on dirt. But the addition of the Next Gen car, which features an independent rear suspension unlike its predecessor, nullifies any knowledge learned from the inaugural Bristol dirt race. Logano, who was victorious in the exhibition Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, has not won a points-paying Cup race since claiming the checkered flag atop Bristol’s dirt.

“I’ve never seen a dirt car with independent rear suspension before. So that will be different,” Logano said in a Bristol release. “The track is a little different, right? You’ve got a little progressive banking up top, so that may change it up a little bit.

“We’re racing at night, so that should help the dust factor a little bit. We’ll just kind of wait and see. Over time, we’ll kind of be able to put all that together. Beats me. I’ll figure it out.”

Other drivers in the field have won NASCAR races on dirt. Austin Dillon (2013), Bubba Wallace (2014), Christopher Bell (2015), Kyle Larson (2016) and Chase Briscoe (2018) all won Truck Series races at Eldora. Martin Truex Jr. also won the series’ dirt race at Bristol in 2021.

Entry lists

The 36 chartered teams make up this week’s entry list for the NASCAR Cup Series.

Noah Gragson, who sits third in Xfinity Series points, will drive the No. 16 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing in his third career Cup start.

Justin Allgaier, his JR Motorsports teammate in Xfinity, also returns to the Cup Series and will pilot the No. 77 Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports.

Josh Williams, who competes for BJ McLeod Motorsports in Xfinity, will make his Cup debut in the No. 78 Ford for Live Fast Motorsports on Sunday.

In the Camping World Truck Series, 38 trucks are entered for Saturday night’s race, meaning two drivers will fail to advance to the feature race.

Defending USAC Midget National champion Buddy Kofoid will make his NASCAR debut in the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Jessica Friesen, wife of series regular and Next Gen dirt tester Stewart Friesen, returns in an attempt to make her second career start in the No. 62 Chevrolet.

Cup regular Austin Dillon, the 2011 series champion, will drive the No. 20 Chevy for Young’s Motorsports, returning to the series for the first time since 2019. Dillon won the series’ inaugural race on dirt at Eldora Speedway in 2013.

Cup champion Joey Logano also returns to trucks for the first time since 2015, when he won at Martinsville. Logano will drive the No. 54 Ford for David Gilliland Racing, joining Cup rookie Harrison Burton who will drive DGR’s No. 17 Ford.

Chase Elliott will drive the No. 7 Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports on Saturday, returning to the series after a one-off with GMS Racing at Texas last June. His Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman have also driven the sponsored truck this season, with Byron scoring a win at Martinsville and Bowman finishing 25th at Circuit of the Americas.

NASCAR Cup Series Entry List — Bristol Motor Speedway dirt

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Entry List — Bristol Motor Speedway dirt

This weekend’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Friday, April 15

Forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 74 degrees, low of 48 degrees

  • 3:05 – 3:55 p.m. — Truck practice (all entries, FS1)
  • 4:05 – 4:55 p.m. — Cup practice (all entries, FS1)
  • 5:35 – 6:25 p.m. — Truck final practice (all entries, FS1)
  • 6:35 – 7:25 p.m. — Cup practice (all entries, FS1)

Saturday, April 16

Forecast: Mostly cloudy, high of 70 degrees, low of 43 degrees

  • 4:30 p.m. — First Truck qualifying race (15 laps; FS2)
  • 4:45 p.m. — Second Truck qualifying race (15 laps; FS2)
  • 5 p.m. — Third Truck qualifying race (15 laps. FS2)
  • 5:15 p.m. — Fourth Truck qualifying race (15 laps, FS2)
  • 6 p.m. — First Cup qualifying race (15 laps, FS2)
  • 6:15 p.m. — Second Cup qualifying race (15 laps, FS2)
  • 6:30 p.m. — Third Cup qualifying race (15 laps, FS2)
  • 6:45 p.m. — Fourth Cup qualifying race (15 laps, FS2)
  • 8 p.m. — Truck race (150 laps, 75 miles; FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, April 17

Forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 66 degrees, low of 45 degrees

  • 7 p.m. — Cup race (250 laps, 125 miles; FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole


TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole


TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

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


The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.


Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?


Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.