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.
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.
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.
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 HendrickCars.com sponsored truck this season, with Byron scoring a win at Martinsville and Bowman finishing 25th at Circuit of the Americas.
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)