NASCAR Cup Series News & Notes – Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt

For the first time in its existence the NASCAR Cup Series will compete with the Next Gen car on the dirt surface of Bristol Motor Speedway for an Easter Weekend spectacular, the Food City Dirt Race, this Sunday, April 17 at 7 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Last season’s race at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track was the first-time the NASCAR Cup Series had competed on dirt in over 50 years. Not since the checkered flag flew on NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty for winning the race on September 30, 1970 at North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, North Carolina had the NASCAR Cup Series competed on a dirt track.

With more than 23,000 cubic yards of dirt hauled in to create the temporary dirt track surface at Bristol, it was a sight to be seen when all 39 cars took the green flag last season. The event saw five lead changes among five different leaders, but it was Team Penske’s Joey Logano who took the checkered flag over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by a scant 0.554-second.

This weekend’s Cup Series action at Bristol will kick off on Friday, April 15 with first practice from 4:05 p.m. – 4:55 p.m. ET and then followed by final practice from 6:35 p.m. – 7:25 p.m. ET. Both practices will be televised on FS1. Then on Saturday, April 17 Busch Light Pole Qualifying will be from 6 – 7 p.m. ET on FS1.

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Food City Dirt Race

The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt

The Date: Sunday, April 17

The Time: 7 p.m. ET

The Purse: $7,374,089

TV: FOX, 6 p.m. ET

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 125 miles (250 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 75),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 150), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 250)

Looking back at the NASCAR Cup Series on dirt

The NASCAR Cup Series has had a long legacy of racing at dirt tracks prior to the Modern Era (1972-Present), from 1949 to 1970 the series competed in 501 races on dirt. The very first NASCAR Cup Series points-paying sanctioned race in the inaugural season of 1949 was on dirt at Charlotte (Old) Speedway, a 0.75-mile track in Charlotte, North Carolina and the event was won by Jim Roper driving a Lincoln.

Including this past season’s dirt race at Bristol, the 502 all-time dirt Cup races have produced 77 different winners. NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty leads the series in dirt track wins with 46 victories; followed by Buck Baker with 42 and Herb Thomas with 41. Joey Logano is the only active driver with a win on dirt in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Top 10 NASCAR Cup Series Winners On Dirt
Rank Cup Dirt Winners Wins
1 Lee Petty 43
2 Buck Baker 42
3 Herb Thomas 41
4 Tim Flock 36
5 Ned Jarrett 35
6 Richard Petty 31
7 David Pearson 23
8 Junior Johnson 23
9 Speedy Thompson 18
10 Fireball Roberts 15
Fonty Flock 15

This week the competitors will be tasked with wrangling a Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track that has been measured to exactly 0.5-mile, and this weekend’s event will be 125 miles (250 laps) in length. The race will be broken up into three stages. The first two stages are 75 laps each and the final stage is 100 laps.

In addition, NASCAR has instituted a special format for Busch Light Pole Qualifying that includes qualifying races, very similar to what the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series did at Eldora Speedway, to decide the starting lineup. The lineups for the qualifying races will be done by random draw on Friday, April 15 at 3 p.m. ET. There are four qualifying races scheduled with 36 entrants competing and each race will have nine competitors.

Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt – Qualifying & Race Formats

This weekend’s racing will have special formats for both the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. Below are details on the 2022 Bristol Dirt qualifying and race formats:

  • Qualifying Race Starting Lineup – Random draw determines qualifying race designation and starting position for the qualifying race. The draw will be in order of current owner points.
  • Qualifying Races – Four qualifying races held at 15 laps each with only green flag laps counted – no overtime rule. Free pass and wave around procedures will be in effect.
  • Points Earned During Qualifying Races – Drivers will accumulate points in the qualifying races based on finishing position and passing points. The points total of a driver’s passing points and race finishing position points determines the starting position for the feature event.
  • Passing Points = The difference between assigned starting position and finishing position
  • Go forward – accumulate passing points
  • Go backward or finish where you started – zero passing points
  • Race Finishing Position Points = Points received for the driver’s finishing position
Finish Points
1 10
2 9
3 8
4 7
5 6
6 5
7 4
8 3
9 2
  • Tiebreaker – Owner Points
  • Feature Main – Lineup based on combined points of Qualifying Race finishing position and passing points. Feature race will be 250 laps (NCWTS: 150 laps) divided into three stages (NCS: 75/150/250) / (NCWTS: 40/90/150). Running order will be frozen at the conclusion of each stage. During the stage breaks, teams can change tires, add fuel, and make adjustments to their cars/trucks. These non-competitive pit stops must be completed in a time designated by NASCAR. No fuel or tires except at stage breaks. Flat or damaged tires may be changed with approval by NASCAR. (Note: Teams will not be required to pit during the stage breaks. Teams that elect not to pit will re-start ahead of teams that pitted. Re-start order determined by the freeze at the conclusion of the preceding stage)
  • Additional Event Highlights – Choose rule will not be in effect for the Bristol Dirt race. The overtime rules, free pass and wave around procedures will be in effect.

 NASCAR and Easter weekend racing

This weekend’s Food City Dirt Race (Sunday, April 17 at 7 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be the NASCAR Cup Series’ 11th-time racing on Easter Sunday since its inception in 1949.

The last time the series competed on Easter Sunday was March 26, 1989 at Richmond Raceway – the race was rescheduled to the Easter Sunday date after being snowed out from its original date in February. The race was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace.

On two other occasions – in 1953 at Charlotte Speedway and 1954 at Orange Speedway in Hillsboro  – the race was held on Easter Sunday as a make-up date due to rain.

NASCAR Cup Series Races held on Easter Sunday

Date Track – Race Winner Reason for Scheduling on Easter
Sunday, April 5, 1953 Charlotte Speedway – Dick Passwater Scheduled for March 22, 1953; Postponed due to rain.
Sunday, April 18, 1954 Hillsboro – Herb Thomas Scheduled for April 11, 1954; Postponed due to rain.
Sunday, April 17, 1960 Wilson Speedway – Joe Weatherly Scheduled Date
Sunday, April 2, 1961 Hillsboro – Cotton Owens Scheduled Date
Sunday, April 22, 1962 Martinsville – Richard Petty Scheduled Date
Sunday, April 14, 1963 South Boston – Richard Petty Scheduled Date
Sunday, April 18, 1965 North Wilkesboro – Jr. Johnson Scheduled Date
Sunday, April 6, 1969 Hickory – Bobby Isaac Scheduled Date
Sunday, March 29, 1970 Atlanta – Bobby Allison Scheduled Date
Sunday, March 26, 1989 Richmond – Rusty Wallace Scheduled for February 27, 1989; Postponed due to snow.

In addition, 20 NASCAR Cup Series events have been held on Easter Weekend from Good Friday through Easter Monday (Easter Monday was a public holiday in North Carolina from 1935 to 1987).

The first time NASCAR held a Cup race on Easter Weekend was on April 12, 1952, when the event at Columbia Speedway was held on Saturday. NASCAR Hall of Famer Buck Baker was the race winner.

On Easter weekends in 1964, 1966, & 1967 the NASCAR Cup Series held races on Saturday at Greenville Pickens Speedway and on Monday at Bowman Gray Stadium.

The race held on Easter weekend, Saturday, April 11, 1971, was the first in NASCAR Cup Series history to be broadcast live from start to finish on national television on ABC Wide World of Sports.

William Byron snaps 2022 season’s different winner streak

After seven different winners in the first seven races kicked off the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, Hendrick Motorsport’s William Byron snapped the different winners streak by snatching his second victory of the year last weekend at Martinsville Speedway. It was Byron’s first grandfather clock Cup trophy from the historic half-mile at Martinsville, his second of the 2022 season and fourth of his Cup career. Now the 24-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina heads to the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track to keep the early season momentum going.

Following his win last weekend, Byron has jumped to third in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings just 12 points back from his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott as standings lead. In eight starts this season, Byron has put up two wins (Atlanta, Martinsville) and four top fives.

Last season on the Bristol dirt, Byron started eighth and finished sixth.

Joey Logano looks to go back-to-back on the Bristol Dirt, get first win of 2022

The Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt couldn’t have come any sooner for Team Penske’s Joey Logano as the defending winner of last season’s race on dirt is still looking for his first win of this season.

In eight starts this season, Logano has collected two top fives and four top 10s. If Logano gets a win this season, it will be his 11th consecutive season with a victory in the series.

Last year, Logano looked like a natural on the dirt at Bristol. He started 10th and methodically worked his way to the front, taking the lead on Lap 193. He would then hold on to lead the final 61 laps, even fending off a wild overtime restart to get the win. With the victory, Logano became the 77th different driver to win on a dirt surface in the NASCAR Cup Series and the only active driver to accomplish the feat.

Chase Elliott’s consistent pace has him out front in points

There is a reason a winless driver is currently atop the NASCAR Cup Series driver points standings, and it all boils down to consistency. No driver has a better average finish in the first eight races of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season than Hendrick Motorsport’s Chase Elliott (11.3) and that early consistency has him holding the points lead heading to Bristol for the Food City Dirt Race this Sunday, April 17 at 7 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

The first eight races of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season have produced five points standings lead changes among five different drivers. Chase Elliott currently holds just a three point lead over second place Ryan Blaney in the driver standings. Elliott has posted one top five and five top 10s this season.

Looking to the wild card track that is the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt, Elliott started from 26th and impressively raced his way up to a top-10 finish (10th).

Martin Truex Jr. returns to Bristol Dirt looking for redemption

Last season’s Food City Dirt Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track was dominated by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. who led a race-high 126 of the schedule 253 laps (49.8%). The New Jersey native started fifth and won the first stage but ultimately fell to 19th at the finish. Now, still winless in 2022, Truex and the No. 19 team return to Bristol looking for some redemption on the dirt.

Last season, Truex competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt taking the win, his first in the series. With the win, Truex became the 36th of the 39 drivers all-time to win at least one race in all three of NASCAR’s national series.

Truex is still looking for his first win of the season. Through eight races, he has accumulated one top five and four top 10s.

Playoff Bubble: A little over quarter of the way through the regular season

A little over a quarter of the way through the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series regular season and currently half of the Playoff spots are spoken for as the series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt for the Food City Dirt Race (Sunday, April 17 at 7 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Seven different drivers have won this season securing their spots in the Playoffs, but don’t forget the series points leader is also guaranteed a position in the Playoffs even without a win. That leaves just eight postseason spots still up for grabs with 18 races left in the regular season.

The seven drivers with wins this year are William Byron (two wins), Denny Hamlin, Ross Chastain, Chase Briscoe, Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson and Austin Cindric (each have one win). A winless Chase Elliott currently holds the series driver standings lead taking the eighth spot.

At the other end of the Playoff outlook are the Richard Childress Racing teammates Tyler Reddick (+15) in 15th and Austin Dillon (+10) in the 16th and final Playoff transfer position. Both RCR drivers are looking for their first win of 2022. Last season at Bristol Dirt, Reddick started 27th and raced his way up to a seventh-place finish and Dillon started ninth and finished 21st.

Just outside the Playoff cutoff is 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion and 23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch in 17th with 10 points separating him from Dillon. Also, within striking distance of the Playoffs point cutoff are Petty GMS Motorsport’s driver Erik Jones and Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suárez. Last season both Suárez (fourth) and Jones (ninth) finished inside the top-10 at Bristol Dirt. Kurt Busch started 28th and managed to finish 16th.

2022 Driver Playoff Bubble Outlook Following Race No. 8
Rank Driver Points Wins Stages Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
15 Tyler Reddick 202 0 2 2 15
16 Austin Dillon 197 0 0 0 10
17 Kurt Busch 187 0 0 0 -10
18 Erik Jones 181 0 0 0 -16
19 Daniel Suarez 179 0 1 1 -18
20 Christopher Bell 173 0 0 0 -24
21 Chris Buescher 173 0 0 0 -24
22 Bubba Wallace 154 0 0 0 -43
23 Justin Haley 135 0 0 0 -62
24 Cole Custer 135 0 0 0 -62
25 Ty Dillon 130 0 0 0 -67
26 Michael McDowell 121 0 0 0 -76
27 Todd Gilliland # 112 0 0 0 -85
28 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 111 0 0 0 -86
29 Harrison Burton # 110 0 0 0 -87
30 Corey LaJoie 99 0 0 0 -98

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Special Easter Sunday Service at BMS Prior to the Food City Dirt Race – Grammy Award-winning worship leader Chris Tomlin and best-selling author and pastor Max Lucado will headline a live Easter celebration service prior to the start of the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 17. Special guest Gary LeVox, most well-known and beloved as the lead singer of Rascal Flatts, also will perform during the much-anticipated event.

The Easter celebration will begin at 4 p.m. (ET) on a stage in the BMS fan midway area outside the stadium near the E Parking lot between the Green and Orange bridges. A variety of speakers from the NASCAR industry will make appearances, highlighted by team owner Joe Gibbs.

LeVox will perform during the Easter celebration and also sing the National Anthem during pre-race ceremonies for the Food City Dirt Race.

“We are honored to provide an amazing late Sunday afternoon Easter service highlighted with appearances by Chris Tomlin, Max Lucado and Gary LeVox,” said Jerry Caldwell, president of Bristol Motor Speedway. “Hosting the Food City Dirt Race under the lights that night gives us and our partners the opportunity to recognize the importance of the day, while complementing our tremendous on-track action. Our community is a faithful one and we can’t think of a better place for this mega-celebration to culminate than right here at Bristol Motor Speedway, the ‘Home to Big Events.’”

Justin Allgaier to race #77 Spire Motorsports car at Bristol Dirt – Spire Motorsports announced this week that Justin Allgaier will drive the No. 77 car on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17.

This weekend will be Allgaier’s first NASCAR Cup Series start of the 2022 season and his third with Spire Motorsports in the series. Allgaier was last in a Cup car in the October Talladega race last season.

This weekend will be Allgaier’s series track debut at Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt.

Josh Williams to make NASCAR Cup Series career debut at BMS Dirt – This weekend for the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt, Live Fast Motorsports has tapped Josh Williams to pilot the No. 78 Ford. It will be Williams NASCAR Cup Series career debut.

Williams, from Port Charlotte, Florida, cut his teeth in the ARCA Menard Series and has competed full time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series since 2019. He is currently ranked 35th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings after making five starts and posting an average finish of 27.2

Doubling The Duty On Dirt – Four different NASCAR Cup Series drivers will be attempting to compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race this weekend at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track – Chase Elliott, Harrison Burton, Austin Dillon and Joey Logano are all entered in the event.

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