It took truckloads of dirt… Some rain… and maybe a bit of desperation. Racing at Bristol with the “new” Next Gen car brought some of the short track action that, well maybe…, perhaps…, had been missing at Martinsville.

Richmond had a promising show with 13 lead changes traded over 7 drivers so there was some competition on the track. The cautions were light at Richmond but more so at Martinsville. Bristol did put on a show with the dirt surface but it was spread out with the rain delays. The “Dirt Race” lead changed over 6 times among 5 drivers and the cautions, including the stages and competition pit stops, totaled 14 through 89 laps.

The Food City Dirt Race at Bristol did bring a finish for the books. Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe were racing for the front and Briscoe pushed the limits on a final lap dive. The #14 Ford went loose on the rain slick dirt and touched up on Reddick’s #8 Chevy. Both cars went sideways as the #14 lost several slots. Reddick managed to correct the #8 but not before Kyle Busch drove by both in the M&Ms #18 Toyota.

Chase Briscoe (#14) takes a last lap dive under Tyler Reddick putting both in a spin which allows Kyle Busch (#18 Toyota) to gain the win at Bristol’s Food City Dirt Race

Busch claimed the checkered flag at Bristol. Reddick stayed on track for the 2nd slot and Briscoe’s hard dive was rewarded with a mid-field finish.

This car still has to gain some track time and mileage. NASCAR will be reviewing the entire package from the aero to the tires. Short track racing put this car in such tight competition that the effort to pass and gain position was pressed almost flat. The dirt surface and weather at Bristol allowed some of these apparent limitations to fall away.

The speed at Darlington should bring the car back into a competitive nature. This package has advantages for speed. It will be interesting to see what changes NASCAR may put forth for a racing show when the short tracks come around again on the schedule.

This car is a major step forward. It looks good. The engineering is superb and in line with the performance across other series and in the showroom. For NASCAR, it may just be a tweak or two to make it work better from track to track.

Racing is on.

It still would have been a NASCAR short track showdown without tons of clay dirt dragged in and dumped on the oval at the bottom of a grandstand bowl. The dirt added dust, hampered visibility, restricted high line racing and above all of that… Well… It made for a good show.

Racing started on dirt and NASCAR brought it back with the Food City Dirt Race. The trucks had opened the door with races at Eldora and someone thought dragging truckloads of dirt into the Bristol stadium would be a fun thing. Pandemic and crowd limitations and whatever the case, NASCAR and the folks at Bristol cooked up a plan for something outside of the box.

Racing on dirt in the great stadium… As gimmicks go, it was a pretty good one. The ruts and the bumps and the loose upper groove and chunks breaking loose and the slipping and the sliding put drivers on a surface like no other. Dirt tracks don’t really have concrete or asphalt just inches below the surface. Dirt tracks are built on more dirt…

The Bristol Dirt Race was a “Frankenstein’s Monster” of surfaces built in reverse. Throw dirt on the manufactured road surface and cut loose a lot of heavy NASCAR race cars and see how things shake up.

Beyond all else, the rain came and came and came again. The wet made a mud that stuck like glue to grills and windshields and completely bogged the schedule to run on Monday, March 29. The combined schedule of Camping World Trucks and NASCAR Cup put a burn on the dirt that was already mucked from rain. Despite the rain and schedule, the races ran and the track held… sort of…

Martin Truex Jr. was the force to reckon with in the truck race and went on for the win. The Cup race ran later that afternoon.

It shook up. Crashes, spins, visibility, tires and overheating hit many drivers through dusty laps filling the air with the track they were racing on. A late race spin put it all on overtime.

Denny Hamlin started in the second spot outside of Joey Logano. Hamlin made the gamble of going high but the loose dirt in the outside put him quickly in the wall leaving a mostly clear path for Logano to run the checkers on the dirt race at Bristol.

Joey Logano has the distinction of winning on the first Cup run back on dirt since the earliest days. The experiment of the Bristol Food City Dirt Race will see more laps as the schedule for 2022 has it on the books to return. They will review the process and make the track better, as far as the planning goes…

For now… It’s Joey Logano for the win at the Bristol Dirt Race.