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.
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.