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NASCAR Cup: Bristol Motor Speedway sticks with dirt for 2022 spring race

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – MARCH 29: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 29, 2021 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Bristol Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manageer Jerry Caldwell announced during the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol that the 2022 NASCAR spring race weekend would be a dirt-racing weekend. The NASCAR Cup and Truck series race weekend that culminated in a Monday rain-delayed doubleheader featuring the two series included the first dirt race for the Cup Series since 1970.

“There has been so much buzz and excitement around the inaugural Food City Dirt Race weekend that with NASCAR’s blessing, we are thrilled to announce that we will be bringing back dirt in 2022 as part of the NASCAR Cup Series spring schedule,” Caldwell said. “The dirt experience is unlike any other for NASCAR fans and could become a must-see event every season.”

The fall race weekend at the track will continue to be hosted on the facility’s traditional concrete surface.

The exact dates for next season’s Bristol race weekends are not yet determined, but even so, tickets for the dirt weekend already are on sale. The number of tickets available for the 2021 reduced, socially-distanced attendance were sold out.

Also reportedly up in the air is what car will be used. The Cup Series is slated to move to its Next Gen car in 2022, but discussions are underway regarding whether to run the new car or a version of the current car on the Bristol dirt. 

“I know that that discussion has already started to take place among ownership in the sport right now, probably even before the race that question was raised,” Trackhouse Racing co-owner Justin Marks said, as quoted in a NASCAR.com article. “This new car is a very sophisticated piece of equipment, and this race track is very hard on these cars. We were welding between practice and the race because of how rough this track was on our cars. That was a topic of conversation within the team. I believe that for team ownership is to probably have cars that are specifically for this dirt track. If that means we take this car back next year, I’m completely fine with that. I was talking to Travis (Mack), our crew chief, about that. What I know about this Next Gen car and how I’ve seen it up close and gotten underneath it, I feel like it would be mud-bogging with an IndyCar if we took this Next Gen car to the dirt track next year.”

The version of the current car raced Monday was without the regular splitter and had a larger grille opening.

Team Penske Competition Director Travis Geisler thinks a version of the current car would be a better option than the Next Gen car on the Bristol dirt.

“If this (current) car was a challenge, it’s (Next Gen) going to be a whole other set of challenges,” Geisler said. “Certainly, early in the season for the whole industry, so we’ll still be kind of new to that car, which will make it even more challenging.”

Although there are questions regarding which car will be used for the 2022 edition of the dirt race, a new tire is expected, according to NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller. After concerns of tire wear in Friday’s practice, stage lengths were changed for the Cup race and competition cautions were added to break the race into 50-lap segments.

Another issue Monday’s race presented was reduced visibility because of dust. Race winner Joey Logano suggested running future editions of the race at night in an effort to reduce the dust. According to multiple NASCAR officials, trading windshields for screens normally used in dirt-track racings is not an options because of the nature of safety features built into the race car.

“Certainly learned a number of things in the race and throughout the week that we can apply as we go forward in 2022,” NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said.

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Posted by on March 31, 2021. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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