Despite Challenges, Bristol Pulls off Exciting Dirt Doubleheader

Logano holds on to win for Ford Performance

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Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, TN — March 29, 2021

Today is the day, finally. It’s Bristol Baby and we are racing on dirt. Friday was a bit of a dust-up as both the NASCAR Cup Series Cars and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series trucks practiced on the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt.

Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Advance My Track Challenge Ford, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 26, 2021 in Bristol, Tennessee. / NASCAR Photo

Drivers wondered if track crews would be able to get enough water on the track to improve visibility. Enter Mother Nature! Rainstorms dumped water all day Saturday on the track until a brief window opened in the afternoon. Crews worked the track into shape and the trucks were ready to give heat races a go.

Oops, too much water. It was like the neighbor who volunteers to come over and help paint your walls, kicks over the paint can, and now you have a new, unintended highlight color in your hardwood floor.

It’s difficult to drive if you can’t see out of the windshield. One lap in and the race is red-flagged. By the time they cleaned the trucks up, it was raining again. Heavy thunderstorms overnight with wind, rain, and hail inundated the Bristol area Saturday night into Sunday morning. Flood warnings cleared some campgrounds.

The campground and entertainment area that is adjacent to the Northside of the Speedway, was completely underwater. / Lasco Press Photo

Not everyone was able to get out in time.

Campers trapped by flash floods. / Lasco Press Photo

Movement around the Speedway was severely restricted. No Racing Sunday.

Low-lying areas around the Speedway were hit with flash floods / Lasco Press Photo

The rain moved out of the area Sunday afternoon and Monday dawned with a clear blue sky. Sunshine was now the track crew’s best friend. Pre-race water trucks in the corners indicated the track was in great shape for racing.

Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series took to the track first with a start just after 12 noon. Cup regular Martin Truex Jr., in the Kyle Busch Motorsports #51 truck started in 15th. Truex, with clearly the fastest race truck in the field, drove to the front and took the Stage 1 checkered flag.

Trucks scramble for positions at the start of the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt from Bristol Motor Speedway / Lasco Press Photo

A repeat in Stage 2 left everyone wondering if they had anything for Truex. Fellow Cup Regular Kyle Larson, who has an extraordinary amount of dirt track experience, was involved in the worst crash of the day shortly after the start of the Final Stage. Danny Bohn(30) was slow down the backstretch and into Turn 4, Larson did not see him and ran hard into the back of Bohn’s truck taking both drivers out of the race.

Kyle Larson(44), Danny Bohn(30), and Brett Moffitt(45) tangle in Turns 3 & 4 at Bristol / Lasco Press Photo

Truex again dominated in the Final Stage taking the win. He outran Ben Rhodes(99), a Truck series regular, finishing just over a second ahead of the ThorSport Racing entry. Cup regulars Chase Briscoe(4) finished 5th, Bubba Wallace(11) 11th, Kevin Harvick(17) 15th, Daniel Suarez(2) 17th. Kyle Larson(44) ended up in the 35th position.

Results of the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt from Bristol Motor Speedway

Position Truck Driver Behind Laps
1 51 Martin Truex Jr. 150
2 99 Ben Rhodes 1.149 150
3 24 Raphael Lessard 4.302 150
4 38 Todd Gilliland 4.694 150
5 4 Chase Briscoe 6.104 150
6 98 Grant Enfinger 7.122 150
7 21 Zane Smith 7.446 150
8 75 Parker Kligerman 7.716 150
9 16 Austin Hill 7.973 150
10 22 Austin Wayne Self 8.312 150
11 11 Bubba Wallace 8.573 150
12 52 Stewart Friesen 9.099 150
13 15 Tanner Gray 9.280 150
14 88 Matt Crafton 9.834 150
15 17 Kevin Harvick 10.102 150
16 2 Sheldon Creed 10.243 150
17 2 Daniel Suarez 10.576 150
18 23 Chase Purdy 10.920 150
19 1 Hailie Deegan 11.146 150
20 40 Ryan Truex 11.929 150
21 42 Carson Hocevar 12.218 150
22 33 Myatt Snider 12.396 150
23 12 Tate Fogleman 12.877 150
24 45 Brett Moffitt 13.713 150
25 20 Spencer Boyd 17.425 150
26 41 Cody Erickson 18.200 150
27 9 Codie Rohrbaugh 18.833 150
28 56 Mike Marlar -2 148
29 34 Jake Griffin -3 147
30 25 Timothy Peters -3 147
31 49 Andrew Gordon -6 144
32 13 Johnny Sauter -26 124
33 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb -30 120
34 18 Chandler Smith -33 117
35 44 Kyle Larson -52 98
36 30 Danny Bohn -52 98
37 6 Norm Benning -78 72
38 19 Derek Kraus -101 49
39 4 John Hunter Nemechek -102 48
40 26 Tyler Ankrum -116 34

 

Food City Dirt Race

Kyle Larson(50) was scheduled to sit on the pole for today’s Food City Dirt Race, after an engine change he will now start from the rear of the field and Denny Hamlin(11) will lead the field to the green flag. However, it was Kyle Busch(18) who was fast early and jumped out to a big lead. The advantage was short-lived as Busch was forced to pit early for an overheating engine.

Martin Truex Jr.(19), following his success in the truck race, drove from his 5th place starting spot to the lead using what he learned about the track earlier today.

Aric Almirola(10) spun off Turn 2 on Lap 41, sitting in the middle of the track he collected  Anthony Alfredo(38), Shane Golobic(78), and Corey LaJoie(7). All this happened just in front of Truex who was lapping slower traffic. Truex barely avoided the melee and NASCAR displayed the red flag to clean up the mess on the backstretch.

NASCAR had previously changed the 1st and 2nd Stages to 100 laps each. With the Final Stage set for 50 laps. There will also be competition cautions at 50 and 150 laps to check tire wear. All yellow flags are static with track positions frozen after the lucky dog gets the wave around.

On the restart, Truex was back out front with Christopher Bell(20) closing in 2nd. Three laps before the competition caution, Ryan Newman(6) went around in the middle of the backstretch causing an incident involving William Byron(24), Kevin Harvick(4), and Chase Briscoe(14) bringing out the caution early with everyone allowed to work on their race cars during the three-minute stoppage.

 

The race went back to green with Truex, followed by Bell, then Hamlin, Alex Bowman(48) ran 4th, and William Byron(24) 5th. Turn 2 seems to be the trouble spot as Kyle Larson got Bell loose coming off the turn. The pair wrecked together and Ross Chastain(42) got caught up in the mess. Larson was able to continue with repairs, Bell and Chastain took their race cars to the garage.

The race restarted with Truex still in the lead and Daniel Suarez(99) making an appearance at the front of the field running in 2nd. After the first couple of incidents, everyone seemed content to ride it out until the end of the Stage, and pit stops allowed for fresh tires and adjustments.

Just as he did in the Truck race Truex takes the win in Stage 1

Stage 1 Results

Position Car Driver Points
1 19 Martin Truex Jr. 10
2 24 William Byron 9
3 11 Denny Hamlin 8
4 99 Daniel Suarez 7
5 12 Ryan Blaney* 6
6 22 Joey Logano* 5
7 23 Bubba Wallace 4
8 6 Ryan Newman* 3
9 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2
10 17 Chris Buescher* 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Stage 2

A third of the way into Stage 2 and we finally have a new leader, Suarez passes Truex for the top spot. Byron follows into second, tire wear and setups seem to have a big impact as positions began to change rapidly as the competition caution for Stage 2 neared at Lap 150.

Racing action on the Dirt Track at Bristol / Lasco Press Photo

Joey Logano(22), Ryan Newman(6), Hamlin, Bubba Wallace(23), Chase Elliott(9), Tyler Reddick(8), and Erik Jones(43) round out the Top 10 as Stage 2 goes back to green.

A big cloud of dust engulfed the field as they came out of Turn 4 on the restart. Blaney went around and the wreck was on involving Larson, Austin Dillon(3), Alex Bowman(48), Michael McDowell(34), Cody Ware(51), Quin Houff(00), Ryan Preece(37), and JJ Yeley(53). Blaney suffered the most damage but was able to continue with repairs.

Next restart, it was Chase Briscoe(14) going around off Turn 4 in another ball of dust. The sun beating down on that corner is causing the extra dry conditions. NASCAR is going to single file restarts to cut down on the vision problems. During both spins Joey Logano was able to improve his position at the front of the field and now sits between the leader, Suarez, and Truex in 3rd.

In the sprint to the finish of Stage 2, Logano grabbed the win with Suarez 2nd, Hamlin 3rd, and Truex 4th.

Logano Wins Stage 2 / Lasco Press Photo

Stage 2 Results

Position Car Driver Points
1 22 Joey Logano* 10
2 99 Daniel Suarez 9
3 11 Denny Hamlin 8
4 19 Martin Truex Jr. 7
5 6 Ryan Newman* 6
6 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 5
7 23 Bubba Wallace 4
8 43 Erik Jones 3
9 8 Tyler Reddick 2
10 9 Chase Elliott 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

The Final Stage

With 50 laps to go, it will become obvious who is willing to push and shove to move forward. The water truck is pouring copious amounts onto the turns in an effort to minimize the dust. The “packer cars” are back out working the water into the track. It should be a classic sprint to the finish.

The four-sided center suspended jumbo screen just announced dirt will be back in the Spring of 2022. The fan reaction was enthusiastic.

They line up the same way they finished Stage 2. Hamlin passed Suarez and took a brief run at Logano. Joey was able to hold him off and as they began catching lapped traffic created a little separation.

Bubba Wallace spun 720 degrees in Turn 2 but kept it off the wall, other cars dodged him and no caution came out. A tire going down was the cause. Wallace got the car to pit road for service and lost 2 laps after running in the Top 10 most of Stage 2.

Hamlin hit the wall with 6 laps to go, still no caution, he held onto 2nd but has damage to the race car. With 5 laps to go Mike Marlar(66) spun at the start/finish line bringing out the caution and sending the race to overtime.

The Finish

Logano got enough of a jump to separate his rear bumper from Hamlin’s front end. Hamlin went high and could not get the grip to pull even. Truex in 3rd overdrive the corner and pushed way high in Turn 1. He had to climb hard on the brakes. Logano held on for the win, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made a great move on the restart to capture 2nd place.  Hamlin took 3rd, Suarez 4th, and Ryan Newman(6) 5th. Michigan’s Erik Jones finished 9th. Truex’s overaggression cost him dearly, he finished 19th.

Logano Celebrates in Victory Lane at Bristol / Lasco Press Photo

Logano became the 7th different winner in 7 races in the Cup series this year. It is the 10th consecutive year he has scored a Cup victory.

Playoff Standings

Rank Driver Points Wins Status
1 Joey Logano* 254 1 In-Win
2 Kyle Larson 242 1 In-Win
3 Martin Truex Jr. 230 1 In-Win
4 Ryan Blaney* 220 1 In-Win
5 William Byron 219 1 In-Win
6 Christopher Bell 186 1 In-Win
7 Michael McDowell* 183 1 In-Win
8 Denny Hamlin 311 0 +144
9 Brad Keselowski* 232 0 +65
10 Kevin Harvick* 225 0 +58
11 Chase Elliott 210 0 +43
12 Austin Dillon 186 0 +19
13 Kyle Busch 183 0 +16
14 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 173 0 +6
15 Kurt Busch 173 0 +6
16 Alex Bowman 172 0 +5
Playoff Cut Line
17 Chris Buescher* 167 0 -5
18 Ryan Preece 154 0 -18
19 Ryan Newman* 140 0 -32
20 Daniel Suarez 128 0 -44
21 Bubba Wallace 128 0 -44
22 Erik Jones 119 0 -53
23 Cole Custer* 118 0 -54
24 Matt DiBenedetto* 117 0 -55
25 Tyler Reddick 110 0 -62

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Results of the Food City Dirt Race from Bristol Motor Speedway

Position Car Driver Behind Laps
1 22 Joey Logano 253
2 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 0.554 253
3 11 Denny Hamlin 1.315 253
4 99 Daniel Suarez 1.618 253
5 6 Ryan Newman 1.812 253
6 24 William Byron 2.288 253
7 8 Tyler Reddick 2.316 253
8 12 Ryan Blaney 2.451 253
9 43 Erik Jones 2.784 253
10 9 Chase Elliott 3.627 253
11 2 Brad Keselowski 3.791 253
12 34 Michael McDowell 4.027 253
13 21 Matt DiBenedetto 4.134 253
14 17 Chris Buescher 4.480 253
15 4 Kevin Harvick 5.014 253
16 1 Kurt Busch 5.175 253
17 18 Kyle Busch 5.725 253
18 37 Ryan Preece 8.207 253
19 19 Martin Truex Jr. 8.976 253
20 14 Chase Briscoe -1 252
21 3 Austin Dillon -1 252
22 48 Alex Bowman -1 252
23 77 Stewart Friesen -1 252
24 41 Cole Custer -1 252
25 0 Quin Houff -1 252
26 96 Ty Dillon -1 252
27 23 Bubba Wallace -2 251
28 53 JJ Yeley -4 249
29 5 Kyle Larson -5 248
30 52 Josh Bilicki -6 247
31 66 Mike Marlar -9 244
32 51 Cody Ware -11 242
33 15 Chris Windom -191 62
34 20 Christopher Bell -199 54
35 42 Ross Chastain -201 52
36 10 Aric Almirola -214 39
37 78 Shane Golobic -214 39
38 7 Corey LaJoie -214 39
39 38 Anthony Alfredo -214 39