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.
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.
Not everyone was able to get out in time.
Movement around the Speedway was severely restricted. No Racing Sunday.
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.
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.
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
|1||51||Martin Truex Jr.||—||150|
|10||22||Austin Wayne Self||8.312||150|
|33||10||Jennifer Jo Cobb||-30||120|
|39||4||John Hunter Nemechek||-102||48|
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
|1||19||Martin Truex Jr.||10|
|9||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||2|
*Ford Mustang Drivers
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.
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.
Stage 2 Results
|4||19||Martin Truex Jr.||7|
|6||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||5|
*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.
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 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.
|3||Martin Truex Jr.||230||1||In-Win|
|14||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||173||0||+6|
|Playoff Cut Line|
*Ford Mustang Drivers
Results of the Food City Dirt Race from Bristol Motor Speedway
|2||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||0.554||253|
|19||19||Martin Truex Jr.||8.976||253|