Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, TN — April 17, 2022
For the first time in its existence, the NASCAR Cup Series competes with the Next-Gen car on the dirt surface of Bristol Motor Speedway for an Easter Weekend spectacular, the Food City Dirt Race.
Last season’s race at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track was the first time the NASCAR Cup Series had competed on dirt in over 50 years. Not since the checkered flag flew on NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty for winning the race on September 30, 1970, at North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, North Carolina had the NASCAR Cup Series competed on a dirt track.
With more than 23,000 cubic yards of dirt hauled in to create the temporary dirt track surface at Bristol, it was a sight to be seen when all 39 cars took the green flag last season. The event saw five lead changes among five different leaders, but it was Team Penske’s Joey Logano who took the checkered flag over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by a scant 0.554-second.
After seven different winners in the first seven races kicked off the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, Hendrick Motorsport’s William Byron snapped the streak of different winners by snatching his second victory of the year last weekend at Martinsville Speedway. It was Byron’s first grandfather clock Cup trophy from the historic half-mile at Martinsville, his second win of the 2022 season and fourth of his Cup career. Now the 24-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina heads to the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track to keep the early season momentum going.
Joey Logano Looks For Back-to-Back Wins on the Bristol Dirt
The Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt couldn’t have come any sooner for Team Penske’s Joey Logano as the defending winner of last season’s race on dirt is still looking for his first win of this season.
In eight starts this season, Logano has collected two top fives and four top 10s. If Logano gets a win this season, it will be his 11th consecutive season with a victory in the series.
Last year, Logano looked like a natural on the dirt at Bristol. He started 10th and methodically worked his way to the front, taking the lead on Lap 193. He would then hold on to lead the final 61 laps, even fending off a wild overtime restart to get the win. With the victory, Logano became the 77th different driver to win on a dirt surface in the NASCAR Cup Series and the only active driver to accomplish the feat.
Chase Elliott’s Consistent Pace Has Him First in Points
There is a reason a winless driver is currently atop the NASCAR Cup Series driver points standings, and it all boils down to consistency. No driver has a better average finish in the first eight races of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season than Hendrick Motorsport’s Chase Elliott (11.3) and that early consistency has him holding the points lead heading to Bristol.
The first eight races of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season have produced five points standings lead changes among five different drivers. Chase Elliott currently holds just a three-point lead over second-place Ryan Blaney in the driver standings. Elliott has posted one top-five and five top 10s this season.
Looking Back at the NASCAR Cup Series on Dirt
The NASCAR Cup Series has had a long legacy of racing at dirt tracks prior to the Modern Era (1972-Present), from 1949 to 1970 the series competed in 501 races on dirt. The very first NASCAR Cup Series points-paying sanctioned race in the inaugural season of 1949 was on dirt at Charlotte (Old) Speedway, a 0.75-mile track in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the event was won by Jim Roper driving a Lincoln.
Including this past season’s dirt race at Bristol, the 502 all-time dirt Cup races have produced 77 different winners. NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty leads the series in dirt track wins with 46 victories; followed by Buck Baker with 42 and Herb Thomas with 41. Joey Logano is the only active driver with a win on dirt in the NASCAR Cup Series.
|Top 10 NASCAR Cup Series Winners On Dirt|
|Rank||Cup Dirt Winners||Wins|
This week the competitors will be tasked with wrangling a Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track that has been measured to be exactly 0.5-mile, and this weekend’s event will be 125 miles (250 laps) in length. The race will be broken up into three stages of 75/75/100 laps.
Cole Custer has his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang on the pole with Christopher Bell lining up beside him. Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe, also in a Mustang, will start from row two.
FORD IN THE NASCAR CUP SERIES AT BMS
- Ford has 40 all-time series wins at BMS (including 1 at the dirt track).
- Joey Logano is the defending winner of the Bristol Dirt Race.
- Ford has 101 all-time Cup dirt victories.
FORD’S CUP DIRT WINNERS
Ned Jarrett (26), Junior Johnson (11), Fireball Roberts (10), Dick Hutcherson (8), Curtis Turner (4), Marvin Panch (4), Ralph Moody (4)
It was Chase Briscoe(14) who drove between the two front-row cars in Turn Two to lead the field on Lap One. Christopher Bell(20) latched on to his rear bumper as they quickly pulled away from the rest of the field.
It only took 12 laps for the lead duo to catch and pass last place Kevin Harvick(4) putting him a lap down. The caution was displayed on Lap 13, allowing all the cars to come to pit road to have the mud cleaned from their grilles. Positions were fixed as the cars returned to the track in the order they were when the yellow came out.
On the restart, Kyle Larson(5) advanced three positions to take over the second spot with Ty Dillon(42) moving up to third, Bell dropped to fourth, and into a battle with Kyle Busch(18).
On Lap 48, Briscoe drove high into Turn Three and got loose allowing Larson to take over first place. Briscoe cut a tire and spun off Turn Two on the next lap, bringing out the caution and sending him to the pits for a tire change.
Larson held the lead on the restart with Briscoe having to take the green from the rear of the field. With the moisture worked out of the track grilles remained clear and a mild dust cloud enveloped the track. Two distinct racing grooves were developed on the track, but cars mostly ran in line around the topline except to pass.
Justin Allgaier(77) slipped high and made contact with the Turn Three wall on Lap 74, bringing out the caution, ending the Stage, and locking in the win for Larson
Stage 1 Results
|10||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||1|
*Ford Mustang Drivers
Stage-ending pit stops are conducted without changes in position, except drivers can choose not to come to pit road and move to the front of the field. Daniel Suarez(99), Ross Chastin(1), and Briscoe opted to exercise that option at the end of Stage One.
It will be interesting to see if fresh tires and adjustments are more important than track position when racing resumes. Briscoe had been trapped at the back of the field after his stop for the cut tire in Stage One.
Suarez held the lead on the restart, blocking the move by Larson on the high side. Larson solidified the second position ahead of Chastain. Bell and Briscoe battled each other for the fourth spot with the number 14 car prevailing.
Briscoe quickly caught and passed Chastain as the top three pulled away from the rest of the field. Alex Bowman(48) spun from 15th place on Lap 91 bringing out the caution for the fifth time.
This time on the restart Larson lines up next to the inside of Suarez with Briscoe inside of Chastain on row two. Chastain pushed Suarez to the lead as Larson got caught in traffic and battled for third.
A lap later Harvick, Corey LaJoie(7), Noah Gragson(16), and Bowman, got together at the back of the pack on the backstretch and the yellow was waved again.
Trackhouse racing occupies the front row on this restart with Suarez again on the outside. As the field dropped into line the top five were Suarez, Chastain, Kyle Busch, Bell, and Briscoe. It was reported that rain was in the area so drivers are picking up the pace.
Darrell Waltrip, the guest announcer in the Fox TV booth for this race was touting his iconic “vortex effect” that race cars at speed create enough turbulence to keep showers at bay. Unfortunately, it does not work at caution speeds. The race will become official after Lap 125.
Kevin Harvick was knocked out of the race after 100 laps. Not a happy camper, Harvick unloaded during his media interview.
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Latte Ford Mustang
WHAT CAN YOU TELL US? “The first thing I can tell you is we did a terrible job prepping the track and full of mud and there was nobody here to pack the track, so we all look like a bunch of bozos coming in to pit because we don’t know how to prep the track. And then we don’t get the lucky dog for whatever reason with two cars on pit road, and then we got run over. I don’t know who ran us over at the end.”
AFTER YOU GOT YOUR LAP BACK WHAT DID YOU FEEL LIKE? “I had a great car. The racetrack was fine. They just did a terrible job to start with. They’ve done this before, but, obviously, it doesn’t look like it.”
WILL YOU GO AND TALK TO THEM OR SAY SOMETHING? “You can’t talk to them.”
YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO. “Might be, but if I had my choice we wouldn’t be doing this anyway.”
DO YOU THINK THIS IS SOMETHING THAT’S SALVAGEABLE? “What’s the point, really?”
THE POINT IS SOMETHING DIFFERENT AND GOING BACK TO THE SPORTS’ GRASSROOTS. “I guess the TV ratings will tell that. If the TV ratings are high, it’ll be great.”
YOU REALLY LIKED THIS TRACK THE WAY IT WAS, RIGHT? “I think Bristol is a great racetrack, but it must not have been what everybody liked.”
PRETTY FRUSTRATED? “I think it’s ridiculous that we’re doing what we’re doing anyway.”
Austin Dillon(3) and Brad Keselowski(6) got together on Lap 113 and further slowed the race with another caution period.
With the restart at Lap 118, Suarez and Bell raced side-by-side for the lead with Larson lurking close behind in third. The eighth caution of the race came out on Lap 125 for debris on the backstretch, still no rain.
Back to green on Lap 130, like the start of the race, Briscoe forced himself into the middle groove and took over second. However, before they could complete a lap, LaJoie was involved in another incident with Harrison Burton(21), and Bubba Wallace(23) for the ninth caution.
Restarting on Lap 138, Suarez and Briscoe on the front row, Chase Elliott(9), and Bell on row two. Briscoe pulled away, with Bell right behind him as Suarez gave up the lead, but held off Elliott.
Stage 2 Results
*Ford Mustang Drivers
Anticipating rain, 16 drivers stayed on the track during the Stage ending break. Kyle Busch, Joey Logano(22), and Ryan Blaney(12) sat at the front of the line.
The Final Stage
A light sprinkle began during the Stage ending break. Because NASCAR stops scoring after Lap 150, the drivers that stayed out will not gain the track position until the green flag drops for the start of the Final Stage. So if the rain does not stop Chase Briscoe will be declared the winner.
Track officials reported if they did not lose the track to a downpour that it could be prepped for racing in a matter of 30 minutes. The rain finally diminished and drivers were called to their cars. Weather radar indicates there may be a window that could allow for completion of the race.
When the green flag drops it will be Kyle Busch, Logano, Blaney, Tyler Reddick(8), and Austin Dillon(3) at the front of the field. Ross Chastain was unable to get his car to retire and retired from the race with a broken engine.
Kyle Busch did not get a good restart and faded to sixth. Reddick took the lead with Logano in second. Starting 17th, Brisco quickly moved up to 12th in just six laps.
Rick Stenhouse Jr.(47) spun in Turn Three bringing out the caution on Lap 161. The incident occurred directly in front of Suarez and Elliott as they were making their way back towards the front. Cody Ware(51) was also involved and thought Elliott was overly aggressive in trying to gain positions.
Big moves are made on restarts, on this one Dillon moved to second, Kyle Busch was back to third, and Logano dropped to fourth. Erik Jones(43) spun off Turn Two to put the race under the 13th caution of the evening.
Restarting on the bottom seems to be the problem as Logano was able to pass Dillon when the race went back to green. But, only for two laps as Todd Gilliland(38) went around putting the race back under caution.
Kyle Busch was the man on the move this time the race went back to green. A big run on the outside moved him from fifth to second, dropping Logano to third. When positions settled out it was Reddick, Kyle Busch, Keselowski, Logano, and Dillon in fifth. Chase Briscoe had worked his way back into the top 10 running in sixth.
Restarting with 40 laps to go, Dillon’s car lost power near the front of the field. Almost the whole pack missed the number three car until Kurt Busch(45), bringing up the rear of the field, got squeezed into the outside wall.
Down to the 29 laps to go and the restart is bound to get more crazy. Reddick and Kyle Busch, Briscoe, and Logano are set to battle it out.
NASCAR waived off the restart as the rain returned. The cars were pulled down the pit road and brought to a stop as this time the shower appears to be more intense. Fortunately, the stronger rain was short-lived and the packer cars were quickly back on track to squeeze out the excess moisture.
The rain stopped again and the field was lined up and ready to take the green with 24 laps to go. The top four held their position but Briscoe worked his way around Kyle Busch after going door-to-door for seven laps. He then began to reel in Reddick.
With 10 laps to go Briscoe had closed to three-car lengths, but laps were running out. With three laps to go the leaders caught lapped traffic. With two laps to go Briscoe was on his bumper.
On the final lap Briscoe dove under Reddick in Turn Three trying to put the slide job on the leader. The two collided and spun in Turn Four. Reddick was able to get his car straightened out, but the loss of momentum allowed Kyle Busch to swing around the outside and pass him just before the start/finish line. Briscoe finished 22nd.
Briscoe walked up to Reddick on pit road after the race and apologized for taking him out of position for the win. Reddick graciously accepted the apology, saying he should have done a better job of driving away and denying Briscoe the shot at him.
It was the 18th consecutive season Busch has scored a victory in the Cup series, tying Richard Petty’s all-time record.
|1||William Byron||295||In Win (2)|
|2||Alex Bowman||273||In Win|
|3||Kyle Busch||273||In Win|
|4||Ross Chastain||250||In Win|
|5||Kyle Larson||249||In Win|
|6||Chase Briscoe*||245||In Win|
|7||Austin Cindric*||222||In Win|
|8||Denny Hamlin||159||In Win|
|12||Martin Truex Jr.||253||+41|
|NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Cut Line|
*Ford Mustang Driver
Results of the Food City Dirt Race from Bristol Motor Speedway
|21||19||Martin Truex Jr.||250|
|29||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||240|