June 20, 2024

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Many drivers weigh in on the Bristol dirt debate

Many drivers weigh in on the Bristol dirt debate
With the status of the Food City Dirt Race up in the air for 2024, and beyond, many drivers are weighing in on whether the NASCAR Cup Series should be competing in dirt-covered Bristol, or on dirt at all. PC: Jonathan McCoy | TobyChristie.com

Since the Food City Dirt Race debuted at Bristol Motor Speedway, there have been many drivers and industry members alike who have come together to say that the half-mile dirt oval is no place for a NASCAR event.

Whether it’s because they don’t think Bristol Motor Speedway should lose history on its concrete surface to be covered in dirt, or because they don’t believe the NASCAR Cup Series belongs in dirt, this faction of people has been singing the same tune for several years.

For the third year in a row, the debate was a heated topic in the week leading up to the event, with many drivers giving different answers, some in favor of racing on dirt, some against it.

Kyle Larsonarguably one of the best dirt racers in the country, is one of the drivers who believes the Bristol dirt race should be cancelled, going so far as to say that the NASCAR Cup Series does not belong in dirt, at all.

“I think we all really enjoy the concrete surface here in Bristol,” said Larson. “I think the crowd is usually bigger, at this point now for the concrete stuff. Yeah, it’s up to the series and the promoters, but I’d like to go back to having a couple of races on the concrete here.”

After finishing third in the Food City dirt race on Sunday, Austin Dillon He was very pleased not only with the outcome of Sunday’s event but also with the exciting nature of the 250-lap event, in which he scored his third-place finish of the season.

“I mean, it has to speak for itself, I mean it was probably one of the best races – I don’t know what other people think, that was one of the best races of the year,” said Dillon. “I could see the guys going about their errands, running against the fence, bumping into each other, and they’re pretty clean for what it was because you can get to people.”

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The 32-year-old driver, who won the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Eldora Speedway, paid off the excellent efforts of Speedway Motorsports Inc. For track preparation, which Dillon stated was in perfect condition.

“I’ve been in a lot of asphalt racing this year that haven’t been nearly as good.”

Bubba WallaceAnd However, a different issue has posed as the NASCAR Cup Series continues on the dirt surface of Bristol Motor Speedway, which includes the recent prioritization of entertainment value over the race itself.

“We were told last week that this is an entertainment business, so it worries me that on some racetracks it doesn’t matter because it’s entertainment. So if it’s here to stay, it’s here to stay.”

Still, in general, Wallace agrees with the idea, put forward by Kyle Larson, that Bristol Motor Speedway should return to its original format, a half-mile concrete track, saying that the new format of the track may “appear to run” and that it is “on Ready to get back into concrete.”

Chase BriscoeAnd Another driver with an extensive background in dirt racing also mulled over it, saying that although he believed the NASCAR Cup Series should be raced on dirt, he wasn’t completely sold on the idea of ​​being at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“We definitely need a dirt race, the only thing is you want to see it on a real dirt track, right, but the infrastructure for a normal dirt track isn’t really the infrastructure to host a Cup race, so, that’s the hard way if we’re going to keep it on a track,” Briscoe said. NASCAR, then maybe the New Hampshire track will work. I know ARCA runs on dirt miles, and I feel like this is a trail you can put dirt on and it might be fine. “

Mitchell, of Indiana also offered a potential solution to the problem of needing a real dirt track, suggesting that the NASCAR Cup Series travel to Roseburg, Ohio to compete at Eldora Speedway, a track owned by Briscoe team owner Tony Stewart.

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“I feel like Eldora would be the perfect answer, but maybe it doesn’t have the infrastructure from a hotel standpoint and things like that to do a Cup race, and then again in all the other dirt races it’s max capacity and they’ve made it work anyway,” he continued. Briscoe. “I don’t know, I think if we were going to an actual dirt track, I’d like to see it at Eldora, I feel like it’s kind of the perfect racetrack for us.”

Interestingly enough, the NASCAR Truck Series competed at Eldora Speedway from 2013 to 2020, until the half-mile dirt oval chose not to renew its contract with the sanctioning body before the 2021 season, leaving the sanctioning body to move to both Bristol Dirt. and Knoxville Raceway

After scoring a top five finish on Sunday, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. He also mentioned the possibility of NASCAR returning to Eldora Speedway, while also giving insight into the reasons behind the excellent racing at the third annual Food City Dirt Race.

“I feel like the racetrack is really wide, really smooth, and I feel like it’s going to be kind of hard to come up with anything better,” said Stenhouse. “I think the banking helps with a dirt track. The race at Knoxville it looked like they just ended up on the bottom most of the time because the top is as flat as the bottom and there is no advantage to really going up there.”

Like Briscoe, the Olive Branch, the Mississippi native cites the seven-year success of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Eldora Speedway, saying he always thought they put on a decent show, “especially when they finally worked it out.”

Just a day earlier though, Stenhouse had stated that he didn’t think the NASCAR Cup Series should run on dirt at Bristol, saying the event was over, but offered another unique solution, similar to that of Chase Briscoe.

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“I don’t think we should get dirty here,” Stenhouse said on Saturday. “I think Bristol puts such good racing in its natural form, and I’d rather do that. I’d rather put dirt on like Martinsville or something, I guess that place isn’t much… I don’t like it.”

WINNER OF THE 2023 FOOD CITY DIRT RACE, Christopher Bellhe appeared fairly unfazed by the potential discussion for Bristol to return to two concrete surface events in 2024, and beyond, saying it would be fine no matter what happens.

I don’t know. I think that is up to the public to decide. From my seat it looked like it was a good race,” Bell said. “This is also one of the best short courses we have on the schedule. I don’t know, maybe we have three races in Bristol, maybe that’s not likely. Yes, I’m good either way.”

from a stranger’s perspective, Jonathan Davenport He had a couple of interesting quotes about the prospects of racing a NASCAR Cup Series race on dirt, after he was taken out in an accident just before the end of the Food City dirt race on Sunday.

“I don’t know anything about this kind of dirt racing,” said Davenport. “I would classify this as more of a show than a race, really. I mean, these cars are not designed to race on dirt, so I don’t know, I mean, it’s cool, it’s different, it’s new, but this isn’t real dirt racing, but it’s just something different. “

NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports Inc. A critical decision must be made for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season and beyond, as both sides work to determine whether or not food city dirt racing will return for a fourth season.

Even so, the testimony given this weekend by some of NASCAR’s most talented drivers, who also come from a dirt racing background, or still race regularly on dirt, in the case of Larson and Briscoe, sounds pretty exciting.