NASCAR Bristol Race Report – Slidin’ Around in Dirt

Glenn David, Staff Writer


For over 50 years, NASCAR raced on asphalt, and only asphalt, until now, at Bristol, they are back on dirt for the Cup Series. A regular asphalt track is the kind of track people would normally see when they watch NASCAR. The track uses asphalt, which is what everyone drives on normally. It’s the pavement, just your typical, everyday, same old pavement. But here, it’s dirt racing, meaning the race is on dirt. There is a layer of sawdust to protect the asphalt racetrack, which is normally used, and then there is dirt and clay above that layer of sawdust. A dirt track is what it sounds like, and in the race, dust will be flying all over the place. Think of it as off-roading with sports cars, but the ground is more even, or think of it as just a dusty road. A very dusty one. On these kinds of tracks, grip is very much necessary as the ground isn’t very flat, but is slightly uneven. The tyres have been changed from slicks, which are tyres with no grooves and very flat, to tyres similar to our everyday tyres to provide the grip the cars need. 


This is a rare occasion as this is the only race in the cup series that’s on dirt this year. The last time they did this was on September 30, 1970  in North Carolina. It is very rare that the NASCAR cup series races on dirt, with the most recent over half a century ago. The race had been postponed to Monday due to rain, but wasn’t cancelled, luckily. Martin Truex Jr, from New Jersey, won the truck series earlier Monday, and  the Cup cars are on that same track to race. Almost 51 years ago, Richard Petty won the last cup series race on dirt, making this race historic. Now, a new generation is here to win it again. It’s time to get started!


When the green flag is down Denny Hamlin is first one off, as he is in pole position. Pole position is the first position, the one at the very front.  Denny Hamlin leads on lap 1, but Kyle Busch in the number 18 Toyota steals first position not so long after, which he takes for a few more laps. Lap 9, Truex Jr in the number 19 Toyota steals the lead from Kyle Busch. Kyle Busch pits during lap 11 due to some issues with the car. Most, if not all cars, had dirt stuck on their front grilles after going around a few times, causing some cars to overheat their engines, but the dirt could be cleaned off at pit stops. 


The crashes mainly happened due to loss of grip and of visibility issues with all the dust that was flying around. Here’s one because of loss of grip: Caution because Anthony Alfredo (38), Corey Lajoie (7) , Aric Almirola (10) and Shane Golobic (78) were involved in a crash where Aric Almirola (10) caught some dirt on the side, which made him lose some traction, and that caused the other cars to hit the others. That yellow caution flag had come out, but because there was quite a bit of damage and 5 cars involved, that caution turned to a red flag, and the race was stopped. The green flag came back five laps later. Surprisingly, a caution came out on the next lap. Another crash happened when Christopher Bell in the number 20 Toyota went on the outside, where it’s wet and a bit slippery after the water truck came around to prepare the track.  When Christopher Bell (20) turned, the car lost grip, which caused the car to turn more than needed and spin. Kyle Larson (42) was able to continue, even though he was involved in the crash, but Ross Chastain (5) wasn’t so lucky. There was quite a bit of damage, and Bell (20) had some contact on Harvick (4), but Harvick (4) was fine. Because of the crash, Christopher Bell went over to the in-field medical center, which is where they check the driver for injuries after a crash. Bell came out okay, and he’s out of the race. Another Caution when Quin Houff (00), Austin Dillon (3), Kyle Larson (5), Ryan Blaney (12), Kyle Busch (18), Michael McDowell (34), Ryan Preece (37), Alex Bowman (48), Cody Ware (51), JJ Yelley (53)  involved due to the dust and sun creating little visibility. They were collected and got in a wreck, luckily it was in the back. Because of the dirt that has been stirred up and the sun, the drivers were having difficulty seeing what was in front of them and what was going on, and because of the low visibility, there was a pileup, but all cars were able to drive away from the crash. 


Martin Truex Jr. wins stage 1, followed by William Byron with Denny Hamlin behind. Joey Logano wins the second stage after nabbing first position from Daniel Suarez. For the last few laps Logano has first, and with 4 laps to go, 66 has spun out. The yellow caution flag is out, and NASCAR is in overtime. During the last lap, Denny Hamlin takes the outside to see if he can get more grip and get past Logano, but there he couldn’t find any, and falls back to third place as being on the outside slowed him down.