Starting in 2021, Cup teams will be competing on a dirt track at Bristol Motor Speedway. This will be the first time in more than half a century the series will use a dirt track. The race will be held on March 28.
The organization will release the full Cup schedule later today (Oct. 1) at 3:30 p.m. ET.
“Bristol Motor Speedway has hosted many historic events over the years and we will be adding to that resume,” Jerry Caldwell, general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, told NBC on Wednesday. “We can’t wait to see how the stars of NASCAR take to the dirt.”
NASCAR and Bristol Motor Speedway will plan the race format.
According to Caldwell, Bristol and NASCAR are working together to plan the race format for the event.
“This is returning to our roots in racing,” Caldwell said. He said there have been discussions about a dirt track for “awhile”. Caldwell also said the track will be exploring ways to incorporate dirt events in other series besides NASCAR.
Driver Austin Dillon, with Richard Childress Racing, is excited to test out the track. He hopes the 2021 track won’t be a one-off.
“I’m super pumped,” Dillion said. “I’m hoping it becomes a staple.”
It’s been 50 years since the series used a dirt track. The last Cup race on a dirt track was on Sept. 30, 1970 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. Hall of Famer Richard Petty won the 200-lap race on that half-mile track. Petty beat out fellow drivers Bobby Isaac, Bobby Allison, and Wendell Scott for the win.
Additionally, the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series has raced on dirt at Eldora Speedway. That started in 2013 and continued until last year. The coronavirus pandemic prevent the race this year. In regards to Bristol, they hosted dirt races in 2000 to 2001, partnering with World of Outlaws.
Feedback from fans helped Bristol and NASCAR come to the decision. Marcus Smith, Speedway Motorsports president and CEO, pitched the idea of a dirt race at Bristol for the 2020 schedule.
On Sept. 18, Bristol will host a more traditional race in the playoffs. That race will be an elimination in the first round event and will take place on a concrete track.