For the first time in 50 years, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to a dirt track with Sunday’s race at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway. Drivers and fans alike are closely watching the weather forecast because the state has recently dealt with severe weather. This includes thunderstorms, flooding, and tornadoes that caused thousands of people to lose power.
As of Saturday morning, The Weather Channel’s Sunday forecast for Bristol predicts a 90% chance of rain with thunderstorms likely. Winds will be WSW at 10 to 20 mph, and some storms could be severe.
Tennessee weather has been more unpredictable than usual this past week, and it’s unclear exactly what the conditions will be when the Food City Dirt Race begins on Sunday afternoon.
The Run-Up to Sunday
Alex Bowman was the fastest at Friday afternoon’s 50-minute practice session on the half-mile track as his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet hit 89.308 mph. Christopher Bell was clocked at 88.999 mph in his No. 20 Toyota to be second fastest. Kyle Busch was third, his teammate Denny Hamlin was fourth, and Kyle Larson completed the top five.
The track was dry when Bowman tweeted the picture below from Friday night, but everyone is preparing for different conditions on Sunday.
Back to the Dirt Track
NASCAR has held a total of 489 Cup Series races on dirt tracks in its history. Richard Petty won the most recent one at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, N.C., so you know that was a while back: 1970 to be exact! More recently, however, Petty has spoken out against NASCAR dirt track races.
NASCAR’s Food City Dirt Race is 133 miles and requires 250 laps to complete on the .533 mile Bristol Motor Speedway track. The first Food City Dirt Race was in 1961 and was the inaugural event at Bristol. For those keeping score at home, Darrell Waltrip has the record for most Bristol victories as a driver with 12 wins. With 21 wins, Junior Johnson is the owner with the most victories there.
As for Sunday’s race, NASCAR drivers are looking forward to it despite the odds of inclement weather. Kyle Busch summed up many of the racers’ attitudes about the track on Twitter.
Kyle Larson added: “They don’t drive anything like what I’m used to with a sprint car, midget or now a dirt late model. These cars are way heavier and have a lot less horsepower than I’m used to on a dirt track.”
The NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway begins at 3:30 pm ET on Sunday. Watch the live broadcast on Fox or PRN. If you don’t have cable, listen on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.