NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart Will Drive Inside Football Stadium

by Chris Haney
(Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)

On Tuesday, retired NASCAR legends Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, and Clint Bowyer will test out the sport’s newest cars inside a football stadium.

The trio will test drive NASCAR’s Next Gen Cup Series cars, which are set to debut next season. They’ll take the new cars for a spin tomorrow inside of Bowman Gray stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Bowman Gray is unique in that it’s a dual-use stadium. The historic facility is home to the Winston-Salem State University Rams’ football team. In addition, a quarter-mile raceway surrounds the team’s football field. The stadium opened more than 80 years ago in 1937 and has a NASCAR-sanctioned track. From 1958 to 1971, Bowman Gray held numerous Cup Series events when they were still called the Grand National Series.

Three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart will act as an official test driver for Goodyear. He’ll help determine what tires are best suited for the Next Gen car’s debut at The Clash exhibition race in February. The exhibition race will be held inside of another football stadium, albeit a temporary track, when they kick off the new season inside of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Additionally, Earnhardt Jr. and Boyer will test drive the cars as well. They were offered the opportunity to drive the new cars to further their knowledge and be able to share insight on the new cars as NASCAR analysts.

NASCAR 2022 Season Kicking Off With First Race at L.A. Memorial Coliseum

Last month, NASCAR officials revealed the huge announcement that the sport would move their preseason race for the first time in years. Typically, Daytona International Speedway plays host to the exhibition. Since 1979, the event has helped garner interest for the first race of the season – the Daytona 500.

However, officials got creative this year and struck a deal to send NASCAR to Hollywood. On Feb. 6, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will welcome NASCAR for the first time in its storied history. The stadium has held the Super Bowl, the World Series, and multiple Summer Olympics. But now it can add “The Clash at the Coliseum” to its long list of famous sporting events.

Workers will install a temporary quarter-mile track inside the historic stadium. The Coliseum is the home of the University of Southern California Trojans football team. It seats more than 77,000 fans, so it’ll be quite a debut for the Next Gen Cup Series cars.

NASCAR senior vice president of strategy and innovation Ben Kennedy opened up about NASCAR’s exhibition race plans. He called the move to bring the sport to the L.A. Coliseum an “innovative opportunity.”

“Los Angeles is synonymous with major sports and entertainment events. So we seized an innovative opportunity to showcase NASCAR at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum,” Kennedy explained. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to take center stage in this market as we get our 2022 season underway.”