NASCAR Teams Prepare for Bristol Dirt Racing Weekend

by Caitlin Berard

Last year, NASCAR Cup Series drivers sped around a dirt track for the first time in over 50 years. The track was such a hit, NASCAR added it to this year’s schedule as well. In a few shorts weeks, NASCAR will roll into The Last Great Colosseum, Bristol Motor Speedway, for the first and only dirt racing weekend of the 2022 season.

In an interview with News Channel 11, ARCA and Truck Series driver Corey Heim gave his thoughts on the upcoming dirt race. “Bristol’s special for sure,” Heim said. “As I mentioned, I’ve raced there a couple of times in my racing career, but it’s been a couple of years so that track changes all the time, and I’m excited to go to Bristol dirt one day, but this year I’ve got the Night Race on the asphalt.”

Ryan Sparks, crew chief at Spire Motorsports, said that he’s anxious for the dirt race in the Next Gen stock cars. As the Gen-7 cars were introduced ahead of the 2022 season, the race at Bristol will be the Cup Series drivers’ first dirt race in the new vehicles. “I was starting to have a little feel for it last year,” Sparks said. “And then just taking a whole new style of race car to race in the dirt that has never done it. It’s going to be interesting.”

NASCAR Team Owner Justin Marks Talks Dirt Racing in Bristol

Trackhouse Racing co-owner, Justin Marks, is all about innovation, so the addition of the dirt track to the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is right up his alley. “The sport’s just so ready for new venues, new challenges, new optics,” Marks said. “It’s embracing the fact that it’s a time where we need to try some new things and sort of reenergizing the sport.”

Last year’s dirt race at Bristol saw NASCAR teams face a few unexpected challenges. After heavy rainfall, the track became too wet and sticky. The sun then dried out the track, making it too dusty. Despite the setbacks, however, the track became an instant hit with NASCAR fans, who were quick to express their approval when BMS announced they would welcome the Cup Series back in 2022.

A major difference in this year’s race is that it will take place at night rather than under the mid-afternoon sun. This should cut down on the huge dust clouds obscuring the view of the cars, a major complaint from NASCAR fans after last year’s contest at Bristol.