This week, NASCAR‘s finest roll into Martinsville for the shortest track of the season. After conquering The Paperclip, the drivers will meet yet another challenge next week in the Bristol Motor Speedway, the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. Typically an all-concrete track, the Bristol Motor Speedway will be covered in dirt for the second consecutive NASCAR season.
Though the banking of the track is slightly different this year, with the bottom lane dropped from 18 degrees to 16, NASCAR Cup Series drivers will essentially race in the exact same track with the exact same surface as last year.
Memorable Moments of the 2021 NASCAR Season:— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) December 13, 2021
No. 11 – The idea of putting dirt on Bristol and racing Cup cars on it seemed to be a grand experiment. And it was. Joey Logano went on to win the race. pic.twitter.com/PiS8QaVZFs
This year’s contest will still be a completely different experience for the drivers, however, as the race will take place at night rather than during daylight hours. This decision was made in an effort to cut down on the massive dust clouds that obstructed the track last year. Additionally, next weekend’s race marks Cup Series drivers’ first time on a dirt track in their Next Gen stock cars.
Built with durability and adaptability in mind, the Next Gen cars should have no problem in next week’s flight. With a quick removal of the rear defuser that comes close to touching the ground on asphalt tracks, the Next Gens cars will be ready to roll.
Just to be sure, however, NASCAR took a Next Gen car to Bristol a week early for a test run.
The NASCAR Next Gen Test in the Bristol Motor Speedway
In preparation for next week’s Food City Dirt Race, NASCAR loosed a Next Gen car on the Bristol Motor Speedway. With NASCAR Truck Series driver Stewart Friesen behind the wheel, fans and drivers alike got an early glimpse of what to expect when the night race arrives.
As is the expectation for the actual race, the rear defuser was removed from Friesen’s car before the test run, along with a few other small alterations to the bottom of the vehicle.
Last year’s race in Bristol saw Alex Bowman conquer opening practice with a 20.155. However, it was Joey Logano who emerged from overtime with the checkered flag. This made him the first Cup Series driver to win on dirt in more than 50 years.
With eight races behind them going into Bristol, the drivers should have a fairly firm grasp of their Next Gen cars. That said, The Last Great Colosseum will still undoubtedly throw a few unexpected curveballs at the Cup Series drivers. Next week’s Food City Dirt Race should be an interesting and exciting competition.