BRISTOL — Even Mother Nature couldn’t wash away the huge impact of racing on dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Counting heat races, last-chance qualifiers, fast dash and feature races, there were over 100 races run on the dirt surface over the last six weeks. The events ranged from those geared towards local racers in the Bristol Dirt Nationals to the “Greatest Show on Dirt” with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars.
No event was bigger than the Food City Dirt Race, the first time the NASCAR Cup Series raced on dirt since 1970.
It was the most hyped NASCAR race since the inaugural Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1994. There were some problems with the dust and mud, but overall the event was a huge success with plans to do it again in 2022.
The Karl Kustoms Bristol Dirt Nationals set the tone with a week of racing featuring nearly 1,400 entries. There was great racing throughout the week with Crate Late Models, Modifieds, Street Stocks and the featured Super Late Models.
NASCAR champions Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano all participated. Kyle Larson showed with a pair of runner-up finishes in the Super Late Models why he’s perhaps the most versatile racer on the planet.
The Food City Dirt Race weekend produced surprise winners in Logano capturing the Cup race and Martin Truex Jr. dominating the Truck Series race. Fans came out in a big way to also support the World of Outlaws Late Models and Sprint Car weekends, which featured fast cars purpose-built for dirt racing.
Through it all, the biggest setback was the spring weather with rain forcing the postponement of the NASCAR races and the scheduled Saturday night features for both the World of Outlaws Late Models and Sprint Cars.
Still, reviews from the majority of fans were positive as it brought a ton of attention to the dirt-racing world and gave NASCAR a needed shot in the arm.
Now comes the month-long task of removing the dirt and getting the track ready for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race in September. While it’s a massive undertaking, the dirt racing proved to be more than an experiment, but a huge win for BMS and its parent company, Speedway Motorsports.
Monday was the 25th anniversary of Kingsport Speedway’s first race on concrete after it was coincidentally changed back from a dirt surface. Boyd Sult was the winner of the Late Model feature that day.
Kingsport Speedway was also featured on the C-post of Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 Ford during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Racing returns to the 3/8-mile concrete oval Friday night with action in the NASCAR Advance Auto Weekly Series. Nik Williams, fresh off a win in the season-opener, will try to make it two in a row in a featured 60-lap Late Model Stock race.
Other classes in action are: Sportsman, Mod 4, Pure 4 and Pure Street. Grandstands open at 5 p.m. with racing scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.
The 48th season of racing at the 4/10-mile Bulls Gap dirt track is scheduled to begin Saturday with a special $5 adult grandstand admission and kids 10-under admitted free.
A 25-lap feature for the Crate Late Model headlines the program with 20-lap features for the Sportsman Late Model, Street Stock, Classic, Front Wheel Drive and Mini Late Model classes. Grandstands open at 5 p.m. with racing scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.
LONESOME PINE RACEWAY
Racing is also scheduled Saturday at the 3/8-mile asphalt track in Coeburn, Virginia with the Limited Late Models headlining the action.
Other races include features for the Mod Street, Pure Street, Mod 4 and Pure 4 divisions. Grandstands open at 4 p.m. with racing scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
CHEROKEE RACE PARK
The Rogersville drag strip has its second IHRA Summit SuperSeries points race of the season scheduled for Saturday. Gates open at 10 a.m. with time trials at noon. A test-and-tune session is scheduled for Friday.