TEAM CHEVY ADVANCE FOOD CITY DIRT RACE BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY BRISTOL, TENNESSEE MARCH 28, 2021
RACE #7 – BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAYOne of the most highly-anticipated events on the revamped 2021 NASCAR schedule, the NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) will return to the dirt for the first time in over 50 years as the .533-mile oval of Bristol Motor Speedway is converted to dirt for the sport’s first visit to the venue this season. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) will also be joining in on the action at the Tennessee short track, who will compete in the first of two dirt races on the Series’ schedule for the 2021 season.
There have been 489 NASCAR Cup Series races contested on dirt from June 1949 to September 1970, which was won by Richard Petty at the half-mile North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.
The NCWTS schedule has included at least one race on dirt since 2013, though the 2020 event was canceled because of COVID-19. A second dirt race is scheduled for July at the famed half-mile of Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa.
Chevrolet NCS drivers Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez will do double duty this weekend. Larson won the NCWTS race at the Eldora Speedway dirt oval in 2016. Also entered is Myatt Snider, who is seventh in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings in the No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro SS.
The NCS 250-lap Food City Dirt Race will be telecast on FOX at 3:30 p.m. EDT Sunday, March 28. FS1 will telecast the 150-lap Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt at 8:00 p.m. EDT Saturday, March 27.
DILLON PREPS WITH WIN ON DIRTRichard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon tuned up for the Bristol race weekend by winning the 604 Late Model feature last Saturday, March 20, on the high-banked oval as part of the Bristol Dirt Nationals. Dillon started from the pole and led all 20 laps.
Kyle Larson and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott also got in laps in competition at the Bristol Dirt Nationals. Larson was runner-up in the 40-lap Super Late Model feature. Larson is the reigning champion of the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals and also won a Late Model race on dirt this year, making the 28-year-old California native one of the favorites to capture the victory of this historic event.
WELCOMING WINDOM FOR THE WEEKENDUnited States Auto Club (USAC) Triple Crown champion Chris Windom is among the 39 entries for the NCS race. He will drive the No. 15 NOS Energy Drink Camaro ZL1 1LE for Rick Ware Racing in partnership with his USAC sprint car team, Hayward Motorsports.
LARON MOVES TO SECONDAfter matching his career-best finish of second at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Larson moved from a tie for fifth in the Driver Standings to second. Larson led 269 of the 325 laps on the 1.5-mile oval and recorded two stage wins.
Larson, No. 5 Freightliner Camaro ZL1 1LE, is among three drivers with five top-10 finishes in the six races. Homestead-Miami Speedway winner William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Camaro ZL1 1LE, is eighth and Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1 1LE, rounds out the top-10 in the standings.
HEAT RACES TO DETERMINE LINEUPSThe race weekend kicks off with a pair of 50-minute practice sessions for both the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Friday, March 26. Saturday’s events kick off with heat races, which will determine the starting lineups for each main event. Both series will run four 15-lap heats, with the lineup for each heat determined by random draw. The starting lineup will be determined by a formula that weighs finishing position plus passing points from positions gained during each heat. BOWTIE BULLETS· Chevrolet leads manufacturers with 640 laps led – 200 more than its closest competitor – and in top-10 finishes with 26.
· Chevrolet has 797 NASCAR Cup Series wins to lead all manufacturers.
· Kyle Larson paces all drivers with 379 laps led in the six races.
· Kyle Larson is one of just two drivers to complete every lap thus far this season. Austin Dillon has completed all but one of the 1,441 laps.
· Chase Elliott (Daytona Road Course), William Byron (Homestead-Miami Speedway) and Kyle Larson (Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway 2) have stage wins.
TUNE INFOX will telecast the 250-lap Food City Dirt Race live at 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday, March 28. Live coverage can also be found on PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
QUOTABLE QUOTESKYLE LARSON, NO. 5 FREIGHTLINER CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 2nd IN STANDINGSLARSON ON WHAT COMES TO MIND IN ADVANCE OF THE FIRST CUP SERIES DIRT RACE AT BRISTOL: “Anticipation and the unknown. Even me being a dirt racer, I really don’t know what to expect. These (NASCAR Cup Series) cars are way different than what I’m used to racing on dirt. They are way heavier with a lot less power than I’m used to. I think the only thing that transfers from my previous dirt experience to this weekend is how to read the surface and how it changes and evolves throughout the weekend and the race. I may be able to adapt to that quicker than a pavement racer.”
CLIFF DANIELS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 FREIGHTLINER CAMARO ZL1 1LE DANIELS ON PREPARATION FOR THE BRISTOL DIRT RACE: “We have watched a lot of Eldora races, especially the race that Kyle won and others he was close to winning. We’ve talked to (No. 24 crew chief) Rudy (Fugle) a lot and to a lot of friends and contacts in the dirt racing world. We’ve studied everything we can possibly study to make good decisions. We’ve talked with Kyle a lot since he ran the super late model last weekend to see what he would predict or expect – and that is still a bit of an unknown. But we’ll still have to react quickly to whatever challenges are thrown at us this weekend.”
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 8th IN STANDINGSBYRON ON THE CHALLENGES HE EXPECTS RACING ON DIRT: “This weekend is going to be such a challenge. I’m looking forward to it and I think it will be fun. I just don’t know what to expect, honestly. Luckily, iRacing scanned it and we will race virtually Wednesday night. Hopefully, that will help a bit. I think the guys who run dirt normally will have an advantage. Someone like Kyle Larson is going to be fast. It’s going to be a challenge for us asphalt guys. You’ll have to have your elbows up every lap. It’s going to be challenging physically, too, because you’re going to be driving your car hard constantly. There is no saving equipment in dirt racing.”
BYRON ON HOW HE PLANS TO PREPARE FOR SUNDAY’S DIRT RACE: “I didn’t do the best at Eldora (Speedway) but Bristol has more banking, which will give it a different feeling. I’m excited to get there and see what it’s like though. I’m obviously going to talk with Kyle (Larson) some beforehand, but he also doesn’t know what to fully expect in a Cup car there. The biggest thing when it comes to dirt is getting to experience it yourself and watching what everyone else is doing and where they are making speed. I plan to really do that during practice on Friday to see what I can learn and apply to the race on Sunday.”
RUDY FUGLE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1 1LE FUGLE ON RACING ON DIRT AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY: “This weekend’s race will be unlike any other that we’re used to. Just about every way the car is set up is the opposite of what we would normally run. You want the car raised up higher to account for the dirt and bumps but also to allow the right side to really roll over and get the rear tire to catch and grip the track. The main thing is we don’t have any notes on what to expect from the track, but at least we do have practice sessions on Friday to help get acclimated. We’ve also been watching the other races that have been taking place there the last few days to try judge some characteristics of the track as runs go on. The good thing is that we’re really all on the same page going into the event.”
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 10th IN STANDINGS“Just the track surface, to me, is the biggest question and just how the event is going to look from the beginning of the weekend to the end. The racetrack is going to change a lot, I think, throughout the week. Weather can play a factor into that (and) how they water and keep up the track if they do any track prep. That, to me, is probably the biggest question mark in just how they’re going to go about that. Two hundred fifty laps in the sun is a lot on a dirt track. What little bit of experience I have, those tracks lose their moisture very fast when the sun’s out, so if it’s sunny and you’re racing with that many heavy cars on it, I can see the track degrading very quickly.”
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER OFF ROAD CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 11th IN STANDINGSONE THING THAT I’VE HEARD CONSISTENTLY ENOUGH THAT ONCE THE TRACK TAKES ENOUGH RUBBER, IT MIGHT BE A SLOWER VERSION OF WHAT BRISTOL USED TO BE WHEN IT WAS KIND OF BOTTOMING-FEEDING, BUMP-AND-RUN. IS THAT KIND OF FAIR TO SAY?“I think there’s definitely going to be a point where there’s going to be a dominate line everybody is going to be fighting for. The one thing, though, that I noticed at the dirt track last weekend was that you can kind of move around, momentum-wise, to find speed, which is nice. That’s what’s great about dirt racing. As the track goes through transitions, it’s always going to change. There might be a point in the race where, ultimately, you have to be on the bottom and you’ll be fighting for it. But the great thing about dirt racing is that the track is always changing. So, it’ll go through so many transitions throughout the race and that’s what’s cool about dirt racing. You have to be comfortable with change because it changes throughout the race and to be good at it, you have to search constantly. Even when you’re the leader, the leader is always kind of a moving target. They have to be comfortable; they can’t just get in a line and think that line is going to win them the race. We’re going 250 laps on a dirt track. After 25, the dirt track changes drastically with a lot of cars out on it. So, that’s the great thing about it. It’ll go through so many transitions and the team that is willing to change and move will be the best by the end of it.”
DOES THE WEIGHT OF THE CARS PLAY INTO YOUR FAVOR?“From sprint cars to late models, I definitely think there’s some experience there that helps. Kyle (Larson), he’s driving late models now and doing really well. He about won the big race this past weekend in the super. The weight in those late models, they drive so much different than our Cup cars or a truck. A truck, from what I know in the past, the history that I have in my mind is that they are heavier. You don’t really drive them, I would say, like a late model or a sprint car. Definitely the weight is the biggest thing in the difference in how you drive. Side force, too; I’ll throw that in there. Our cars don’t have the bodies that the late models and sprint cars have wings; they’re just built a lot different to rely on downforce.”
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 14th IN STANDINGSBOWMAN ON HIS DIRT EXPERIENCE: “I’m excited. I may not be a dirt guy, per se, but I probably have more dirt starts than most, I guess, going into Bristol. I ran a couple different midget series for a couple years. While I ran pavement more than dirt, I did run some dirt stuff. I’m going to race my Sprint car this year as well. I definitely enjoy the dirt thing. I’m ready to go. I ran the ARCA race on dirt. I feel like that was somewhat similar. I don’t know what to expect. You saw the track get pretty rough over the last couple nights. But those late models make a lot of grip, do some crazy stuff with the rear suspension that I think probably tends to dig the racetrack up a little bit. Our cars are heavy. We’ll see if they do the same thing or not.”
BOWMAN ON RACING ON DIRT FOR THE FIRST TIME FOR A CUP SERIES RACE: “I’m just excited. I love new and different things. I think going somewhere completely different than what we’ve done in the Cup Series for forever is pretty awesome. Who knows if it’s going to be amazing, not great, what the racetrack is going to do or what’s going to happen. I think the fact that it’s new, different and exciting, is really cool to be a part of.”
GREG IVES, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1 1LE IVES ON BOWMAN’S DIRT EXPERIENCE: “It’s actually really nice that Alex (Bowman) has some dirt experience racing in the midgets and his love for it. I think his background and experience really brings an added bonus to not only myself, but the rest of the race team. I grew up having a little bit of dirt experience, but most of my stuff was on asphalt. I am definitely looking forward to the challenge of not only the new track configuration, but also the challenge of getting back into the routine of practice. I know qualifying is a heat race, but you are just going to have a lot more track time.”
IVES ON THE SPEED OF THE NO. 48 ALLY CHEVROLET: “I feel like we have had speed all year. Incidents on the race track whether it is a tire going down or contact with another car has hampered that finishing position, which ultimately reveals your speed. If you look at when we have been running well and not having those issues, we are capable of top 10s and top fives every week. Our third-place result last week kind of shows that. You can always talk the talk, but unless you walk the walk it doesn’t really matter, and we were able to do that this week. The pit crew was phenomenal, and Alex (Bowman) did a great job on green flag cycles and managing restarts. Every time we came on pit road we picked up spots.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 1 MONSTER ENERGY CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 15th IN STANDINGS“I’m tremendously excited, but I am nervous too. I’m ready to go and experience it all. Just to be out there at a track where I have six wins, but it’s going to be different: it will be colored differently (with the clay), we’ll be slinging mud and I get to learn all about a bias-ply tire that I haven’t driven on since the 90s. The build-up and anticipation for this has had a ton of hype, so I think everybody’s all jacked and ready to go. There are still so many unknowns; what set up do we run, what brakes do we put on it? We just gotta get there and get to work. Then Mother Nature; you check the radar, it’s like we’ve got a possibility of rain Sunday morning, that’s just going to make it muddier, dirtier and filthier!”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., NO. 47 KROGER CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 17th IN STANDINGS“Heading into the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt race this weekend, there are a lot of unknowns but we’re all really excited for it. With my experience racing dirt, I think I’m going to be a little more comfortable heading into the weekend, but these cars drive totally different than racing in my sprint car but I’m ready for the challenge. It’s the same as other race weekends, you have to have a good team and a good car and get it done behind the wheel. Brian Pattie (crew chief) also grew up racing Modifieds on dirt, so I know he and I are going to have a good game plan heading into the weekend and I think we’re going to give the fans a really good show in our No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet with the NOS Energy Drink in-car camera.”
RYAN PREECE, NO. 37 BUSH’S BEANS/KROGER CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 18th IN STANDINGS“I haven’t raced on dirt in more than a decade, but I think this is going to be an awesome challenge for us in the No. 37 BUSH’S Beans/Kroger Chevrolet. We had a really strong start to the season and have just missed it a little bit the last couple of weeks, but this is a perfect opportunity to get the momentum back rolling again. Ricky obviously has a ton of experience dirt racing, so I think we’ve been leaning on each other a little bit to prepare the best we can to be competitive right off the truck starting with practice on Friday.”
DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 CAMPING WORLD CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 23rd IN STANDINGSWHAT WILL BE THE KEY TO SUCCESS AT BRISTOL? “I don’t know how to answer that. I have never been on dirt in my life so I’m not a dirt person. I grew up in Mexico and didn’t even know people raced cars on dirt! That’s wasn’t an option when I was growing up. But, honestly, I’m super excited for the challenge. It will be interesting to see how things play out. I will have to put a lot of work in and try to get better at it quickly.”
HOW BIG OF A DISADVANTAGE WILL IT BE FOR YOU? “Even the guys who have raced on dirt before have never raced a Cup car on dirt. So, it’s going to be a challenge for not just me but them as well. We will see how things play out. I think patience will play a huge role.”
ERIK JONES, NO. 43 TIDE FOOD CITY CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 25th IN STANDINGSWHAT KIND OF EXPECTATIONS DO YOU HAVE GOING INTO THE DIRT RACE AT BRISTOL? AS A DRIVER, WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREPARE FOR THAT? “I don’t know that I have many expectations – it’s kind of a wildcard race for me. I’ve only ran two dirt races ever in my life and those were both in the NASCAR Truck Camping World Truck Series at the Eldora Speedway. It’s hard to set an expectation when you don’t really know. For me, I want to go there and survive and be there at the end of the race. We did have some good runs at Eldora in the Trucks, so that’s encouraging. It’s hard to set expectations for that one.”
“As far as preparing for it, you just really need to get into anything on a dirt track before we go there and just get that feel. You want some sense of normalcy when you hop in the car on dirt. You don’t want it to feel totally foreign, even though it will anyways, so just getting some experience in a dirt car is important. I don’t really know that it matters what kind of dirt car it is, but I think that will be valuable for when we get there.”
TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 BETMGM CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 28th IN STANDINGSWHILE THEY WEREN’T NASCAR VEHICLES, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY’S DIRT SURFACE AFTER SEEING THE BRISTOL DIRT NATIONALS TAKE PLACE LAST WEEK?“I saw a lot of great racing and a really fast track for those divisions that ran last week. We saw a couple bumps develop in Turns 3 and 4, likely because of the rain, but overall it was a very fast track for those cars. That’s exciting to me because our Cup cars are so much heavier with more power and less tire underneath us, so we should have some great racing this weekend. I think one thing that will be interesting to see if it unfolds is if two lanes of competitive racing on the track will develop with the Cup cars at the same time. But regardless, from what I saw this past week, I think it’s going to be a good race. It was just really cool to watch. My crew chief, Randall Burnett, and I went up to Bristol last Friday afternoon to check it out, touch the dirt and really understand how it was going so far. To see how quick these late models were going was amazing. 250 laps is a lot for a dirt track, so the track will change quite a bit during the race on Sunday. It should be exciting for fans and I’m looking forward to being behind the wheel of the No. 8 BetMGM Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for it.”
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE TAKEAWAYS FROM YOUR VISIT TO BRISTOL LAST FRIDAY ON HOW THE TRACK HAS BEEN PREPARED? “There’s a lot of things to look at. The track says they took banking out, but it still has a lot of banking in it, so that was wild to see. There’s a lot of dirt on this racetrack, and it’s really incredible to see how they all brought it together. They had a lot of equipment out there and were trying a lot of things on the track this past week. I think it was great Bristol had that week of racing with so many different entries ahead of NASCAR’s weekend there. Bristol now has a better idea of what the track is going to do with so many different cars having been on it, that now they can get the track where they want it to be for us.”
COREY LAJOIE, NO. 7 NASCAR TRUCKS AT KNOXVILLE CAMARO ZL1 1LE – 29th IN STANDINGS“This weekend at Bristol is going to be a new challenge for everybody. It will be the first time we’ve had any sort of practice prior to a race in over a year. I ran a late model last week at Bristol to get familiar with the track, hopefully it translates some to the Cup car. Most of the field has limited experience on dirt so it’ll be the most level playing field we’ve been on in a long time. I’m looking to capitalize on what I learned last weekend at Bristol and rebound for a good result after a rough last couple of weeks.”