The NASCAR Cup Series is about to do something it hasn't attempted in 50 years — race on dirt.
Bristol Motor Speedway has trucked 23,000 cubic yards of dirt into its famed bullring to host NASCAR's first Cup Series race on literal earth since 1970. But how the dirt — and the tires — will hold up during the race is still to be determined.
The drivers had a blast playing in the dirt — some for the first time since they were kids — but four Friday practice sessions ultimately showed the tires can't sustain the heavy wear. The three layers of dirt acted as a cheese-grater and the tires in turn dug deep divots into the surface, forcing NASCAR to make several procedural changes Saturday in a desperate bid to save the show.
So, who will conquer the unique track? Will the Cup Series see its seventh winner in seven races? Here's all the information you need to get ready for Sunday's Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway:
Bristol Motor Speedway has been turned into a dirt track for Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series and Truck Series races. (Photo: Randy Sartin, USA TODAY Sports)
START TIME: 3:30 p.m. ET. Green flag is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.
TV: Fox. Pre-race broadcast begins at 2 p.m. ET.
RADIO: Peformance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
STREAMING: Fox Sports Go (must have TV provider) and FOX Sports app plus other streaming providers.
RACE DISTANCE: 250 laps around the dirt track at Bristol Motor Speedway for a total of 125 miles.
STAGE LENGTHS (laps per stage): Stage 1: 100, Stage 2: 100, Stage 3: 50. There will be a competition caution at lap 50 in Stage 1 and Lap 150 in Stage 2.
LAST TIME: Kevin Harvick led 226 of 500 laps on the normal pavement in the 2020 playoff race on Sept. 19 to win for the third time at Bristol. Harvick edged Kyle Busch by 0.310 seconds. And 10 months ago in the Food City Presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 — also on the normal pavement — Brad Keselowski led 115 of 500 laps and held off Clint Bowyer by 0.471 seconds to also win his third Bristol Cup race.
QUALIFYING: Four 15-lap qualifying races were scheduled for Saturday to set the starting lineup, but rain forced NASCAR to cancel the heat races and set the starting lineup using its formula based on performance metrics.
LINEUP: Kyle Larson was awarded the pole, but his No. 5 Chevrolet is expected to drop to the rear of the 39-car field after his Hendrick Motorsports crew changed engines following Friday’s final practice. Denny Hamlin claimed the second starting spot.
Here is the lineup for the Food City Dirt Race (with car number in parentheses):
1. (5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet
2. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota
3. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford
4. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota
5. (19) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota
6. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford
7. (48) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet
8. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet
9. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet
10. (22) Joey Logano, Ford
11. (17) Chris Buescher, Ford
12. (21) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford
13. (47) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Chevrolet
14. (6) Ryan Newman, Ford
15. (20) Christopher Bell, Toyota
16. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford
17. (42) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet
18. (99) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet
19. (23) Bubba Wallace, Toyota
20. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford
22. (41) Cole Custer, Ford
22. (37) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet
23. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford
24. (43) Erik Jones, Chevrolet
25. (14) Chase Briscoe, Ford
26. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet
27. (8) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet
28. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet
29. (38) Anthony Alfredo, Ford
30. (7) Corey Lajoie, Chevrolet
31. (51) Cody Ware, Chevrolet
32. (77) Stewart Friesen, Chevrolet
33. (00) Quin Houff, Chevrolet
34. (53) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet
35. (78) Shane Golobic, Ford
36. (15) Chris Wimdom, Chevrolet
37. (52) Josh Bilicki, Ford
38. (66) Mike Marlar, Toyota
39. (96) Ty Dillon, Toyota
Contributing: The Associated Press
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