Dirt Tracking Bristol

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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So… NASCAR Cup cars are taking it back to the dirt. That’s something that hasn’t happened in a very long time. I know you’ve heard all about the history of NASCAR on dirt since they decided to make Bristol a dirt track for this year’s race so I won’t repeat all that. It interesting though, 3400 pound racecars on a dirt track for the first time in ages. It is definitely something that should prove to be interesting and drama filled, especially since it is “Bristol Baby!”

The first things that came to my mind when I heard about it was, are they going to make any major changes to the cars to run on dirt since they haven’t done it in so long and what will they do if it rains? Well, the answer to the first question is in the hands of NASCAR and the second answer is, “I don’t know.”

I’ve heard many say they think the drivers that have a lot of dirt track experience will have an advantage over the rest of the field. I have also heard many say they think the advantage will go to those with little to no dirt experience but have natural talent for the dirt. When it comes to this fan’s view, I think there will be a lot of things that figure into the final results and one of those will be how fast the drivers adapt to the difference of racing on dirt. Dirt and asphalt may have some similarities but, the two are not the same in setup or in the way the two are driven.

When I think about NASCAR Cup teams dirt track racing, I go back to when I was growing up in Southern Illinois. In my hometown, we actually had two dirt tracks. Both of them were frequented by drivers from all over the state of Illinois and the racing was always exciting. I even remember watching some of the older drivers on what I remember as the one mile dirt track at the fairgrounds at Duquoin, IL. it was also where they raced the Sulkies and other horse racing. Admittedly, that was a very long time ago and I was just a kid at the time so some things are a bit faded but, I do remember there were some big names in racing at that time there. Most of you wouldn’t know them even if I told you.

Needless to say, I still have a lot of questions of how the racing will go on Sunday afternoon. Now that they’ve had trucks and cars on the track, I have to wonder if they will do some work to the track itself. At the time of this writing, I had only seen the practice sessions and was surprised at the amount of dust being generated by the cars on the track, especially at the final practice session. I mean, it’s been a long time since I’ve actually been to a dirt track but, I don’t remember my hometown tracks having so much dust in the air even when they had special events in the hot summer afternoons. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there wasn’t dust being thrown up in the air at those times. I’m just saying I don’t remember it. I also know the tracks were awfully slippery to walk on and I was surprised to find that out when we would visit the pits after a race.

Another one of those first things to enter my mind when I heard about Bristol going to dirt was, how well prepared are the teams to deal with dirt clogging things up and causing overheating and other problems. What I saw in the last practice session showed an awfully large amount of dust in the air and it made me wonder if it was going to clog the radiators or the air filters and how the teams might have prepared for that. During that last practice session, Kyle Larson overheated his engine and will have to start in the rear on Sunday. Another problem it seemed many were combating was the amount of tire wear and were trying to think of how they were going to correct that so they could make them last the stages, in particular the last one.

You see, things like that will be the deciding factors in which of them might end up in Victory Lane. It will be a whole new ball game when it comes to tire management and keeping track of the water temperature and other assorted items they may not have had to pay all that close attention to when on a track other than a dirt track. Oh sure, they have to keep track of all those things on a regular basis week in and week out but, this dirt track thing is going to tax them to the limit. Add to that the fact this is Bristol and you know what kind of a day it’s going to be for many of them. Emotions will be high. Bumpers will be used and there will likely be some anger issues surface at some time or other. Those that have better control of their tempers and emotions will likely come out ahead.

This fan thinks at the end of the day, the winner will be the one that managed his tires the best and the one that kept his cool when it counted. I also believe it may not have as much to do with speed as with lasting till the final lap. From this fan’s view, I believe this will be a very unique experience for all involved, a return to what many will remember as their roots growing up. Whether it’s fan’s or drivers and teams, I’m sure many have questions and theories of how things will go but, I think the real proof will be when the race is going on and when it is done. Whatever the case at the end of the day, I’ll be watching…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 27, 2021 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Author: Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.