Bristol dirt is back, baby. NASCAR’s top series runs the Food City Dirt Race this Sunday at 7 p.m. on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM.
Bristol Motor Speedway’s half-mile oval has been transformed into a temporary dirt track, where 36 competitors will participate in the spectacle in its second year. NASCAR introduced its Bristol dirt experiment last season for the first Cup Series race on a dirt track in more than 50 years. Driver Joey Logano took the checkered flag at Bristol dirt last year, narrowly beating Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
This weekend’s race will feature Cole Custer on the pole after qualifying heat races on Saturday, in which Custer earned the most points through passing and his heat finish. Custer has limited dirt experience compared to those starting up front with him. He’ll line up with Christopher Bell in the front row, followed by Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe, Kyle Larson and Justin Haley.
“It’s really racy,” Custer said of track conditions Saturday. “Obviously they have a little bit more moisture in it than yesterday. It think our cars liked it, but overall, it was a good day to start ninth and pass cars.”
Reddick and Denny Hamlin were the two fastest drivers in their respective practices on Friday night.
Race predictions, favorites
While some oddsmakers have favored Larson for the win this year given his extensive dirt racing roots, remember that Larson and Bell wrecked early in last year’s race. The two collected in the Turn 2 wall and their cars suffered heavy damage. It was a mixed bag of drivers with a dirt background and those with less experience finishing in the top 10, and this year will likely be the same given the unknowns of the new car.
Larson’s team and the Joe Gibbs Racing teams that were fast in practice, like those of Bell, Hamlin and Kyle Busch, haven’t necessarily had the strongest start with Next Gen. While Bell is a driver to watch, a personal prediction for the win? Tyler Reddick. He has a background in dirt late models and sprint cars, finished seventh last year on Bristol dirt (after starting 27th), looked fast in early races this season and during heat races Saturday. He’ll just have to make it to the end.
How to watch NASCAR Bristol Dirt Race
- Race: Food City Dirt Race
- Distance: 125 miles (250 laps) with stages ending on Laps 75, 150 and 250
- Where: Bristol Motor Speedway
- When: Sunday, April 17 at 7 p.m.
- TV: FOX at 6 p.m.
- Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
- Purse: $7,374,089
- 2021 Race Winner: Joey Logano
Cup race starting lineup
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
|30||Martin Truex Jr.|
This story was originally published April 16, 2022 7:26 PM.