The NASCAR Cup Series' novel dirt race in Bristol, Tennessee seemed to hail the resurgence of stock car racing in America. First held in 2021, it was one of the marquee races in a season that saw the series' TV viewership bounce back from a longtime low. But it won't remain a part of the calendar, as the Cup Series will reportedly not bring back Bristol's dirt race for its 2024 calendar.
This comes via Fox Sports NASCAR reporter Bob Pockrass, who stated on X (formerly Twitter) that both Bristol Motor Speedway races in 2024 will be on concrete. The change reverts the Cup Series to an all-paved calendar, like it had for a half century following the previous most recent dirt race in 1970. Despite its historic significance though, the revived dirt race didn't go down without a hitch.
In 2021, NASCAR had Bristol coated in a multilayered, clay-topped arrangement of sediment that took 2,300 truckloads to haul in. Months of work went into preparing the racing surface, only for the race itself to go poorly. Drivers complained that the dirt dried out, resulting in the cars kicking up so much dust that visibility was compromised. In 2022, heavy rain generated the opposite problem, with cars having to pit just to unclog their muddy radiators.
It's unclear whether the on-track product was the deciding factor in the dirt race's discontinuation. The involving process of preparing the track, then stripping it back to tarmac may have also made NASCAR and track management think twice about hosting a fourth race.
While it's sad that dirt seems to be headed back into NASCAR's history books, it's better that the Cup Series gave it another try instead of forgetting its roots. Smile because it happened, as they say.
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