Today, the NASCAR Cup Series returned to Bristol Motor Speedway for its second Food City Dirt Race. NASCAR introduced this unique event at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” in Bristol, Tennessee last year. While the inaugural event was certainly a spectacle, the drivers had plenty of complaints about the racing it produced. This year, Bristol increased the amount of banking on the dirt to make it possible to be fast on multiple grooves.
The track changes did increase side-by-side racing and made passing slightly easier. The durable composite body of the Next Gen car also made contact between drivers far less likely to end their day. And having the chance of getting to the front was vital as there was the looming threat of rain for the race’s entirety.
Stewart-Haas’ Cole Custer won the pole for the race after starting ninth and finishing second in his qualifying heat, earning the most points of any driver in the field. The field essentially broke in the dirt track during the race’s opening portion. NASCAR threw a competition caution and required all the drivers to have caked-up grille openings cleared and windshields cleaned.
Custer’s teammate Chase Briscoe made his way to the lead when the race got back underway. After sliding up into the wall, Briscoe would lose the lead, spin out and bring out a caution. It being a dirt race, it was only a matter of time until Hendrick’s Kyle Larson got out front. Once Larson took the lead, he dominated the rest of the first stage. When the stage concluded with caution, Larson had a two-second lead.
The race featured non-competitive pit stops between stages. Drivers left the pitlane in the same position where they entered, but the drivers who elected not to pit were moved to the front. Trackhouse’s drivers Daniel Suárez and Ross Chastain along with Chase Briscoe decided to stay out and restart upfront, with Suárez as the leader.
Suárez would spend most of the second stage fighting Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell, but Chase Briscoe would win the segment with a late-stage push. Larson spent most of the stage just behind the leaders, unable to maintain the unbeatable form he had in the first stage.
As the rain arrived near the end of stage two, the track was too wet to restart the race for the third stage, and NASCAR was forced to throw the red flag. After around a half-hour delay, the rain stopped, and the track was prepared for racing to resume. The rain never entirely dissipated as light showers continued through the final stage.
Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick led most of the segment, but Chase Briscoe had other ideas as he looked to win the race. Briscoe dove the entry of turn three on the final lap in an attempt to take the lead. Instead, he laid into the side of Reddick’s #8 Chevy Camaro in turn four.
Both drivers spun out. Kyle Busch, in third, was able to cross the line first to win the Food City Dirt Race. I genuinely hoped that Reddick punched Briscoe in the face for the move. However, Briscoe apologized for the contact. Reddick accepted the apology, understanding that he would have done the same in that position.
Race Results – Top 10
- Kyle Busch
- Tyler Reddick
- Joey Logano
- Kyle Larson
- Ryan Blaney
- Alex Bowman
- Christopher Bell
- Chase Elliott
- Michael McDowell
- Ty Dillon
The NASCAR Cup Series returns next week at Talladega Superspeedway.