NASCAR Cup Series gets down and dirty with Food City Dirt Race at Bristol


Zach Cantanzareti (Flickr)

Bristol Motor Speedway

James Mackey, Reporter

The NASCAR Cup Series got dirty last Sunday and the sport’s return to its roots was nothing short of spectacular.

After a rain delay, the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Speedway was moved to Monday.  As anticipated, it turned out to be jam-packed with action from the drop of the green flag, to the checkered in overtime.

Hard hits, big damage, and modified restarts to limit the amount of dirt kicked up were the themes of the day.

The 50 year wait for the Cup Series to return to dirt was well worth it.

Joey Logano took home the sword trophy, after starting tenth. Ricky Stenhouse came in second and Denny Hamlin third. Daniel Suarez finished fourth, his best of the season and Ryan Newman took fifth in his comeback campaign.

Stenhouse in the 47 and Suarez, with Trackhouse Racing Team, in the 99, showed great promise after a tough season.

They demonstrated that the sport is no longer about the biggest teams, with the most money.

After crashing out of the Daytona 500, Suarez struggled as the season progressed.

Stenhouse, on the other hand, took home his best finish on the season, capping his seventh consecutive top 20 finish with his best result — second.

Tyler Reddick, driving the RCR 8, was the day’s biggest mover while running the unpopular highline in the corners.

Reddick, would start twenty-seventh, climb through the pack to finish the day twenty places better.  On the lead lap, in seventh place.

Every race has a favorite and the Food City had Kyle Larson.

Larson took the season off last year, spending his time racing dirt tracks.

The experience definitely pinning him as the favorite.

Larson, in the Hendrick Motorsports 5, has one win at Las Vegas and two stage wins in Atlanta. After overheating issues caused him to have to swap engines, Larson was forced to forfeit his qualifying position, which after qualifying was cancelled due to inclement weather turned out to be the pole.

Starting at the back of the pack, Larson climbed inside the top 10, before being involved in a crash with Christopher Bell on lap 53 and another on lap 153.

He would finish 5 laps down.

The Cup Series plans to return to dirt at Bristol in 2022.

After an Easter break, drivers will start their engines for the first short-track race of the year at Martinsville on April 10.