Column: The Difference In Bristol Motor Speedway’s Dirt Track From ’21 To ’22 Is Like Night & Day

Column By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – BRISTOL, TN – To hear Ryan Blaney tell it, there’s not a lot of continuity between the Food City Dirt Race from 2021 and the one scheduled this year on Easter Sunday (7 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

In the first place, this year’s event will take place at night, rather than during daylight hours. And Sunday’s race also will feature NASCAR’s Next Gen Cup Series race car, which has features that weren’t part of the Gen 6 version that raced in 2021—including a five-speed sequential transmission, rack-and-pinion steering and an independent rear suspension.

Accordingly, the notebooks drivers and crew chiefs built last year won’t have a great degree of relevance when it comes to racing on Sunday night.

“The car is obviously different,” Blaney said on Friday during a question-and-answer session in the Bristol Motor Speedway media center. “The tire is way different. The tire is way better this year, honestly. It’s got way more grip, and you can actually drive it more, so I don’t know if you can compare much like car-to-car, setup-to-setup.

“But just knowing the trends of how the race went last year, maybe that applies to this year, so you try to look at the trends of the race track and all that. But the track is a lot smoother than what it was last year, so that’s nice. There’s not a lot you can compare.”

Blaney spun during the first qualifying heat on Saturday, finished sixth and will start 25th in Sunday’s race.


Short Strokes

NASCAR announced Saturday that Pinty’s Delicious Foods has extended its entitlement sponsorship of Canada’s largest national motorsports series for five years, through 2026. Pinty’s first took over the naming rights of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series in 2016, after entering the sport as a contingency sponsor in 2012…

Speedway Motorsports, Inc., president and chief operating officer Marcus Smith announced the revival of North Wilkesboro Speedway, which will host a series of events in August on the old .625-mile asphalt, followed by dirt-track racing in October after the asphalt has been removed. The plan is to repave the short track in 2023, with an eye toward hosting a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race there—perhaps in 2024. NASCAR last raced at North Wilkesboro in 1996.

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