BRISTOL, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – NASCAR has not raced on a dirt track since September 30, 1970 but this weekend the Cup Series and Camping World Truck Series will return to their roots racing on dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The Cup Series hits the track Sunday for the Food City Dirt Race and the Truck Series races Saturday in the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt.
The Cup Series will be looking for its seventh different winner in seven races. Only four seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era (1972-Present) have started with seven different winners: 2014, 2003, 2000 and 1991.
Ryan Blaney’s win last Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway was the eighth year where the season opened with six different winners. The other years were 2014, 2003, 2001, 2000, 1991, 1986 and 1984.
The Modern Era record of different winners to start a NASCAR Cup Series season is 10 set back in 2000 and the record for the most different NASCAR Cup Series winners in a single season in its entirety is 19 set back in 2001.
To take NASCAR back to its dirt track days Bristol hauled in more than 20,000 cubic yards of dirt to create the temporary dirt track surface.
501 dirt Cup races have produced 76 different winners. NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty leads the series in dirt track wins with 46 victories; followed by Buck Baker with 42 and Herb Thomas with 41.
Kyle Larson is one of the drivers to watch because his experience on dirt but some of the other drivers to watch include Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
A couple of drivers with extensive dirt experience will be racing in the Cup Series this weekend including Stewart Friesen with Spire Motorsports and Chris Windom with Rick Ware Racing.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s driver Denny Hamlin has set sail on the competition in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings. The Chesterfield, Virginia native, is currently leading the series driver standings by 43 points over second place Larson after he posted his fifth top-five finish in the first six races of the year.
NASCAR will use heat races, qualifying heat races and points awarded for passing to determine the starting lineups for each event.
The Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt takes place Saturday night at 8 p.m. with television coverage on FS1 beginning at 7 p.m.
The NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race takes plus Sunday at 3:30 p.m. with television coverage on Fox beginning at 2 p.m.
The races can be heard on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Martin Truex Jr Victorious At Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Martin Truex Jr passed teammate Denny Hamlin on lap 485 and went on the win the rain-delayed NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The victory was Truex’s second of 2021 and 29th of his Cup Series Career.
“He (Hamlin) started getting tight, our car was getting better and better,” said Truex of the late race pass. “We were able to take advantage of it. Really happy. For whatever reason our car really turned on when the lights went down. Always good when a plan comes together and it works out the way you hoped it would.”
Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott finished second, his seventh top-10 finish in 13-races at Martinsville and fourth top-10 of 2021.
“Really, really hard-fought second actually for us,” said Elliott. “We were not great, but had some, I guess our strong suit was kind of early on in the run, then really faded hard, too hard there in the latter part of a run. But we never got one of those super long runs, which is probably a good thing for us because we were struggling on that end. But, yeah, proud we could fight back.”
Hamlin settled for third after leading the most laps in the race (267).
“Had a really good car on the short run all day,” said Hamlin. “Got great restarts. Was fast for 25, 30 laps. Then it seemed like guys would start catching us. Unfortunately it was just too many laps there at the end that we couldn’t hold those guys off.”
Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson finished fourth and fifth respectively, giving HMS three cars in the top 5.
The race featured 18-lead changes among 7-drivers and was slowed by 15-caution flags for 105-laps.
The next NASCAR Cup Series race is April 18, 2020 at Richmond Raceway.
Josh Berry Gets First Career Xfinity Series Win At Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Josh Berry passed Ty Gibbs for the lead on lap 223 and stayed out front for the final 27-laps to get his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win in the rain-delayed Cook Out 250 at Martinsville Speedway. The victory was the first career victory for Berry in 13 Xfinity Series starts.
“Man, I wanted to win so bad for these guys,” said Berry referring to his No. 8 JR Motorsports team. “They’re such a great group. I knew this would be a good opportunity to win. (Crew chief) Taylor (Moyer) called a perfect race. The car was good, and we just kept tweaking on it. The tires were pretty worn out there at the end. I was struggling a little bit with wheel-hop. This is just unbelievable.”
Berry’s JR Motorsports teammate Noah Gragson finished second and picked up a $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus, which eased the pain of being the runner-up.
“One hundred thousand dollars richer,” said Gragson. “Great 1-2 finish for our team at JR Motorsports. I really wanted to win there, but I was having to protect the bottom to keep the guys behind me from moving me out of the way. I couldn’t open up my arc the way I needed to and make speed.”
Daniel Hemric finished in third position followed by Gibbs, who faded to a fourth place finish. Gibbs’ teammate Brandon Jones finished fifth. Jones was the leader Friday night when storms red-flagged the event after completing 91-laps.
The race featured 13-lead changes among 9-drivers. The race was slowed by 12-caution flags for 75-laps.
The next race for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is April 24, 2021 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Mother Nature Wins At Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Mother Nature is throwing a wrench into this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series Schedules at Martinsville Virginia.
Friday’s Xfinity race is under a red flag following 92-laps of the scheduled 250-lap event after rain showers put an end to NASCAR’s attempt to get the event finished. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones is scored as the leader of the race.
NASCAR has rescheduled the remainder of the event for Sunday at Noon ET.
The Cup Series race was red flagged on lap 43 because of showers. JGR’s Denny Hamlin is scored as the leader. Hamlin has led 38-laps. Team Penske’s Joey Logano started on the pole position and led the other laps.
NASCAR will restart the event on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.
Per NASCAR rules, an event is considered official after half of the scheduled distance has been completed.
Both races will be broadcast live on FS1, the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.