The race weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway featured four races, countless caution flags, and jaw-dropping moments. The wreck featuring AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric turned heads on Friday, Sept. 17, while Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott arguing capped off the weekend. The result was that multiple NASCAR legends called for a focus on Bristol concrete races.
NBC Sports analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. made some of the early comments during the post-race coverage. He explained how the weekend of racing showed the importance of Bristol Motor Speedway and why fans consistently flock to the Tennessee track for high-profile races. He also specifically mentioned the Bristol dirt race and prompted further discussions online.
“This used to be our best-selling ticket. Now it’s come to the point where they think we need to put dirt on top of it to put on a great show,” Earnhardt said. “But we’re back to showing what this race track can do, and it’s amazing to me that as much has happened here tonight and in the history of this race track, we’ve never replicated it anywhere else.”
Kenny Wallace also joined in the discussion with a tweet about the Cup Series race. He said that the confrontation between Harvick and Elliott is “what made Bristol great.” He declared that the track does not need to have dirt and that NASCAR needs to “cancel that deal.” Elliott Sadler agreed with a tweet calling the dirt “nonsense.”
The Bristol Dirt Race Will Return for 2022
The dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway first debuted during the 2021 season. NASCAR revealed that the Truck Series and the Cup Series drivers would head out onto the short track and battle on a very different racing surface.
The weather played a major role in the races as rainfall flooded the campground and forced the sanctioning body to postpone the action. The two races ultimately took place on March 29 in a doubleheader format with Martin Truex Jr. winning the Truck Series race and Joey Logano taking the Cup Series race.
Some former drivers are expressing displeasure about the Bristol dirt race, but it will return for a second season. NASCAR released the schedule on Wednesday, Sept. 15, revealing that the first Bristol race will take place on dirt. However, there will be one change. The 2022 iteration will take place under the lights as an April 17 nighttime race.
The Cup Series has Raced On the Bristol Concrete 121 Times
The NASCAR Cup Series first headed to Bristol Motor Speedway in 1961 for a race that Jack Smith won. The drivers returned to the track once again in 1961 with Joe Weatherly taking the checkered flag and setting up a trend that would last until 2020.
The Cup Series has held two races a season on the Bristol concrete every single year from 1961 until 2020 with several big names locking up wins. Kyle Busch has eight wins at the track while Kurt Busch has six. Darrell Waltrip won 12 times at the short track, including seven straight from 1981-1984.
The situation changed with the 2021 season. The Cup Series drivers still headed to Bristol two separate times, but the first race featured the dirt and a wide variety of responses. The second race took place at night and played a major role as the final cutoff race of the Round of 16.