Bristol Motor Speedway Crews Make Big Change Ahead of Dirt Race

Bubba Wallace

Getty Bubba Wallace will work with Columbia once again.

Track crews at Bristol Motor Speedway have made a big change ahead of the Food City Dirt Race Cup Series event on April 17 (7:00 p.m. ET, FOX). They have painted part of the outside wall white to help with visibility.

Multiple media members posted photos on Twitter on April 16 that showed off the new look. Part of the wall was black, but the top half featured a fresh coat of white paint. The track officials made the change after there were multiple drivers that mentioned they had difficulty seeing the wall due to the dust from other vehicles.

Ryan Blaney, Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch, and other Cup Series veterans spoke out after practice about the lack of visibility. Some expressed concern about safety after taking part in the inaugural Food City Dirt Race. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer, for comparison, took a different approach.

Custer tweeted out a GIF from “Bird Box” that showed Sandra Bullock trying to move around with a blindfold on. “Trying to navigate running the wall at Bristol Dirt with tons of dust,” he added as a very direct caption.

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Multiple Drivers Damaged Their Stock Cars

William Byron

GettyWilliam Byron broke a suspension piece during practice.

Drivers in both the Camping World Truck Series and Cup Series dealt with issues on the track during the practice sessions on April 15. Several slapped the wall and suffered a considerable amount of damage.

Hailie Deegan, the driver of the No. 1 Ford F-150, had to go to a backup truck after practice due to the amount of damage. She had to drop to the rear of the field for her heat race on April 16.

Denny Hamlin, William Byron, and Kyle Larson were among the Cup Series drivers that hit the wall during their practice sessions. They all suffered damage, but Hamlin’s crew was able to get him back on track for the second practice so he could turn in the fastest lap times. Though he had less damage than his peers.

Two of the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers required some parts from a backup car. Byron, in particular, broke a suspension piece when he hit the wall. Though neither had to fully go to a backup car and drop to the rear of the field.

“The closer you get to the wall in front of you, and depending on where they’re running — if they run up close to the wall — it just creates such a cloud of dust that it’s really hard to see the wall,” said Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola, transcription courtesy of Racer. “The wall is painted black. I think that makes it harder to see as well.”


Cup Series Drivers Avoided Other Pre-Race Issues

There were multiple drivers that dealt with issues due to hitting the wall during practice, but they were able to make repairs and prepare for the heat races on April 16. More importantly, they all avoided other pre-race issues that have been prominent early in 2022.

All of the Cup Series entries passed pre-race inspection on April 16, doing so on either the first or second time through. Alex Bowman and Martin Truex Jr. were the final two drivers in danger of receiving a penalty, but they both passed on the second time through and avoided losing any crew members.

The races in 2022 have featured numerous teams failing inspection at least two times each week and losing a crew chief. Multiple have failed three times and had to drop to the rear of the field and serve a pass-through penalty at the start of the race. This list includes Kurt Busch (Auto Club Speedway), Andy Lally (Circuit of the Americas), Justin Haley (Richmond Raceway), Greg Biffle (Richmond Raceway), and AJ Allmendinger (Martinsville Speedway).

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