The NASCAR Cup Series takes on the dirt oval at Bristol Motor Speedway for the second time on April 17, the first in the Gen 7 car. The drivers will have a new piece of equipment as they head out onto the racing surface with mud flaps attached to their stock cars.
RFK Racing provided the first look at the new accessory on April 13. Chris Buescher, the driver of the No. 17 RFK Racing Ford, tweeted out a photo showing the mud flap attached to his Fastenal-sponsored stock car. FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass noted that NASCAR will require teams to keep the mud flaps attached to the rear of the cars at all times during the trip to Bristol Motor Speedway.
The mud flaps will be one of the multiple changes for the second-ever Cup Series race on the dirt version of Bristol Motor Speedway. The race will also take place at night with a start time of 7 p.m. ET (FOX) as NASCAR strives to keep the racing surface from drying out and sending dirt into the air. The first Food City Dirt Race, which Joey Logano won, featured an overall lack of visibility due to the dust.
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Drivers Called for Another Significant Change
Bringing in mandatory mud flaps was one significant change, but there is another that multiple drivers asked for. Logano and Austin Dillon, in particular, said that they hoped to see NASCAR remove the windshields for future dirt races.
Stewart Friesen, a regular in the Camping World Truck Series, took part in a Next Gen test at Bristol Motor Speedway. He made some laps with a screen in front of him instead of a windshield, but there was not enough time for NASCAR to examine the data from a safety standpoint. The Cup Series drivers will head to Bristol with their windshields attached while holding out hope for a significant change in the future.
“I was kinda hoping for the windshields to come out so we can keep the track a little tackier, but unfortunately, I think we got to work on that too late,” Austin Dillon told Pockrass. “Moving forward, we need to figure out a way that we could put those bars in, protect the drivers’ hands.”
Dillon added that NASCAR is “too late in the game” to make the change, but he hopes that it will happen in the future. He noted that the teams could easily weld in some bars and make a cover for their hands.
The Weather Remains a Concern for Multiple Series
The debut of the Gen 7 stock car on dirt will make fans want to watch both the heat races and the main event, but there will be concerns about potential weather-related issues. The reason is that rainfall and flooding forced NASCAR to postpone the 2021 race.
According to AccuWeather, there is reasonable cause for concern on both Saturday, April 16, and Sunday, April 17. The forecast calls for rain on both days with an 82% chance of precipitation on Saturday and 25% on Sunday. Though Weather.com calls for only a 50% chance of rain during the busiest day.
The afternoon of Saturday, April 16, will feature four heat races for the Camping World Truck Series and four for the Cup Series. The Truck Series race will also take place at 8 p.m. ET. If the rain disrupts the schedule, NASCAR will have to set the starting lineup with its formula based on the previous race on the schedule.
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