Friday, March 26, 2021

NASCAR Betting Preview: 2021 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol


The first six NASCAR Cup races have produced six different winners so what are the odds of seven straight when the series rolls into Bristol Motor Speedway Sunday for the Food City Dirt Race, the first dirt Cup race in over 50 years. Let's ask an oddsmaker for a price.

“Yeah, I would say Yes, someone else wins again, would be close to -300 to happen again just because there are so many great drivers that haven’t won yet this season,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook VP of risk management Ed Salmons.

“Even though the No (+260) would include the two favorites with Kyle Larson (2/1) and Christopher Bell (7/1). Yes just has more chances to happen with 33 drivers than No with six.”


  • Date: Sunday, March 28, 2021
  • TV-Time: FOX, 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Bristol Motor Speedway (Dirt Track)
  • Location: Bristol, Tennessee

Bristol’s half-mile high-banked layout with dirt laid all over it has the fans excited to see it with the limited seating (30,000) being sold out quickly.

I don’t know if that renewed enthusiasm for a Bristol ticket has more to do with dirt racing, the idea being so unique, or fans simply being exhausted with the pandemic and needing to break out and let off some steam.

One thing is for sure, creating fair odds on something that has never happened in the modern sportsbook era with no past history on the Bristol dirt layout using the 750 horsepower engine with Goodyear tires grooved for dirt.

How do you even begin to make odds?


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Austin Dillon is 16/1 to win 2021 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol


MARCH 23, 2021


“I think just dirt racing, in general, I’ve got a little bit of a background in it. From Eldora, winning the first Truck race there, I’d say that’s what he’s talking about. Kyle (Larson), he’s good at anything he gets in and I’m just glad that he mentioned me; that’s pretty awesome, really. It makes my day, so now I have to step-up and perform. Last weekend, I was able to win that crate race there in a late model and I think that was good experience, just to see the track. We were pretty dominate in all three of the races that we were in. I think from the knowledge side of things, I can probably do a pretty good job of getting what we need, when it comes to down to race time. 250-laps around a dirt track, you don’t really get that many laps on a track in a race on dirt. So, it’ll be a learning curve and I think we’ll be as prepared as anyone for it; that’s the one advantage, I think.”

“From sprint cars to late models, I definitely think there’s some experience there that helps. Kyle (Larson), he’s driving late models now and doing really well. He about won the big race this past weekend in the super. The weight in those late models, they drive so much different than our Cup cars or a truck. A truck, from what I know in the past, the history that I have in my mind is that they are heavier. You don’t really drive them, I would say, like a late model or a sprint car. Definitely the weight is the biggest thing in the difference in how you drive.”

“Side force, too, I’ll throw that in there. Our cars don’t have the bodies that the late models and sprint cars have wings; they’re just built a lot different to rely on downforce.”

“Yeah, the competition in the Cup Series is just, all-in-all, a higher level. I think it’s the highest form of motorsports; the best drivers in the world. All of them are doing their job, preparation-wise, off the track; running other cars that they aren’t comfortable running in, just to get on dirt and understand what the transition of the track is. There’s a lot of smart dirt crew chiefs out there, also, that people are probably bringing in trying to understand how they can make their cars drive better on dirt.”
“The biggest difference from 2014 – I just stepped in another truck and the difference between the truck we took the first time to the second time, there was a difference and we weren’t ever really able to find that feel that we had the first race around. So, going this time, I think there’s some guys obviously with less dirt experience that are going to be surprised; it’s just an experience thing. But there’s so many good race car drivers at the Cup level that have dirt experience, or some sort of dirt experience, that they’ll be able to lean on. Not many of the guys at this point at the Cup level, maybe a couple, that have not ever been on dirt. I think everybody has some sort of dirt racing experience at this point.”

“I think there’s definitely going to be a point where there’s going to be a dominate line everybody is going to be fighting for. The one thing, though, that I noticed at the dirt track last weekend was that you can kind of move around, momentum-wise, to find speed, which is nice. That’s what’s great about dirt racing. As the track goes through transitions, it’s always going to change. There might be a point in the race where, ultimately, you have to be on the bottom and you’ll be fighting for it. But the great thing about dirt racing is that the track is always changing. So, it’ll go through so many transitions throughout the race and that’s what’s cool about dirt racing. You have to be comfortable with change because it changes throughout the race and to be good at it, you have to search constantly. Even when you’re the leader, the leader is always kind of a moving target. They have to be comfortable; they can’t just get in a line and think that line is going to win them the race. We’re going 250 laps on a dirt track. After 25, the dirt track changes drastically with a lot of cars out on it. So, that’s the great thing about it. It’ll go through so many transitions and the team that is willing to change and move will be the best by the end of it.”

“It will be nice to have some practice to just test and tune. I think the difference between an asphalt track and a dirt track is we have so many notes on things that we don’t do. A dirt track is where you can go to it with an open mindset and do things that you wouldn’t normally do to find speed and that’s what’s going to be fun for all of the crew chiefs, car chiefs and mechanics out there to really do things opposite. The thought process has to be so open-minded when we get there to the track. Not only are you worrying about the setup, but you’re worried about the car. Make sure the heights are right, you’re not rolling the nose under – there’s a lot of things that we do at a dirt track to just make the car go around the track. And then it might not always be like ‘hey, we needed just a little more wedge to be perfect’. It might be ‘we need more clearance so I don’t hit the track right here and get tight’. There’s a lot of fun stuff about the practice.”

“The heat races – they’ll be challenging. It’s a short amount of time and you’ll want to get as many passing points as you can. Your starting position matters at any type of racing level. The draw – I haven’t really looked into how that’s going to go down or where we start in the heat races yet. But I think the whole process is going to be fun. I was hoping we would go off of a regular race weekend and go off of the past race, because we would have a pretty good starting position after our run at Atlanta this past weekend, and I think starting up front would be really good for us. I’m not really worried about where we start in the dirt race because I feel like if you do your job and practice that you should be able to move forward through the race.”

“I watched the stock car race and I felt like the stock car race was probably one of the best races this past week when I was there at the Dirt Car Nationals, and that’s what I’m hoping you guys get to see from the Cup level. All the guys that are preparing the track – I’ve been in touch with some of those people, trying to just give feedback to give it the best show we can put on for all the fans out there. I think they’re prepared; I think the knowledge they gained form the Dirt Car Nationals last week will really go a long way when it comes down to it of what you see this coming week.”

Ty Dillon is 80/1 to win 2021 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol



Bristol Dirt Advance

No. 96 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry


Event Overview


● Event: Food City Dirt Race (Round 7 of 36)

● Time/Date: 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, March 28

● Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway

● Layout: .533-mile, high-banked, dirt oval

● Laps/Miles: 250 laps / 125 miles

● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 75 laps / Stage 2: 75 laps / Final Stage: 100 laps

● TV/Radio: FOX / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio


Notes of Interest


● Driver Ty Dillon and the No. 96 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR) return to action this weekend when the NASCAR Cup Series races on dirt for the first time in more than 50 years during the Food City Dirt Race on the high-banked, half-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway oval.


● The 28-year-old from Lewisville, North Carolina last sat behind the wheel of the No. 96 Toyota at the second points-paying event of the Cup Series season Feb. 21 on the road course at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, when he drove to a 19th-place finish. In the previous weekend’s Duel qualifying races for the Daytona 500, Dillon finished a solid sixth in the No. 96 Toyota but was nipped at the finish line by .04 of a second in his bid to qualify for The Great American Race for the non-chartered team. It marked the highest Duel finish ever by a team that did not qualify for the Daytona 500.


● Sunday’s race at Bristol will be Dillon’s sixth NASCAR start on dirt, and the 164th Cup Series start of his career. The previous five dirt outings came when he competed with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on the half-mile Eldora Speedway dirt oval in Rossburg, Ohio. His best Eldora finish was fifth in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing entry in the July 2014 race, and his best start was fifth in the No. 99 MDM Motorsports entry in the July 17 race, when he finished 12th. Dillon added a 10th-place finish in the July 2015 Eldora Truck Series race in the No. 33 GMS Racing entry.


● Racing a stock car on dirt will be nothing new for Dillon this weekend as he competed on the surface twice during his 2011 ARCA Menards Series championship season. He started on the pole, led 17 laps and finished second to Chris Buescher in the September race on the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds mile oval, and he qualified on the pole and led 19 laps in the August race on the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile oval in Springfield. Dillon also has competed in more than 500 dirt races driving dirt late models, crate late models, UMP dirt modifieds and super dirt late models throughout the Southeast since his earliest racing days.


● The No. 96 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry will be making GBR’s 75th start since joining the Cup Series as a part-time team in 2017. Team owner Marty Gaunt’s almost two-decades-long relationship with Toyota dates back to his ownership of the Toyota-powered Clean Line Racing team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, which became Red Horse Racing, as well as his executive role in the formation of the Red Bull’s nascent Toyota-powered Cup Series team. Gaunt’s Toyota ties strengthened after the 2008 season when he purchased Triad Racing Development, which leased Toyota engines across NASCAR’s Cup, Xfinity and Truck series and continues to be NASCAR’s exclusive distributor of Toyota parts as Triad Racing. Gaunt founded GBR in 2010, with his eponymous team starting out in the Canada-based NASCAR Pinty’s Series and the U.S.-based NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Its first driver, Jason Bowles, scored GBR’s maiden victory in the 2011 Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway in California, with the precursor to that win being the pole position in track-record time at the 2011 Streets of Toronto 100. After seven years competing in NASCAR’s development divisions, Gaunt stepped up to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2017. His team contested the full Cup Series schedule with Daniel Su├írez in 2020, but scaled back its focus in 2021 to the superspeedway and road-course races with an eye toward the introduction of NASCAR’s Next Gen Cup Series car in 2022.


● The five Truck Series appearances by Dillon on the dirt at Eldora came during a successful seven-year run there by the series that began in 2013. The inaugural race there in July 2013 marked the first time in more than four decades a top NASCAR series had competed on dirt – the last being Sept. 30, 1970 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, where Richard Petty took the 117th of his record 200 career NASCAR Cup Series wins. Like the annual Eldora Truck Series races, it was on a Wednesday night and contested on a half-mile oval. There was never a repeat winner in the Truck Series race at Eldora, and six of its seven winners are entered in the Food City Dirt Race – Austin Dillon (2013), Bubba Wallace (2014), Christopher Bell (2015), Kyle Larson (2016), Chase Briscoe (2018) and Stewart Friesen (2019). The lone Eldora winner not entered at Bristol is 2017 victor Matt Crafton.


● Bass Pro Shops is a longtime supporter of Dillon. North America’s premier outdoor and conservation company was with Dillon for his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win in July 2014 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and his three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories – August 2012 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, June 2013 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, and November 2013 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.



Ty Dillon, Driver of the No. 96 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing


When you first heard the Cup cars were going to race on dirt on the Bristol oval, what was your first reaction, and did it take long to come to terms with the concept?

“I was definitely excited. I was interested to see how they were going to adapt the track and turn it into dirt again. I know they’d done it in the past but I didn’t know what they would do this go-around, it had been so long. I was definitely excited and I wanted to instantly figure out how I could be a part of the race.”


Would you say it’s this year’s new wild-card race in that some of the typical heavy hitters may not be a favorite to do well, and just about anybody can win it?

“Absolutely. I think it falls in line as far as being a wild-card race with the series going to a new road course, or the superspeedway races at Daytona or Talladega.”


How does a race like this bode for a part-time, single-car team like GBR, and what are your expectations?

“I think it’s a huge opportunity for us. I think we can win if we do what we know we’re capable of and things go our way. We’re definitely going to go there to win, and I guess going off the wild-card nature of the race, it is such a wild card that I think anybody, even a single-car team, can have great success.”


Kevin Harvick told us you and your brother are among the drivers to watch as you have more dirt racing experience than most people might be aware of. You’ve both raced in the Truck Series at Eldora. What other dirt racing experience do you have in your arsenal, and how is that going to help you this weekend?

“That’s cool to hear that. We do have a lot of dirt experience. We were both successful at Eldora in the Truck Series on the dirt. Austin got a win and I ran really well each time without getting the finish. I’ve run dirt late models, crate late models, UMP dirt modifieds and super dirt late models, and I’ve run ARCA on dirt on top of Eldora in the Trucks. In all, I’d say about 500 to 700 races on dirt in my career.”


What all have you done to prepare for this race, and what will be your approach as you practice and heat race, and ultimately compete on Sunday?

“I watched the Dirt Nationals on TV, just watching what the track did over the course of the event, and have tried to get the most out of simulator time just trying to mimick it. And, of course, I’m relying a lot on my past experience and I think that will go a long way. I can’t wait to get out there.”


Dave Winston, Crew Chief of the No. 96 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing


Could you describe the task of changing things on the racecar to be able to race on the dirt?

“Looking at our Bass Pro Shops Toyota, the biggest things we’ve had to do would be building guards, making the car a little more durable, to take the impact of racing on a dirt track, not knowing fully what to expect with the dirt track. Nobody in our organization has years and years of dirt-racing experience who can say, ‘Here’s what we have to do.’ We’ve talked to a lot of people. Every one of us has friends we have consulted with, getting people’s opinions and recommendations on what types of guards we need to put in place to block the master cylinder and brake lines, our water reservoirs and the like to keep things from getting knocked off. NASCAR has allowed us to modify the car to help deal with impacts with the wall. We feel the kind of car the Bristol dirt track calls for is somewhere between a short-track car and an intermediate car. We’re bringing an intermediate car. We’ll adjust the camber curves and we feel decent about not being overcambered with the front tires. Ride heights are a tricky part of it, and we’re going to be pretty conservative with that – we’re going to err on the high side. For overall speed, we’re not going to focus on aero. The rules took away so much front aero, and with the radiator pan underneath the car, that takes away a lot of front downforce. And they added rear spoiler, so the aero balance is shifted to the rear. Don’t know how much all of that is going to apply, but it’ll be good to have two practices. That’ll be somewhat new to us, too. So not knowing what to expect going in, we’ll have the chance to make changes to the car in practice. We’ll also have to be efficient with damage repair and maximize track time during practice.”

Chris Buescher is 80/1 to win 2021 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol

Team: No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang

Crew Chief: Luke Lambert
Twitter: @17RoushTeam, @RoushFenway and @Chris_Buescher

Qualifying Heat Races – Saturday, March 27 at 6 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN, SiriusXM Channel 90
Food City Dirt Race – Sunday, March 28 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM Channel 90


Buescher at Bristol Motor Speedway
Buescher makes his 12th Cup start at Bristol on Sunday, where he has two top-10 finishes, most recently an eighth-place run last fall.
Buescher’s best finish at ‘The World’s Fastest Half Mile’ came in 2016 when he ran fifth.
In five Xfinity starts at Bristol, Buescher has three top-10 runs, including a career-best third in 2015.

Buescher on Dirt Elsewhere
While not as experienced on dirt as his teammate, Buescher is fresh off his first experience on the Bristol dirt track with last week’s Bristol Dirt Nationals.
Buescher competed in the 604 Late Model Class last week, and prior to that also turned laps on separate dirt tracks, all in an attempt to prep for Sunday’s Cup race.
He also ran select dirt events in the ARCA Series during the early days of his career, notably winning one dirt race at DuQuoin Fairgrounds in Illinois in 2011.

Bristol Dirt Formats
The NCS will run practice sessions and qualifying heats that will determine the starting lineups for the main event. The lineup for each of the four qualifying heats per series will be determined by random draw.
Passing points – a common theme across weekly dirt track racing – will also play a role this weekend. Passing points are the amount of points collected based on how many cars drivers are able to pass during a qualifying heat. Those points will help determine the starting lineup for the main event.
As for the qualifying heat races, the Cup Series will run four 15-lap heats with 9-10 cars in each race.

Luke Lambert at Bristol Motor Speedway

Lambert will be on the box for his 18th Cup race at Bristol. In 17 prior starts, he has five top-10s with a career-best fifth in the 2015 spring race. His average finish is 15.1.
Dating back seven events at ‘The World’s Fastest Half Mile,’ Lambert has three top-10s and five finishes inside the top-12.
Lambert is a former winner at Bristol in the NXS, bringing home one of his four career Xfinity wins back in the 2012 spring race. He and Elliott Sadler started fourth in the No. 2 machine and led the final 36 laps for the victory.


Buescher on racing at Bristol Dirt:

“I think a lot of it is going to be survival, trying to do decent in the heat races to get a good starting position. I don’t completely understand the system, but I haven’t done much dirt racing in my past at all, so, like I said, we’ll work on practice, we’ll get it driving decent, we’ll go into the heat and try to get some points without tearing our race car up and that way we’ll find ourselves ready for a really long dirt race.”

Last Time Out

Buescher secured his first top-10 of the season last weekend at Atlanta with a seventh-place run, and scored stage finishes of ninth and eighth along the way.

Where They Rank

Following his top-10, Buescher is 16th in driver points through six events.

On the Car

Fastenal returns to the fold at Roush Fenway for its 11th season in 2021. They spent three years on the No. 99 before jumping to the No. 17 Cup Series entry, and were the primary partner on the No. 60 Xfinity team that captured the owner’s championship in 2011.

Fastenal will feature top suppliers Ansell, Duracell/Procell, Master Lock, Go-Jo and Krylon on Buescher’s Mustang as he competes this weekend. For more information on these suppliers, visit, and stay up-do-date on social @FastenalRacing, @Fastenal.

About Fastenal
Fastenal [Nasdaq: FAST] is North America’s largest fastener distributor and a ‘one-stop’ source for hundreds of thousands of OEM, MRO and Construction products. With more than 2,600 stores worldwide, the company supports B2B customers with tailored local inventory and dedicated personnel, who visit regularly, quickly respond to emergency needs, and provide efficient inventory management solutions. Fastenal’s service-oriented business network includes the world’s largest industrial vending program, 14 regional distribution centers, 8 custom manufacturing facilities, thousands of delivery vehicles, and industry-leading sourcing, quality and engineering resources.

Ryan Newman dirt skills have him at 40/1 odds to win at Bristol

Team: No. 6 Oscar Mayer Cold Cuts Ford Mustang

Crew Chief: Scott Graves
Twitter: @Roush6Team, @RoushFenway and @RyanJNewman

Qualifying Heat Races – Saturday, March 27 at 6 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN, SiriusXM Channel 90
Food City Dirt Race – Sunday, March 28 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM Channel 90


Newman at Bristol Motor Speedway

Newman makes his 39th Cup start at Bristol on Sunday but, like the rest of the field, will tackle the dirt for the first time in a Cup car. In 38 prior events at Bristol, Newman has an average finish of 15.6 with 19 top-10s.

Newman’s best finish at ‘The World’s Fastest Half Mile’ came in the fall of 2004 when he finished second after starting fourth. He also finished fifth in the 2015 spring event.

Dating back seven events at Bristol, Newman has an average finish of 12.5 with three top-10s. Most recently, he finished 15th and 25th in last season’s two events.

Newman has an additional nine combined starts in the Xfinity and Truck Series, winning in NXS action back in 2005. He earned the Xfinity pole in 2006 and finished 10th or better in five NXS starts. He recorded a fourth-place result in the No. 2 truck in 2009.

Newman on Dirt, in Truck Series
With Sunday’s race on the Bristol Dirt the first time the series will race on dirt in more than 50 years, the playing field is somewhat leveled in a way that NASCAR has never seen. However, Newman will be one of multiple Cup drivers to attempt the Truck Series race Saturday night in an effort to gain valuable experience entering Sunday.

Newman grew up on the dirt circuit back in his USAC racing days, and has participated in the Chili Bowl the last two seasons. He also ran in two of the NCWTS events at Eldora Speedway in the last decade, including a strong showing in 2013 when he finished third. Most recently he ran the No. 3 entry in 2018 and finished 30th.

Saturday, he’ll pilot the No. 39 entry and attempt to race his way into the field for Saturday night’s Truck event. The No. 39 is a bit of a throwback to Newman’s earlier days in the Cup Series, when he ran that number in five seasons for Stewart-Haas Racing, winning a combined four races in that span. One of 44 trucks on the initial entry list, he will don the Coca-Cola colors, among others, across his Ford F-150.

Bristol Dirt Formats

Both the NCWTS and NCS will run practice sessions and qualifying heats that will determine the starting lineups for each main event. The lineup for each of the four qualifying heats per series will be determined by random draw.

Passing points – a common theme across weekly dirt track racing – will also play a role this weekend. Passing points are the amount of points collected based on how many cars drivers are able to pass during a qualifying heat. Those points will help determine the starting lineup for the main event.
As for the qualifying heat races, the Cup Series will run four 15-lap heats with 9-10 cars in each race. The Truck Series is scheduled to run four qualifying heats with 11 trucks in each.

Scott Graves at Bristol Motor Speedway
Graves will call his 11th Cup event at Bristol this weekend, where he has an average finish of 15.6. Dating back four races, he and Newman have finished outside the top-15 just once.
Graves also called seven Xfinity events at Bristol dating back to 2012, recording one top five with Chris Buescher (2015).


Newman on racing at Bristol Dirt:

“There’s obviously been a lot that’s gone into making this weekend happen on the Dirt, something that is unique for us in the Cup cars but a race that I look forward to. Going back to my younger days, racing on dirt is something I’ve always enjoyed and this weekend will no doubt be historical in many aspects. I’m thankful to have an opportunity to run the Truck race Saturday night, and want to thank both Coca-Cola and Aggressive Hydraulics for coming on board. Sunday will be a lot about patience for a lot of guys in our field that have never run on dirt, but we’re looking forward to the challenge and can’t wait to get dirty in our Oscar Mayer Ford this weekend.”

Last Time Out

Newman found himself inside the top-five at one point late in the action of Sunday’s race at Atlanta, before going on to finish 13th in the Kohler Generators Ford.

Where They Rank

Through six races, Newman is 21st in driver points.

On the Car

Oscar Mayer takes its colorful scheme to the Bristol Dirt this weekend, highlighting Cold Cuts on the side of Newman’s machine. It marks Oscar Mayer’s first time on the car at Bristol, and the last time they were the primary, Newman finished seventh at Homestead.

About the Kraft Heinz Company

For 150 years, we have produced some of the world’s most beloved products at The Kraft Heinz Company (Nasdaq: KHC). We are one of the largest global food and beverage companies, with 2019 net sales of approximately $25 billion. Our portfolio is a diverse mix of iconic and emerging brands. As the guardians of these brands and the creators of innovative new products, we are dedicated to the sustainable health of our people and our planet. To learn more, visit or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Ford has long history in NASCAR dirt races


Ford has 100 all-time dirt wins by 29 different drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series from 1955-1969. NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett, who is Ford’s all-time leader in Cup wins with 43, also holds the record for most dirt wins for the manufacturer with 26. Fellow Hall of Famers Junior Johnson and Fireball Roberts are next on the list with 11 and 10 wins, respectively.


Ned Jarrett (26), Junior Johnson (11), Fireball Roberts (10), Dick Hutcherson (8), Curtis Turner (4), Marvin Panch (4), Ralph Moody (4), David Pearson (3), Paul Goldsmith (3), Eddie Gray (3), Joe Weatherly (3), Parnelli Jones (2), Eddie Pagan (2), Speedy Thompson (2), Tom Pistone (1), Buck Baker (1), Lloyd Dane (1), Bill Amick (1), Marvin Porter (1), Shorty Rollins (1), Johnny Beauchamp (1), Cotton Owens (1), John Rostek (1), Fred Lorenzen (1), Jimmy Pardue (1), Tiny Lund (1), Cale Yarborough (1), Darel Dieringer (1), Elmo Langley (1).


Ford’s first win on dirt in what is now known as the NASCAR Cup Series came on Oct. 9, 1955 when Speedy Thompson won a 250-lap feature on the 1.5-mile Memphis-Arkansas Speedway in LeHi, Arkansas. Thompson, driving a 1955 Ford, started 10th before he eventually passed leader Tim Flock on lap 43 and never gave it up. He led the final 158 circuits as he and Marvin Panch were the only two drivers to end up on the lead lap, giving Ford a one-two finish and its first victory in the Grand National Series since Shirtless Jimmy Florian won the manufacturer’s first race in 1950.


NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson registered three Ford wins on dirt, including the manufacturer’s last one on June 26, 1969. The race, which was held on a half-mile dirt track in Raleigh at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, saw Pearson dominate. He led 182-of-200 laps and beat Richard Petty, who finished second in a Ford, by three laps. That marked Pearson’s final year driving the full schedule, which ended with him winning a second straight championship.


Three Ford NASCAR Cup Series drivers are hoping to qualify for Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol. Kevin Harvick, Chase Briscoe and Ryan Newman are all scheduled to compete in an effort to gain experience for Sunday’s feature. Harvick’s last start in the truck series came in 2015 when he finished second at Pocono while Newman will be trying to make his eighth career series start. His last truck effort came in 2018 at Eldora, where he finished 30th, while Briscoe’s came in 2019 when he finished seventh at Eldora.


Speaking of Briscoe, the Ford development driver knows what it’s like to go to victory lane in one of NASCAR’s top three touring series on dirt. Briscoe won the Eldora Dirt Derby in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2018, edging Grant Enfinger at the finish line following a side-by-side battle the final lap. In all, Briscoe made three NCWTS starts at Eldora and finished in the top 10 each time – 3rd in 2017, 1st in 2018 and 7th in 2019.


Four other Ford drivers have competed on dirt in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora – Ryan Newman, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Cole Custer. Here is how each of them fared by year:

2013 – Ryan Newman (P3), Ryan Blaney (P15)
2014 – Ryan Blaney (P3)
2015 – Brad Keselowski (P28), Cole Custer (P29)
2016 – Cole Custer (P6)
2017 – Chase Briscoe (P3)
2018 – Chase Briscoe (P1), Ryan Newman (P30)
2019 – Chase Briscoe (P7)


Four current Ford drivers competed in the Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway from 2005-2012. Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano all competed multiple times in the exhibition event with their yearly results included below:

2005 – Kevin Harvick (P12)
2006 – Aric Almirola (P10), Ryan Newman (P14)
2007 – Aric Almirola (P11), Kevin Harvick (P14), Ryan Newman (P18)
2008 – Kevin Harvick (P7), Ryan Newman (P12), Aric Almirola (P19)
2009 – Ryan Newman (P4), Aric Almirola (P8), Kevin Harvick (P11), Joey Logano (P20)
2010 – Joey Logano (P13), Aric Almirola (P14), Ryan Newman (P16)
2011 – Aric Almirola (P3), Ryan Newman (P9)
2012 – Ryan Newman (P5), Aric Almirola (P6)

Matt DiBenedetto is 60/1 to win 2021 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol

DiBenedetto Banking on Dirt Background

As he heads into this weekend’s Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Cup circuit’s first appearance on clay since 1970, Matt DiBenedetto is confident he’ll have a strong run in his No. 21 Menards/Quaker State Mustang.

He’s basing that on his experience racing on dirt early in his career, when he was racing Outlaw Karts on northern California dirt tracks like Cycleland Speedway in Chino and the track in Red Bluff, Calif.

DiBenedetto is one of several drivers, including his fellow Cup competitors Kyle Larson and Tyler Reddick, who learned their craft on those tracks in their native California.

Although DiBenedetto hasn’t done as much dirt racing since he joined the Cup Series as some of his peers, he believes he’ll adapt quickly once he hits the track at Bristol, which was covered in clay for this weekend’s NASCAR races as well as a host of support events.

“Any time I’ve hopped in a dirt car or a sprint car, it’s been like riding a bike,” he said. “It’s all come back to me pretty quickly.”

DiBenedetto said he didn’t pursue a ride in one of the Late Model races run at Bristol last week, as some Cup drivers did to prepare for this weekend. But he did follow the action, paying particular attention to how the racing surface was prepared.

“Watching it was valuable,” he said. “I feel pretty comfortable, especially since we have practice and heat races before Sunday.”

He said that one of keys to success will be keeping up with the changing conditions of the racing surface as the races progress. Dirt tracks usually lose moisture during an event, and some grooves will take on rubber.

“The track can change so much,” DiBenedetto said. “You have to continuously adjust your driving and keep up with what other drivers are doing.

“We’ll have to figure it out on the fly.”

This weekend’s race will be the first on dirt for many Cup teams but the 33rd dirt race for the Wood Brothers.

They have one dirt win, at Richmond Raceway in 1960 with Speedy Thompson driving. In their last race on dirt, on May 30, 1964, at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina, Marvin Panch qualified the No. 21 Ford on the pole and led the first 55 laps before an encounter with the wall led to an 11th-place finish.

Leonard Wood, who was turning wrenches on the No. 21 at that time, said he had looked over some competitors’ cars that season and determined that the fastest ones had more arch in their rear leaf springs.

So he hammered some more arch into the springs on Panch’s car, polished them up, and reinstalled them.

In dirt races leading up to the pole-winning run at Greenville-Pickens, Panch went on quite a run, posting four second-place finishes and a third.

“We didn’t run as much dirt as Richard Petty and Ned Jarrett and some of those guys,” Wood said. “But we had some success with it. [Brother] Glenn ran really good on dirt.”

Glenn Wood was a regular competitor on the NASCAR Convertible circuit, which ran on more dirt tracks than asphalt ones.

He had five career wins in that series, two of them on dirt tracks – at Richmond in April of 1957 and at the Charlotte Fairgrounds track that fall, with Curtis Turner driving in relief for him.

Of Wood’s nine poles, four came on dirt tracks, including the pole for the final race of the Convertible Series, at the Charlotte Fairgrounds on Aug. 23, 1957.

Leonard Wood said that while racing has changed tremendously since the Cup Series last raced on dirt, some things about dirt racing are the same.

“You just have to have the talent to do it,” he said. “Some drivers can hang on without spinning out, and some just aren’t cut out for it.”

There will be two practice sessions at Bristol on Friday, at 4:05 and 6:35 p.m. Eastern Time, with TV coverage on FOX Sports 1. There will be four qualifying races, beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on FOX Sports 1.

The 250-lap main event is set to start just after 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, with TV coverage on FOX. Stage breaks will be at 75 and 150 laps.


A family-owned and run company started in 1958, Menards is recognized as the retail home center leader of the Midwest with 236 stores in 15 states. Menards is truly a one-stop shop for all of your home improvement needs featuring a full-service lumberyard and everything you need to plan a renovation or build a home, garage, cabin, shed, deck, fence or post frame building. Menards is known for friendly Customer Service and as the place to “Save Big Money” with low prices every day, and sales too! For more information, please visit to learn about our store locations, offerings and services.

Wood Brothers Racing

Wood Brothers Racing was formed in 1950 in Stuart, Va., by Hall of Famer Glen Wood. Wood Brothers Racing is the oldest active team and one of the winningest teams in NASCAR history. Since its founding, the team won 99 races (including at least one race in every decade for the last seven decades) and 120 poles in NASCAR’s top-tier series. Fielding only Ford products for its entire history, the Wood Brothers own the longest association of any motorsports team with a single manufacturer. Glen’s brother, Leonard, is known for inventing the modern pit stop. The team currently runs the Ford Mustang driven by Matt DiBenedetto in the famous No. 21 racer.

McDowell (80/1), Alfredo (2.000/1) Front Row Motorsports Bristol Dirt Race Preview

A Look Ahead to the NASCAR Weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway

It’s time to get dirty with the NASCAR Camping World Truck and Cup Series. NASCAR will race at the Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway this weekend, on dirt. It is one of the most anticipated races of the season.

Todd Gilliland and his No. 38 Speedco Ford F-F150 team will practice on Friday and race under the lights on Saturday night. Gilliland will go through heat races on Saturday to determine his starting position.

Michael McDowell will pilot the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang this weekend. He will also practice on Friday, run a heat race on Saturday and then compete in a 250-lap feature on Sunday afternoon.

Anthony Alfredo returns in the No. 38 DUDE Wipes Ford Mustang. Alfredo will make his first start on dirt, but is looking forward to the new challenge.

Saturday’s 134-lap Camping World Truck Series race starts at 8:00 p.m. ET and will be televised live on FS1.

Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race begins at 3:30 p.m. ET with the live broadcast on FOX.

The biggest question heading into the weekend is, “What will this be like?” Gilliland, for one, is not concerned.

“It will be fine,” quipped Gilliland. “We raced at Eldora and there were a lot of questions before the first race there, but we put on a great show. I expect the same this weekend. I think the fans will love it and we’ll see great racing. It’s just like grassroots racing, and that’s fun.”

Gilliland has reason for optimism heading into Saturday night’s race in his Speedco Ford F-150. He finished fifth at Eldora in 2019.

“Eldora was fun and Bristol will be fun, too,” said Gilliland. “It’s not easy, and it’s totally different, but it is fun. I think we have a chance for a great night, but there will be a full field of trucks. So, we’ll have to work hard and race hard, too. I’m looking forward to it.”

McDowell is another driver who is also looking forward to a new challenge and something different on the schedule.

“This brings so many new elements that we usually don’t face,” said McDowell. “How do you set up the car, what will track conditions be like and how will the track change, what will the tires do? So, you have a lot of things that you’re thinking about. But, this helps us too. We’re in a level playing field because nobody knows for sure. So, yeah, I love it.”

McDowell enters the weekend 13th in the standings and knows this is a chance to gain more points.

“This is a great opportunity for us,” explained McDowell. “Because it’s not an ‘aero’ race and nobody has done this with a Cup car. We are all new. I think this is a great chance to earn a lot of points, race up front and get a good finish for Love’s Travel Stops.”

Ready to clean up any mess on Sunday afternoon will be Anthony Alfredo and his No. 38 DUDe Wipes Ford Mustang.

“We have the best partner for this race with DUDE Wipes,” said Alfredo. “They help us stay clean.

“But, really, I think that will be a big part of a good race. Who can stay out of trouble and keep their car free of major damage. If you go out there and get too aggressive, you’re going to end up in a had situation. We’ll want to take care of the car and be there for the last laps of the race. Then you can really throw it wide open.”

Alfredo will be making his debut on the dirt, but has relied on iRacing to get used to the track.

“I’ve said that iRacing is very realistic and it has helped me,” said Alfredo. “It’s what I had to learn this week, so I’ve been making laps and hopefully it helps this weekend.”


Front Row Motorsports (FRM) is a winning organization in the NASCAR Cup and Camping World Truck Series and the 2021 Daytona 500 champions. The team was founded in 2004 and is owned by successful entrepreneur, Bob Jenkins. FRM fields the No. 34 and the No. 38 NASCAR Cup Series teams along with the No. 38 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team– from its Mooresville, N.C. headquarters. Visit and follow FRM on social media: Twitter at @Team_FRM, Instagram at @team_frm and Facebook at

Kevin Harvick is 30/1 to win Bristol Dirt Race



Bristol Dirt Advance

No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing



Event Overview


●  Event:  Food City Dirt Race (Round 7 of 36)

●  Time/Date:  3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, March 28

●  Location:  Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway

●  Layout:  .533-mile, high-banked, dirt oval

●  Laps/Miles:  250 laps/133.25 miles

●  Stage Lengths:  Stage 1: 75 laps / Stage 2: 75 laps / Final Stage: 100 laps

●  TV/Radio:  FOX / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio


Notes of Interest


●  Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is one of only three drivers to have started the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season with five top-10 finishes in the first six races. The other drivers are championship leader Denny Hamlin and second-place Kyle Larson. No driver has finished in the top-10 in every race this season.


●  Harvick will venture outside his comfort zone this weekend when he makes his 41st career NASCAR Cup Series start at Bristol on Sunday. Despite three wins, 13 top-fives, 20 top-10s and 1,138 laps led at the .533-mile oval since 2001, none of it matters this time around. Bristol’s concrete is now covered with dirt and those accolades have been buried. The Food City Dirt Race is here.


●  Do you remember the Prelude to the Dream? Of course you do, because like Ron Burgundy in Anchorman, it was “kind of a big deal.” The charity dirt late model race that Tony Stewart hosted at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, from 2005 to 2012 was where many NASCAR Cup Series drivers got their first taste of dirt racing. Harvick was one of those drivers. He competed in four Preludes – 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 – and earned a best finish of seventh in 2008. But that wasn’t Harvick’s only experience on dirt. During this same timeframe, Harvick also raced an IMCA dirt modified on a handful of occasions, making one-off appearances at such tracks as Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio, Macon (Ill.) Speedway and even in his hometown when he raced at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway.


●  The last Prelude was in 2012, and taking its place at Eldora was the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series when in 2013 the Truck Series began a seven-year run at the half-mile, dirt oval. That inaugural race on July 24 was the first time in more than four decades a top NASCAR series had competed on dirt – the last being Sept. 30, 1970 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh where Richard Petty took the 117th of his record 200 career NASCAR Cup Series wins. Like Eldora, it was on a Wednesday night and contested on a half-mile oval. There was never a repeat winner in the Truck Series race at Eldora, and six of its seven winners are entered in the Food City Dirt Race – Austin Dillon (2013), Bubba Wallace (2014), Christopher Bell (2015), Kyle Larson (2016), Chase Briscoe (2018) and Stewart Friesen (2019). The lone winner not entered at Bristol is 2017 victor Matt Crafton.


●  Speaking of Trucks, Harvick will climb into a Ford F-150 for Saturday’s Truck Series race at Bristol to further acclimate himself to Bristol’s Brave Dirt World. Harvick will race the No. 17 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford for David Gilliland Racing. It will be Harvick’s 124th career Truck Series start, but his first since Aug. 1, 2015 when he finished second in the Truck Series race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.


Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing


The Bristol dirt race has created buzz and it’s been greatly anticipated since it was announced last year. What’s your take on it?

“The Bristol dirt race is really challenging because I’m just not a fan of racing on dirt, in general. It’s just not something I’ve done a lot of. I love to watch dirt racing, but for me as a driver, it’s not something that I’ve really enjoyed doing. But that also motivates me – to go out and try to figure it out, do something that’s very different from anything I’ve ever done, especially at this level of racing. That motivates me and my Busch Light team to see if we can go and figure something out that’s way outside of our comfort zone.”


What do you think about the concept of the Bristol dirt race – putting dirt over the concrete on which you typically race?

“Bristol dirt – it’s actually something I would never do if I was choosing to pick a race. I would never decide to put dirt on any racetrack, ever. It’s not something I grew up doing, nor something that I’ve enjoyed when I’ve done it along the way. But I can tell you it’s probably the single best event that we will do this year just because of the fact that it’s so different, so far outside the box, and I think the anticipation leading up to it has been a lot of fun for all of us. So, I’m looking forward to the event and being a part of it. The challenge of doing something way outside my comfort zone is always something I enjoy once I do it, and I’m like everybody else, I just want to see how it’s going to turn out.”


What are your expectations for the Bristol dirt race?

“Our racecars aren’t going to drive like dirt cars. They’re drastically different in the way that you drive them. The things that I’ve seen at Eldora in the Truck Series, it’s just a different style dirt race. It’s the most intriguing event we have on the schedule. I think when I look at the Bristol dirt race, it’s going to be our most anticipated race that we go to and, as a competitor, being a part of an event like that is something that every sport needs. We’ve changed the schedule drastically this year. It got people thinking outside the box and got everybody outside their comfort zones, and that’s fun to watch. The more people that watch, the better off we all are. So, I’m excited about the event and what an accomplishment that would be to figure it out the first time around and do something outside my comfort zone. There’s nothing more rewarding than doing that. Every time I do, I’m like, ‘Man, that was pretty rewarding.’ It’s just not something that I would normally do, and it’s definitely going to test my comfort zone.”


You’re running the Truck Series race at Bristol on Saturday prior to Sunday’s Cup race. What do you want to get out of that race and apply to the Cup car?

“I’m just not on board with the fact that I need to go to a dirt track and practice, or I need to go drive a dirt car or I need to go drive a midget or whatever everybody else is doing. I’m of the opinion that I drive a Cup car for a living and it’s going to drive like a Cup car, but it’s just going to be on a dirt track. Myself and Rodney (Childers, crew chief) sat down and felt like there was no significant advantage to going and doing anything else that was not on the same racetrack, and the Truck is the closest vehicle that I can get in that’s on the same racetrack and we can get some laps. To practice those two vehicles back-to-back on Friday, jump in the Truck and do the heat races, and then do the heat races in the Cup car, after that I feel like we’ll know a lot more come race time on Sunday than we would’ve doing it a different way.”


What is your dirt-racing experience? The last time you raced on dirt was the 2009 Prelude to the Dream at Eldora, and you ran that race four times overall (2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009). What might you be able to apply from running those races to the Bristol dirt race?

“I ran Tony Stewart’s Prelude to the Dream at Eldora four times, and the last one was in 2009. I actually ran a lot of races on dirt around that time. The only one I ever won was at Dave Blaney’s track (Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio) and that was in an IMCA car. But I ran the IMCA car several times that year, probably four or five times. I’m fairly certain I ran in my hometown of Bakersfield (California), I ran at Blaney’s track in Ohio, I ran at Macon in Illinois, I ran in Minnesota – all that stuff was around the time when I raced in the Prelude.”


When you ran those IMCA races, who did you drive for?

“I had my own car that I ran at three or four of them, and another owner’s car in Bakersfield, and at that time I was teammates with (Clint) Bowyer. Most everything was done by Mike Dillon with their dirt team. They had everything in place and they built the car for me and everything. So, Team Dillon was doing everything for us on that side of it.”


If running a dirt late model or an IMCA car or a midget doesn’t help much for this race because those cars aren’t applicable to a Cup car, how does a dirt background help a driver?

“As far as the dirt background, I think the biggest thing for me where I’ll probably fall a little bit short of those guys who have that dirt experience is just knowing where you can push the car, where the line is going, when it’s going to move back down, when it’s going to be in the middle, and when it’s rubbered up. I feel like I’m going to be slow to react in those situations. In dirt racing, a lot of times the guy who reacts first and finds that quick line is the guy who makes up the most ground, and then everybody else just follows along until the next guy finds a line. So I feel like that’s probably my weak point – figuring out exactly when to move and when not to move.”


One of those guys with an extensive dirt background is your teammate, Chase Briscoe. He’s a NASCAR Cup Series rookie, but when it comes to the Bristol dirt race, he’ll be one of the more experienced guys on the racetrack. How much will you look to him for guidance this weekend?

“Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and I had this conversation and I feel like this is a weekend where you just follow what Chase does. That’s really going to be our approach. You look at those throttle traces, you look at those ideas and suggestions and the feedback that he has from his experience in the Truck on the dirt and his dirt-racing background – we’re just going to take our Busch Light Ford Mustang and we’re going to park it right behind him. We’ll start there and listen to what he does and try to be as quick of a learner as possible and progress from there. SHR is fortunate as a company to have him – especially on this particular weekend to be able to help guide the ship. I feel a bit out of touch with what, exactly, you need to do there, and sometimes you just have to keep your mouth shut and take the advice from the people who have more experience on it than I do. That’s really going to be the approach this weekend.”

Kyle Busch is 20/1 to win 20201 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol



Back to the Dirt


HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (March 23, 2021) – The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway this weekend for its first of two racing events for 2021. However, this weekend is set to be different than any other time the series has competed there, for its half-mile, high-banked, concrete oval is now covered in dirt and NASCAR’s top series is set to compete on a dirt racing surface for the first time in more than 50 years during Sunday’s Food City Dirt Race.


For Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Messages Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), one doesn’t have to dig too deep to find when he last competed on a dirt surface. In fact, it was just this past Friday and Saturday nights, when Busch took to the Bristol dirt oval behind the wheel of a dirt super late model for Double L Motorsports in the Karls Kustoms Bristol Dirt Nationals.


The Dirt Nationals appearance added to an already busy racing weekend for the two-time Cup Series champion, as he won the B-Main and finished 13th on Friday night at Bristol, then made a day trip down to Atlanta Motor Speedway Saturday to not only compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race for his own Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team, but also brought home his 60th series victory. Following his Truck Series victory, Busch flew back to Bristol to compete in night two of the Dirt Nationals. The heats for Saturday night were conducted during the Truck Series race, so Busch was forced to make his way to the main event through the B-Main, and Busch did so by finishing in the runner-up spot. Busch then finished his busy day with an 11th-place finish in the main event but, more importantly, added some welcome experience on Bristol’s dirt oval in preparation for this weekend’s Cup Series race.


Busch capped off his weekend back at Atlanta with a fifth-place finish in Sunday’s Cup Series race.


While Busch has mostly a pavement racing background, he’s not a complete stranger to dirt-track racing. While he did run some dwarf cars, legends cars, and even modifieds on dirt as a kid growing up, he didn’t get back to the dirt until he participated in the Prelude to the Dream dirt super late model charity event at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, from 2007 through 2012. In the final Prelude to the Dream event in 2012, Busch broke through and won against a strong field of competitors in a car prepared by dirt super late model stalwart Scott Bloomquist.

While dirt-track racing is a relatively new concept to NASCAR and its fans, they won’t be able to miss Busch’s familiar yellow No. 18 M&M’S Messages Toyota this weekend, with the scheme returning for the second weekend in a row. The message “I’m Not Competitive, I Just Hate Losing” will fittingly adorn Busch’s car this weekend, and he hopes NASCAR’s return to dirt will yield some strong results.


M&M’S Messages packs are featured in the beloved fan-favorite flavors – Milk Chocolate, Peanut, Peanut Butter and Caramel. Fans can find M&M’S Messages on shelves at retailers nationwide for a limited time, or they can order their favorite M&M’S Messages packaging design by visiting


To further support the M&M’S Messages scheme, fans can tweet their favorite expression from one of 28 different M&M’S Messages packs available using the hashtag #MMSSweepstakes. The promotion, which will close at 9 a.m. EDT Sunday, aims to bring better moments and more smiles to the faces of M&M’S Racing and Busch fans across the country. As part of the promotion, select fans will be randomly chosen to win signed M&M’S Racing hats and diecasts, in addition to the grand prize – a signed piece of Busch’s No.18 M&M’S Toyota Camry.


So, as the Cup Series heads back to the dirt for the first time since 1970, Busch is hoping to send a message yet again that he means business by bringing home a historic win on Sunday afternoon.


KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Messages Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 


What is your outlook on Bristol?


For me, I’m not a dirt guy. I didn’t grow up like Kyle Larson. Kyle Larson is known as a dirt guy, but I did race dirt when I was a kid. I raced Legend cars, modifieds, all on dirt, and then pavement ever since. I did run the super late models on dirt with the Prelude races that Tony (Stewart) had years ago. I was able to finish first, second, third in a few of those, so it was pretty fun. Those cars are made for dirt. Every time people ask, ‘Why wouldn’t you race a truck (at Eldora)’ – these things are just so heavy, and the tire is not at all conducive to producing grip. It seems like it’s a full-fledged ice rink. Literally, you are just out there on ice, trying to make your way around the track. That’s why I’d never given much participation to it, but obviously now, I have no choice. It’s in the Cup Series, so we will go out there and give it everything we’ve got and see what we can do. Our team has really relied heavily on Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) as to what we’ve done with the trucks and the Truck Series with the success that we’ve had. We’ve won with Bubba Wallace. We’ve won with Christopher Bell. We could have won another one with Christopher, I feel like, but we had some things happen in that race. It’s just going to be a learning experience, for sure. These vehicles are nothing like I’ve driven on dirt, probably, so it’s going to be interesting. We’ll do what we can to get a good run with our M&M’S Messages Toyota.”


What is the importance of the heat races and the practices?


“I don’t know. I don’t really know what to expect. The biggest thing is just what the track is going to be, what state is the track going to be in. They talk about heavy, and in our team meeting yesterday, I was talking about heavy, and Christopher Bell looked at me and was like, ‘What are you talking about? The dirt race we had the other night, it was never heavy. He’s talking about mud getting plastered to your visor and you having to do tear-offs every straightaway, but the heaviest it was when we ran the other night was just little specks kind of hitting you on the visor. You can’t really have that with our cars, because you are just going to get mud on the windshields and then you are not going to be able to see. You don’t have the opportunity to pull visors, so it’s going to have to be more dry slick, more slippery through much of the event and you are just going to have to be ready for whatever conditions come on the track, knowing those conditions are always going to change. I don’t know if it’s really going to be much car and setup and stuff like that involved, as much as it’s just going to be the racecar driver and trying to figure out what lines your car works best in and making the most of the opportunity.”


Do the drivers with dirt experience have an advantage?


“The dirt guys, I would say, definitely have an advantage. The more experience you have on dirt, the more trust you have in what the vehicle can do on dirt and what your driving style is, or what your driving technique can be, and how you can trust the grip level that the dirt has versus what your car has. I think there are a lot of things the dirt guys can really pick up on. You always see in those truck races the guys who are good at it, that put some time into it, are better than the ones that do not. I can’t name them all, but (Kyle) Larson, Christopher (Bell), (Tyler) Reddick, even Bubba (Wallace). Bubba never really had any dirt experience, but he did a good job in the Eldora race for us. (Stewart) Friesen, I think he will actually do a really good job. He’s obviously known as a dirt guy. Those guys will shine, and I think they will be faster during points of the weekend, but I think it’s all going to be circumstantial on how it comes down to the end and what exactly happens toward the finish.”


Did Joe Gibbs Racing lean on Kyle Busch Motorsports with its dirt experience?


“Definitely. We were an open book as far as all the experiences that we have had with Eldora and the races that we’ve run on dirt over there. Setup stuff, I don’t know how much of that can be the same, but definitely some of the pieces and components, and the things that we would do in order to prepare for the dirt race. One of them is as simple as just knowing that you need a Swiffer in your car. The cars build enough dust and dirt and there’s enough static electricity on the windshield, the plexiglass, that it will pick up and keep the dirt on the inside of the windows, so you need something to clean off the windows under yellow. It’s just little stuff like that, that I think is imperative to your success at the Bristol dirt race.”