NASCAR: The 3 drivers who got a really raw deal at Bristol

Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Three drivers didn’t have the chance to compete in the NASCAR Truck Series dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway because of the cancelation of the heat races.

After one lap of the first of four scheduled Saturday heat races to set the starting lineup for the NASCAR Truck Series race on the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt, the red flag was thrown as a result of the adverse conditions.

Rain had turned the dirt into mud, and that mud was being flung onto the windshields of the cars, making visibility next to impossible.

As a result, the heat races were canceled, the 150-lap Pinty’s Dirt Race around the four-turn, 0.533-mile (0.858-kilometer) high-banked oval in Bristol, Tennessee was postponed from Saturday night to Sunday night (and then again to Monday afternoon), and NASCAR changed the way by which the starting lineup would be set.

The starting lineup formula, which has been used regularly since late last season, would set the 40-car field.

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There were 44 drivers on the entry list for this race. So as a result of the fact that the starting lineup formula, not actual heat races, was used to set the starting lineup for it, four drivers ended up not being able to compete.

However, one of those drivers, CMI Motorsports’ Andrew Gordon, still ended up competing behind the wheel of his #49 Chevrolet as a result of the fact that Jordan Anderson Racing’s J.R. Heffner withdrew due to a crash in practice on Friday. But the other three of them did not get to do so, and with all things considered, they technically never had a chance.

Those three drivers are DCC Racing’s Ryan Newman, who was set to pilot the #39 Ford, Halmar Friesen Racing’s Jessica Friesen, who was set to compete in the #62 Toyota alongside her husband Stewart behind the wheel of the #52 Toyota, and CMI Motorsports’ Trevor Collins, who was set to drive the #83 Chevrolet.

These three drivers will have “DNQ” listed as the official reason for not competing in the race.

Of note, Newman had made 766 career NASCAR national series starts prior to Monday’s Truck Series without a DNQ, so this decision ended what was an impressive 22-year streak.

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Newman had effectively been planning to compete in this race to prepare for the Cup Series race, the first on dirt in over 50 years. He still finished that race, which was also contested on Monday afternoon, in a season-best fifth place despite an early spin. But of the seven full-time Cup Series drivers who had planned to compete in the Truck Series race, he was the only one who did not get to do so.