Among the questions raised by the NASCAR dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway was one about whether the current car could make a return in 2022.
One of NASCAR‘s goals entering the race weekend on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway was to learn as much as they possibly could before moving forward.
Sure enough, during the 253-lap Cup Series race around the four-turn, 0.533-mile (0.858-kilometer) high-banked oval in Bristol, Tennessee, the first Cup Series race on dirt since September 1970, it was confirmed that the track would again be covered in dirt for a race weekend in 2022.
Many questions were raised by that announcement, given some of the things with which NASCAR was forced to deal this time around in terms of preparing the track and the race weekend itself.
One such question was about the NASCAR Next Gen car.
The Generation 7 car was slated to be introduced ahead of the 2021 season, but its introduction was postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic drastically affecting the 2020 season.
However, is there a chance that the Gen 7 car won’t be used for all 36 races on next year’s schedule? Could the current car make a return for the spring race on the dirt track?
This was a question raised by several individuals within the industry, most notably Trackhouse Racing Team co-owner Justin Marks and Team Penske competition director Travis Geisler, and it is something that NASCAR will need to decide on moving forward based on all the information they have available to them.
Here is what Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, had to say after Monday afternoon’s race, which was won by Team Penske’s Joey Logano .
“Certainly learned a number of things in the race and throughout the week that we can apply as we go forward in 2022.”
One specific thing to consider here is the fact that the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt race weekend is again set to take place early in the season next year.
Given the challenges faced by the sport on dirt with the current car, what kind of additional challenges can they expect on dirt with a new car next year?
Is this new car even one that is viable in a race on a surface other than pavement?
Before next spring’s dirt race at the “Last Great Colosseum”, however, the dirt is all set to be removed ahead of a traditional race on the pavement. The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, the third of three races on the schedule for the round of 16 of the playoffs, is scheduled to be contested at the track on Saturday, September 18, and it is set to be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.