NASCAR: 3 eventual replacements for the Bristol dirt race

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NASCAR’s attempt to relive its grassroots start has led to mixed reviews. With an uncertain future beyond next year, here are three eventual replacement possibilities for the Bristol dirt race.

Reliving its grassroots start for was an uncertain task NASCAR faced when they announced they would take the four-turn, 0.533-mile (0.858-kilometer) Bristol Motor Speedway oval in Bristol, Tennessee and cover it in clay, dirt, and sawdust.

Layers of anything but concrete or asphalt were added with the goal of producing a race to highlight who could contend on a non-traditional race track.

The Bristol dirt race has indeed highlighted those who come from dirt backgrounds, with drivers such as Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, and Chase Briscoe all heading into the race as favorites. Larson and Bell began an unexpected rivalry in last year’s race, and Reddick and Briscoe saw a more traditional dirt race finish this year with a not-so-great slide job resulting in a spin.

But it has also served as a stage for other drivers to gain a new skill in their NASCAR career. For example, Joey Logano, a native of Middletown, Connecticut, wasn’t a dirt racer, but he won the inaugural event last year.

However, the event itself has seen some faults. Last year’s race saw mandatory cautions and several red flags for dirt being stuck to the grille and covering the windshields, leading to unnecessary wrecks due to visibility issues.

This year, the dirt was “caked in” more, but only aided by rain and red flags. Following two attempts at this race, there are still some major questions, leading some to suggest it may not return to the schedule next year.

While it’s confirmed that the dirt race will return in 2023, is it really a long-term answer? What if the novelty wears off and this weekend’s race on concrete proves that the Next Gen car has no need for the dirt race?

With NASCAR changing their schedule to add a variety of tracks every season, it’s possible a third time could be the charm for the dirt race to be taken off the schedule. Here are three possible replacements if that indeed happens.

Bristol dirt replacements: No. 1 – Eldora Speedway

Eldora Speedway is probably the least likely option, but it would be a better fit for dirt racing if NASCAR chooses to continue in that fashion. The 0.5-mile (0.805-kilometer) clay dirt oval in New Weston, Ohio is owned by Hall of Famer and Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart.

The Truck Series competed on the track from 2013 to 2019. But Stewart’s use of the track in his racing series, SRX, may not only be the reason why the Truck Series has since gone to Knoxville Speedway in Knoxville, Iowa instead, but also the reason why Bristol Motor Speedway was covered in dirt in the first place.

If the sport wants to take the Gen 7 car to dirt, the proper way to do it would be on an established dirt track, rather than a makeshift track. It’s highly unlikely, but never say never.

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