NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Food City Dirt Race
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt
The Date: Sunday, March 28
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 125 miles (250 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 75), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 150), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 250)
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Cook Out 250
The Place: Martinsville Speedway
The Date: Friday, April 9
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 131.5 miles (250 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 250)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt
The Date: Saturday, March 27
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 75 miles (150 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 40), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 150)
NASCAR Cup Series
Gettin’ Dirty: More than 50 years since NASCAR Cup Series has competed on dirt
Not since the checkered flag flew on NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty for winning the race on September 30, 1970 at North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, North Carolina has the NASCAR Cup Series competed on a dirt track. Now more than 50 years later, the series is getting back to its roots in this weekend’s Food City Dirt Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) as more than 20,000 cubic yards of dirt were hauled in to create the temporary dirt track surface.
The NASCAR Cup Series has had a long legacy of racing at dirt tracks prior to the Modern Era (1972-Present), from 1949 to 1970 the series competed in 501 races on dirt. The very first NASCAR Cup Series points-paying sanctioned race in the inaugural season of 1949 was on dirt at Charlotte (Old) Speedway, a 0.75-mile track in Charlotte, North Carolina and the event was won by Jim Roper driving a Lincoln.
|Top 10 Cup Winners On Dirt|
|Rank||Cup Dirt Winners||Wins|
In total, the 501 dirt Cup races have produced 76 different winners. NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty leads the series in dirt track wins with 46 victories; followed by Buck Baker with 42 and Herb Thomas with 41.
This week the competitors will be tasked with wrangling a Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track that has been measured to exactly 0.5-mile, and this weekend’s event will be 125 miles (250 laps) in length. The race will be broken up into three stages. The first two stages are 75 laps each and the final stage is 100 laps.
Plus, NASCAR has instituted a special format for Busch Pole Qualifying that includes qualifying races, very similar to what the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series did at Eldora Speedway, to decide the starting lineup. The lineups for the qualifying races will be done by random draw on Thursday, March 25 at 4 p.m. ET. There are four qualifying races scheduled with 39 entrants competing. The first three qualifying races will have 10 drivers each and the fourth qualifying race will have nine drivers entered.
Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt – Qualifying & Race Formats
This weekend’s racing will have special formats for both the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. Below are details on the 2021 Bristol qualifying and race formats:
- Heat Race Starting Lineup – Random draw determines heat race designation and starting position for the heat race. The draw will be in order of current owner points.
- Qualifying Heat Races – Four qualifying races held at 15 laps each with only green flag laps counted – no overtime rule. Free pass and wave around procedures will be in effect.
- Passing Points – Drivers will accumulate points in the heat races based on finishing position and passing points. The points total determines the starting position for the feature event.
- Passing Points = The difference between assigned starting position and finishing position
- Go forward – accumulate passing points
- Go backward or finish where you started – zero passing points
- Tiebreaker – Owner Points
- Passing Points = The difference between assigned starting position and finishing position
- Feature – Lineup based on combined points of Heat Race finishing position and passing points. Feature race will be 250 laps (NCWTS: 150 laps) divided into three stages (NCS: 75/150/250) / (NCWTS: 40/90/150). Running order will be frozen at the conclusion of each stage. During the stage breaks, teams can change tires, add fuel and make adjustments to their cars/trucks. These non-competitive pit stops must be completed in a time designated by NASCAR (TBD). No fuel or tires except at stage breaks. (Note: Teams will not be required to pit during the stage breaks. Teams that elect not to pit will re-start ahead of teams that pitted. Re-start order determined by the freeze at the conclusion of the preceding stage)
- Additional Event Highlights – Choose rule will not be in effect for the Bristol Dirt race. The overtime rules, free pass and wave around procedures will be in effect.
Streak Continues: Six different winners in the first six Cup races
Hendrick Motorsport’s Kyle Larson dominated Atlanta Motor Speedway last weekend and looked to be ending the NASCAR Cup Series different winners streak that has been running through the first five races of the 2021 season. But in the closing laps of the Atlanta race, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney passed Larson to keep the streak alive making the 2021 season the eighth different year to start with six different drivers in Victory Lane; joining 2014, 2003, 2001, 2000, 1991, 1986, 1984. Now the NASCAR Cup Series is heading to the wildcard of wildcards, the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track to see if the streak can make it to seven different winners. Only four seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era (1972-Present) have started with seven different winners: 2014, 2003, 2000 and 1991.
The Modern Era record of different winners to start a NASCAR Cup Series season is 10 set back in 2000. Dale Earnhardt Jr. snapped the streak winning his second race of the 2000 season at Richmond (Race No. 11).
|2000||1||Dale Jarrett||Daytona||Sunday, February 20, 2000|
|2000||2||Bobby Labonte||Rockingham||Sunday, February 27, 2000|
|2000||3||Jeff Burton||Las Vegas||Sunday, March 5, 2000|
|2000||4||Dale Earnhardt||Atlanta||Sunday, March 12, 2000|
|2000||5||Ward Burton||Darlington||Sunday, March 19, 2000|
|2000||6||Rusty Wallace||Bristol||Sunday, March 26, 2000|
|2000||7||Dale Earnhardt Jr||Texas||Sunday, April 2, 2000|
|2000||8||Mark Martin||Martinsville||Sunday, April 9, 2000|
|2000||9||Jeff Gordon||Talladega||Sunday, April 16, 2000|
|2000||10||Jeremy Mayfield||Auto Club||Sunday, April 30, 2000|
In the Modern Era (1972-2021), the record for the most different NASCAR Cup Series winners in a single season in its entirety is 19 set back in 2001. The series has also seen a total of 18 different winners (second-most) in a single season twice – in 2002 and 2011. Last season the series produced 13 different winners.
Cup drivers who have delved into the dirt before
When you start to think about drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series that have cut their teeth on the dirt tracks across this country, a few names like Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe jump to the forefront, but what might be surprising is several drivers have dabbled in dirt over the years and this weekend could be the opportunity they were looking for to showcase their skills and get to Victory Lane.
Six of the seven winners from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Eldora Speedway are entered this weekend – Austin Dillon (2013), Bubba Wallace (2014), Christopher Bell (2015), Kyle Larson (2016), Chase Briscoe (2018) and making his NASCAR Cup Series debut this weekend, Stewart Friesen (2019). Matt Crafton won the Eldora race in 2017 but is not entered in the Cup race on Sunday.
In total, 17 drivers entered in this weekend’s Food City Dirt Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track have competed on the dirt at Eldora Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series from 2013-2019.
|Cup Drivers Average Finish at Eldora Speedway|
|Rank||Active Drivers||Avg. Finish||Starts|
One driver that shined every time he got behind the wheel on dirt at Eldora was Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe. Not only does the 2021 Sunoco rookie candidate have a win at the track (2018), but he also leads all the active Cup drivers with previous starts at Eldora in average finish with a 3.667 in three starts.
Dirt racing is in Chase Briscoe’s blood. His grandfather, Richard Briscoe, was a sprint car owner, builder and crew chief who fielded cars for legendary drivers such as Chuck Amati, Dave Blaney (the Buckeye Bullet), Dick Gaines, Jack Hewitt, Steve Kinser and Rich Vogler. Plus, Briscoe’s father, Kevin Briscoe, raced sprint cars for more than 20 years and won more than 150 feature events. He claimed track championships at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana, and Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway five times, including one streak of three consecutive.
Briscoe began racing sprint cars full-time in 2008, and he won the final race of the season at Paragon Speedway, his first win in a 410-sprint car. The victory was record breaking, at 13 years old, Briscoe became the youngest driver to win in a 410-sprint car, supplanting the previous record holder NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon (Gordon was 14). From there, Briscoe moved on to wing and non-winged mini sprint divisions in 2016 and won at the Tulsa Shootout in both. Since 2015, he has regularly competed at the Chili Bowl Nationals.
Some other new faces to keep an eye on this weekend are Spire Motorsport’s Stewart Friesen, Rick Ware Racing’s Chris Windom and Live Fast Motorsport’s Shane Golobic, all of which mastered their driving talents on dirt.
Stewart Friesen will be piloting the No. 77 Spore Motorsports Chevrolet in his series debut this weekend. Friesen is the most recent winner at Eldora in the Camping World Truck Series (2019). Friesen, a native of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, is a decorated stand out of Dirt Modifieds and Sprint Cars with over 330 victories in his dirt racing career stretching back to 1999. Friesen won the Short Track Super Series North and South Championships in 2020.
Shane Golobic, a Fremont, California native, is an accomplished winged/non-winged sprint car and midget racer. Golobic, 25, is a talented young driver with ability to adapt to various racing surfaces and cars. He has made three ARCA Menards Series West starts posting two top-10 finishes. Golobic is also a World of Outlaw Feature winner, USAC National Midget Feature Winner, 2016 Trophy Cup Champion, 2014 Civil War Series Champion, 2012 and 2014 Ocean Speedway Champion, 2009 Calistoga Speedway Champion and has claimed over 45 career feature wins. Golobic will pilot the No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford this weekend.
Chris Windom, a Canton, Illinois native, was the seventh driver to complete a United States Auto Club (USAC) Triple Crown by winning titles in sprint cars, midget cars, and Silver Crown.
Windom won the 2017 USAC National Sprint Car Championship, the 2016 USAC Silver Crown Championship, and the 2020 National Midget Car championship. He is also a two-time Indiana Sprint Week (2011, 2018) & Eastern Storm (2017, 2018) champion, and a two-time winner of the Little 500 (2011, 2015). Windom has also made seven career starts in the ARCA Menards Series between 2011-2015 posting two top fives and five top 10s. He has also made five career starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series including two starts at Eldora Speedway where he posted a best finish of 14th.
Larson’s Luck: Last week was a heart breaker, this week could be a soul shaker
Last Sunday, Kyle Larson suffered a heartbreaking runner-up finish to Ryan Blaney at Atlanta Motor Speedway after dominating the event and winning the first two stages. It was the fourth time in Larson’s career he had won the first two stages of a race but didn’t bring home the checkered flag. Now the 28-year-old is looking to build on the early season strength and win the first Cup Series race on dirt in more than 50 years. A lot of drivers have raced on dirt before making their way to the NASCAR Cup Series, but none have come with such prestige, built on the success from dirt racing, as Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Kyle Larson.
The Elk Grove, Calif. native, has built an extensive and impressive racing resume with more than 250 career race wins. In fact, he has won in every racing series he’s competed in (NASCAR Cup, NASCAR Xfinity, NASCAR Camping World Truck, K&N East/West, ARCA, Sprint Car, Midget, Silver Crown, Late Model and IMSA). Most notably, Larson has earned seven victories in the NASCAR Cup Series and won the prestigious Chili Bowl Midget Nationals twice in 2020 and 2021, the NASCAR All-Star Race in 2019, and the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2015. He also won the 2011 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway, winning in all three types of USAC cars in a single night, only the second driver in history to accomplish the feat. But Larson’s legend doesn’t end there, in 2020, he turned in one of the most impressive years in the history of dirt-track racing. While primarily driving sprint cars, he racked up an incredible 46 victories in 97 attempts. Larson led the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series in victories with 12 despite competing in only 26 of its 54 events and he secured his first Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series win.
Larson has also competed in three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Eldora Speedway posting a win in 2016 and an average finish of 9.67.
Denny Hamlin’s consistent pace has him out front
Joe Gibbs Racing’s driver Denny Hamlin has set sail on the competition in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings. The Chesterfield, Virginia native, is currently leading the series driver standings by 43 points over second place Kyle Larson after he posted his fifth top-five finish in the first six races of the year.
Though Hamlin has yet to visit Victory Lane this season, he has been super consistent and leads the series in top fives (five) and is tied for the series-most top10s (five) with Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick.
This will be Hamlin’s first time competing on a dirt track in a NASCAR national series event but has found success on the paved Bristol track posting two wins (2012, 2019).
Ryan Blaney quickly adds his name to the Playoffs & All-Star lists
For the first time in his NASCAR Cup Series career at Team Penske, Ryan Blaney is the first of the three Penske drivers to get a win during a season and in the process has locked himself into the Playoffs and the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway on June 13.
Prior to this season’s win coming in just the sixth race of the year, the earliest in a season he has won was the 13th race of last season at Talladega Superspeedway. Plus, his win last week at Atlanta, marks the fifth consecutive season for the High Point, North Carolina native to win in the NASCAR Cup Series (2017-2021).
Now Blaney is ranked seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings 83 points behind Denny Hamlin in the series standings lead.
Looking ahead to this weekend on dirt, Blaney’s father, Dave Blaney, is a successful dirt racer earning the name the ‘Buckeye Bullet’. Ryan Blaney is one of 17 drivers that competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Eldora. He made two starts posting an average finish of 9.0.
Stewart Friesen to race #77 Spire Motorsports car in Cup career debut at Bristol Dirt
Spire Motorsports announced last week that Stewart Friesen will drive the No. 77 car on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 28, with Halmar International as the primary partner. The car will be adorned in Friesen’s traditional Halmar colors and will be prepared for competition by Spire and led by Crew Chief Kevin Bellicourt.
Friesen will have a full schedule on the Bristol dirt this Spring. In addition to the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race on March 28, Friesen will also be competing in the NASCAR Camping World Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt on March 27, the World of Outlaws Late Model Series Bristol Bash on April 9 and 10, and the Super Dirt Car Series Big Block Modifieds on April 23 and 24.
Friesen, who has over 330 career wins in dirt modified racing, won the last time the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series raced on dirt at Eldora Speedway in 2019.
“It’s a dream come true to compete in the Cup Series,” said Friesen. “It’s the pinnacle of motorsports in North America. As a race fan myself, it has always been something I’ve dreamed about doing.”
NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
Rising Country Star Larry Fleet to perform prior to the Food City Dirt Race – Praised by CMT as “a rising country artist with a rich, bluesy voice,” Larry Fleet has struck a major chord with fans and this weekend he will perform the pre-race concert at Bristol Motor Speedway prior to the start of the historic Food City Dirt Race.
The one-time construction worker who was discovered by fellow Country artist Jake Owen in 2017 while playing a friend’s backyard party, Fleet will take the stage at the Sugarlands Roof at Turn 4 in the track’s infield at approximately 2:30 p.m., safely distanced away from fans and participants.
Fleet’s first single, “Where I Find God” recently hit the airwaves to critical acclaim and follows the success of his first album, “Workin’ Hard,” which was released in November 2019 on Big Loud Records. His performance at BMS will be his first ever at a NASCAR event.
“I’ve always been a massive fan of Bristol and it’s been on my bucket list to go,” Fleet said. “Playing the pre-race show my first time being at the track makes it that much sweeter and it’s something I’ll always remember.”
Cup Stars In The Karl Kustoms Bristol Dirt Nationals – Headlined by the powerful dirt Super Late Models, the Karl Kustoms Bristol Dirt Nationals, March 15-20, provided fans with a first look at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track, which features 19-degrees of banking in the corners and a 50-foot wide racing surface. NASCAR Cup Series stars Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Core LaJoie are among the drivers who entered the Karl Kustoms Bristol Dirt Nationals in one of the eight classes of competition. The NASCAR drivers used the event to prepare for this weekend’s historic Food City Dirt Race.
“Having the opportunity to showcase some amazing dirt track racing during our 60th anniversary really is very special, given the overall roots of racing and the history that dirt has here at The Last Great Colosseum,” said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager, Bristol Motor Speedway.
Doubling The Duty On Dirt – Seven different NASCAR Cup Series drivers will be attempting to compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race this weekend at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track – Daniel Suarez, Chase Briscoe, Bubba Wallace, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. are all entered in the event.
Milestone To Watch For: Truex, Busch are racing to 10,000 laps led – Two drivers are looking to become the 19th and 20th different drivers all-time in the NASCAR Cup Series to lead 10,000 laps in their career. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. currently has 9,963 laps led, just 37 laps shy of reaching the 10,000-lap led goal. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch is not far behind Truex with 9,905 laps led, 95 laps shy of 10,000.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Justin Allgaier turns season around with victory at Atlanta
Justin Allgaier’s 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series season didn’t start out the way he had hoped. In five races, the driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet had only one top-10 finish. Allgaier had been involved in various on-track incidents and started the season at Daytona International Speedway by starting second and finishing 28th. But he turned that all around at Atlanta Motor Speedway last weekend by winning the race and taking home his first victory of the season all while punching his ticket to the Playoffs.
The win marked the 15th victory of Allgaier’s career. Now the veteran driver has an extra two weeks to enjoy the spoils of the win and regroup for the next event at Martinsville Speedway on April 9. A track he made his series debut at last season and finished second.
Atlanta didn’t disappoint
Last Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway was two hours, 10 minutes and 50 seconds long with an average speed of 115.117 mph that culminated in JR Motorsport’s driver Justin Allgaier beating second-place finisher and 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. by 1.449 seconds. Truex won both stages in his first race in the Xfinity Series since 2010and he led a race-high 103 laps, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Justin Allgaier.
Harrison Burton, Noah Gragson and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top five. Burton, Gragson, Allmendinger, along with Allgaier, all became Dash 4 Cash qualifiers as the four highest-finishing fulltime drivers in the race.
The Xfinity Series has a break this weekend as the Cup Series and Camping World Truck Series head to the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track. The next weekend the sport is off in observance of the Easter holiday so the series has quite a break to get everything in order.
The Cook Out 250 at Martinsville Speedway will take place at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, April 9.
Dash 4 Cash information
The NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash program was designed to add elements of unpredictability and drama leading up to and during four designated races, increase on-track competition, engage fans and reward / recognize NASCAR Xfinity Series regular competitors.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash will take place at four tracks in 2021:
- Martinsville Speedway (April 9)
- Drivers competing in Dash 4 Cash will be Justin Allgaier (No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet), Harrison Burton (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), Noah Gragson (No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet), AJ Allmendinger (No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet)
- Talladega Superspeedway (April 24)
- Darlington Raceway (May 8)
- Dover International Speedway (May 15)
The March 20 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be the initial qualifier for 2021 Dash 4 Cash program. The top four full-time finishers in the Atlanta race will qualify for the first round of the Dash 4 Cash at Martinsville Speedway on April 9.
The first of the four Dash 4 Cash competitors to finish at Martinsville Speedway will win the $100,000 bonus.
The Dash 4 Cash winner and next three highest finishing full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers will then qualify for the next round of the Dash 4 Cash program at Talladega. That format will continue to Darlington and Dover.
Playing In The Dirt: Xfinity drivers racing this weekend at Bristol
Despite the NASCAR Xfinity Series having the weekend off, three series drivers – Myatt Snider, Ty Dillon and Cody Ware – with their championship eligibility selected for the Xfinity Series this season are entered this weekend to take on the high-banks of the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track.
Richard Childress Racing’s Myatt Snider is having a breakout year in his NASCAR Xfinity Series career having posted his first win and clinched a spot in the Playoffs already this season. He sits seventh in the Xfinity driver standings 98 points behind Austin Cindric in the series standings lead. This weekend, Snider will be competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt for Reaume Brothers Racing in the No. 33 Chevrolet. Snider is no stranger to racing on dirt in the Truck Series he has one start at Eldora Speedway in 2018 where he started 15th and finished 20th.
Then on Sunday keep an eye out for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Dillon and Rick Ware Racing’s Cody Ware as both drivers will attempt to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series race at the Bristol Dirt track. Though both drivers are running part-time schedules in the Xfinity Series both have selected to run for a title in the series. Dillon has made three starts this season for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series posting a best finish of 14th in the season-opener at Daytona. Dillon is currently 36th in the series driver standings. This weekend Dillon will pilot the No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota. Dillon has quite a bit of experience on dirt. He made five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Eldora Speedway posting one top five and two top 10s.
Much like Dillon, Ware has made just three starts this season for Rick Ware Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series posting a best finish of 23rd last weekend at Atlanta. Ware is currently 43rd in the Xfinity driver standings. This weekend, Ware will once again be driving for Petty Ware Racing in the No. 51 Chevrolet. This weekend will be Ware’s first time competing in a NASCAR national series race on Dirt.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Atlanta-1:
|Rank||Driver||Points||Wins||Stage Wins||Playoff Pts||Pts From Cutoff|
|1||Austin Cindric||277||2||4||14||In On Wins|
With five different race winners so far in 2021 and four drivers already locked in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, there are a lot of shakeups each week in the Playoff picture.
Justin Allgaier took the fourth Playoff spot with his win at Atlanta over the weekend, joining Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger and Myatt Snider on the list of winners going to the postseason.
Daniel Hemric has stayed consistent and keeps the highest Playoff spot without a win. He’s 97 points above the cutline and has two stage wins and two Playoff points.
In terms of biggest surprises in the Playoff outlook so far, two drivers are standing out. Jeremy Clements has been in the top 12 for most of the season and has shown speed all year. For a small, one-car team (Jeremy Clements Racing), this is a big deal to them. Clements is currently 31 points above the Playoff cutline.
The same goes for Brandonbilt Motorsport’s driver Brandon Brown, who is having a career season and got a career-best finish of third at Phoenix Raceway. In total, Brown has made six starts this season posting one top-five and three top-10 finishes. He is currently eight points above the Playoff cutline.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year update
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs is still leading the charge in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He’s won two awards and has 88 points. He’s made two starts in 2021, including the first Xfinity Series start of his career and walked away with a win at the Daytona Road Course. His second start was at Phoenix Raceway, where he finished second from the 27th starting position.
Josh Berry is second in the rookie standings with 79 points and one award. Berry has made five starts for JR Motorsports this season and has a best finish of seventh at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Unfortunately, Berry has been the victim of some on-track incidents resulting in a 38th-place finish last week at Atlanta and a 36th-place finish at Phoenix the week prior. Of his five starts, he has three DNFs.
Ryan Vargas is third in the rookie standings with 60 points and three awards. Vargas has run in all six races so far this season and has a best finish of 18th in the season-opener at Daytona.
Jordan Anderson and Sam Mayer, who both have declared for rookie points for 2021, have not yet made a start so they are currently fourth and fifth in the rookie standings.
Chevrolet is leading the manufacturers championship standings right now with three wins and 221 points. Myatt Snider, AJ Allmendinger and Justin Allgaier got Chevrolet their three wins.
Ford is second in the manufacturer standings with two wins and 211 points. Ford’s two wins came from Austin Cindric in the season-opener and at Phoenix Raceway.
Toyota is in third with one win and 214 points. Their win came from Ty Gibbs at the Daytona Road Course.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Camping World Truck Series playing in the dirt at Bristol
While the NASCAR Cup Series will be racing on dirt this weekend for the first time in more than 50 years, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned to the surface in 2013 at Eldora Speedway in Ohio.
Although the 2020 edition of the Eldora race was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trucks will race on dirt twice this season – this weekend in Saturday night’s Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt (8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and later this season at Knoxville Speedway in Iowa.
Of the seven races run on the dirt at Eldora between 2013 and 2019, five of the race winners will try to qualify for this weekend’s race – Bubba Wallace (2014), Kyle Larson (2016), Matt Crafton (2017), Chase Briscoe (2018) and the most recent winner in 2019, Stewart Friesen.
In addition to Wallace (driving the No. 11 Toyota for Spencer Davis Motorsports) and Larson (No. 44 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet), several other NASCAR Cup Series regulars will be taking a turn on the dirt with the Camping World Truck Series.
Daniel Suarez (No. 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet), Kevin Harvick (No. 17 Team DGR Ford), Ryan Newman (No. 39 Diversified Custom Concepts Ford), and Martin Truex Jr. (No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota) will all be attempting to make the main event Saturday.
In total, there are 22 drivers entered (half the field) who have raced at least once at Eldora Speedway on the dirt in the Camping World Truck Series. Crafton and Johnny Sauter are the only drivers who competed in all seven Eldora races between 2013 and 2019.
And on top of Eldora dirt experience, a pair of drivers in the field have won an ARCA Menards Series West race on dirt – in the pair of races held on the dirt at Las Vegas. Sheldon Creed won there in 2018 while Hailie Deegan won the race in 2019. Derek Krause also won his qualifying race in each of those two years on the Las Vegas dirt.
Setting the Truck field and race format
A total of 44 trucks are currently entered for Saturday night’s Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt (8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) to vie for 40 spots in the final field for the 150-lap race.
To set the field, Saturday afternoon will feature four qualifying races with 11 trucks per race, starting at 4:30 p.m. ET. A random draw determines the heat race designation and starting position for the heat races, and the draw was done in the order of current owner points.
Each qualifying race will be 15 laps, with only green flag laps counting and the overtime rule will not be in effect. Free pass and wave around procedures will be in use.
Drivers will accumulate points in the heat races based on finishing position and passing points. Then, the lineup for the feature race will be based on combined points of heat race finishing position and passing points.
Passing points are defined as the difference between the assigned starting position and the finishing position of the trucks. There will only be positive passing points awarded for moving forward – if a driver finishes in the same or a lower position, they will receive zero points.
Finishing points are awarded as such (11th place will also receive one point):
The feature race will be 150 laps divided into three stages (40/90/150). The running order will be frozen at the conclusion of each stage. During the stage breaks, teams can change tires, add fuel and make adjustments to their trucks. Trucks cannot add fuel or change tires except at stage breaks.
Husband and wife team to tackle Bristol dirt
In a first for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, a married couple will attempt to compete against each other in a race. Jessica Friesen, a well-known sprint car and modifieds dirt racer, will be making her NASCAR national series debut while driving the No. 62 Halmar Friesen Racing Toyota.
The No. 62 will mark the first time Halmar Friesen has fielded a second truck for a race, and it will be alongside the familiar No. 52 of Jessica’s husband Stewart Friesen – the most recent NASCAR Camping World Truck Series dirt race winner (Eldora, 2019).
The Friesens have competed against each other in a race before (they actually finished first and second in a race at Utica-Rome Speedway two days after their wedding in 2014). But they will be attempting to become the first husband-wife duo to compete in the same NASCAR national series race since Elton Sawyer and Patty Moise last did it at Atlanta in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 1998.
The weekend won’t end on Saturday after the Camping World Truck Series race for the Friesens, however. Stewart will be running the No. 77 Spire Motorsports entry on Sunday in his NASCAR Cup Series debut.
Two drivers have locked in their spot in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs by virtue of wins this year – Ben Rhodes swept the opening pair of races on the Daytona superspeedway and road course configurations while John Hunter Nemechek won at Las Vegas.
And those two drivers lead the points, as well – Nemechek in first with 204 points and Rhodes in second with 157 points.
Sheldon Creed (154 points) and Matt Crafton (145) have put together a solid season in regards to points, holding on to third and fourth, respectively. Creed is just three points behind Rhodes, while Crafton holds a 23-point lead over fifth-place Stewart Friesen (122).
Of note, all three of those drivers have found success on dirt – with Creed having and ARCA Menards Series West win on the Las Vegas dirt and Crafton and Friesen both having golden shovels from Eldora.
Austin Hill (115), Johnny Sauter (103), Zane Smith (99), Carson Hocevar (93) and Chandler Smith (92) currently round out the 10 Playoff positions based on points. (Grant Enfinger is ninth in overall points, but is not eligible for the Playoffs after missing the Daytona Road Course race.)
Hocevar takes over Sunoco Rookie of the Year lead
By the most narrow of margins, Carson Hocevar took over the lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings following Atlanta. After trailing by 22 points heading out of Las Vegas, a 12th-place finish at Atlanta vaulted Hocevar to a one-point lead over Chandler Smith. Smith finished 35th at Atlanta.
Chase Purdy (third) and Hailie Deegan (fourth) are just a point away from each other, as well, following Atlanta. Deegan finished 21st at Atlanta while Purdy was 24th.
This weekend will provide for a fun challenge that may favor Deegan in the standings, who has a win in the ARCA Menards Series West on the dirt at Las Vegas.
|Sunoco Rookie of the Year|
— NASCAR —