Track prep remains key to Bristol dirt show

John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

Track prep remains key to Bristol dirt show


Track prep remains key to Bristol dirt show


Bristol Motor Speedway and NASCAR officials have made changes to the dirt track preparation after the 2021 learning curve of poor visibility and single-groove racing. Changes to cars won’t be noticeable — just tweaks to the underbody to help with ground clearance and cooling — but the track changes are in plain sight.

Two of those have been night racing and progressive banking. The track now varies between 16 and 20 degrees which should give more racing lane options. Key word being: “should.”

“It depends on what the guy with the keys to the water truck and tiller do, truthfully,” said Chase Briscoe. “Hopefully, we have multiple grooves. It was fun the first five, 10 minutes of practice. They could definitely get way more aggressive and till deeper and water it more. … Overheating is not a problem and just how this dirt is versus the dirt that we have at a place like Eldora — it doesn’t clump up as much, so I think we could get a lot more water on it and till it deeper and be fine.”

Despite having dirt experience, Briscoe said he hasn’t been asked about track preparation.

Cup Series drivers have two practices Friday. The first was held under the sun and the second will end at 7:35 p.m. ET. Sunday’s race starts after 7 p.m. ET.

Visibility from the dust was an issue in the first session, just as it was in 2021. Denny Hamlin hit the wall in Turns 1 and 2 and said he couldn’t see in front of him.

Kyle Busch said there was no visibility the second half of practice.

“You put one car in front of you — you can’t see,” said Busch. “Two cars — you definitely can’t see. That’s going to be the toughest part – the dust. It looked like Truck practice went pretty well but, as the track started to widen, a couple of those guys were a little tentative doing it the right way. And then once they started doing it, it was just dust off the first truck that was running that high side burning it with the right rear.”

Tyler Reddick believes things will change from practice to the race, as it did last year, but he felt the track was holding moisture better this time around.

“The track is going to be different, but I can’t really foresee what it’s going to be like,” Reddick said of Sunday. “We kind of have to wait and see how the track is prepped. Certainly, it’s just going to take a lot longer to get to where it did at the end of our practice there when we’re racing under nighttime conditions and the sun isn’t really beating down on the racetrack.”

Briscoe felt the track was raceable at the start of Friday’s first practice session, but “pretty dusty” and hard to see by the end. While Briscoe pointed out the shining sun, he also said there could be a better job of watering the top of the track.

“When it’s that dry starting off, it’s going to be an issue,” he said. “The top has never really got a lot of water and that’s what you saw. When they first rolled out there for our practice, they very lightly tilled it and they watered and it was pretty good. We could rip around there on the top, but as we started running that top glaze off it just gets to the dust because it’s so hard and so dry underneath.

“I think they could water a ton up top. If we’re running the top, you’re just going to the fence anyway, so I think you could water it a lot more up top and that would fix a lot of the dust problem underneath, but then also put on probably a little better product from a racetrack standpoint.”

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