Bristol Dirt Format: NASCAR stages, pit stops, lineups

NASCAR has detailed the format for the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR is heading to the dirt track on March 27-28, 2021. Bristol Motor Speedway will host the NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Truck Series in a double-header weekend.

This event marks the first NASCAR Cup Series race on the dirt since 1970. The trucks have been racing on dirt since 2013, however this will be their first go at Bristol.

Related: Bristol Dirt Schedule for all four events

The track remains a .533-mile oval. The banking has been trimmed to 19 degrees.

NASCAR had previously announced that heat races would be used in the format of the events. There will be no qualifying laps.

“Well, I think it’s special rules for obviously quite a different event than we’ve ever done in the Cup Series, but we really wanted to just kind of take a page out of the dirt-track racing playbook,” Scott Miller said.

“They do and use these type of procedures to set the field for their main events, so we thought it would be something different for us and interesting to implement for this one.”

Related: The Bristol Dirt Race was put to a vote; The alternatives were too expensive, forcing a NASCAR dirt track

Bristol Dirt Format
Starting Lineup

Now, NASCAR has released more details…

-Each series will have four qualifying heats of 15 laps each. Heat field size will depend upon the size of the overall entry list. So, if there are 44 cars, there will be 11 cars in each heat race. Only green-flag laps will count. No overtime rule will be in effect, but free-pass and wave-around procedures will remain.

-Qualifying heat assignments and starting positions will be determined by a random draw, conducted in order of current team owner points standings.

-The starting lineup will be determined by a formula that weighs finishing position plus positions gained during each heat. Drivers finishing first in their heats earn 10 points, second place earns nine, third place earns eight and so forth. Additionally, drivers earn one passing point for each position gained in their heat; there are no points deductions or “negative points” for drivers who lose positions in their heats. Also, these points are merely used to calculate the starting lineup and do not count toward the championship standings.

-Ties in these combined points totals will be broken by current team owner points.

Related: Austin Dillon, Corey LaJoie to run dirt late models on Bristol Dirt Track

Bristol Motor Speedway - TN Dirt Track
Bristol Motor Speedway – TN Dirt Track

Bristol Dirt Track
Pit Stop Rules

-Teams will not be permitted to change tires, add fuel or work on their vehicles except during the breaks between stages. Exceptions will be made for vehicles involved in incidents.

-Teams are not required to pit during stage breaks. Those that elect to stay on the track during stage intermissions will line up ahead of the cars/trucks that pit on the ensuing restart. There will be no race onto or off pit road, using a controlled pit-stop procedure similar to the previous format in Eldora events.

“If we had green-flag stops or changed tires under yellow, that would get us to a competitive pit road. With dirt tires, dirt on concrete, who knows what the traction’s going to be like,” NASCAR’s Scott Miller explianed.

He added, “Having pit crews running around out there under those circumstances, running around in a not-clean pit box, we just felt was not something that we were going to do, and it would potentially create an unsafe environment, so we had to take the actual competitive element out of the pit stops for predominantly safety reasons.”

Related: Bristol Dirt Track – Cars on track for first practice (Video)

Bristol Dirt
Choose Rule

NASCAR has a new rule that allows drivers to pick the inside or outside lane after pit stops. This prevents stackups at the end of the pit lane from drivers purposefully letting a car exit before them, so they start in a desired line.

That choose cone will not be in place for the Bristol Dirt Track. The rule also isn’t used at Superspeedway races on Daytona or Talladega.

Part of the issue involves maintaining the painted V on the dirt surface.

Miller said, “The start-finish line and the choose V were something we were going to have to work around, and we didn’t want to commit to something we were going to have trouble executing. We don’t like to do that, so we just kind of took the safe route and went back to no choose rule for this event.”

Related: Kyle Busch to run Bristol Dirt Nationals as Jonathan Davenport’s teammate

Bristol Dirt

-Stages for Sunday’s Cup Series main will end at Lap 75, Lap 150, with 250 laps the scheduled full distance. Stage endings for Saturday’s Truck Series feature are set for Lap 40, Lap 90 and Lap 150. None of the stage lengths are scheduled longer than a full fuel run for either series.

-Each series will hold two 50-minute practice sessions on Friday, March 26. Qualifying heats for both series are scheduled Saturday, March 27.

Only 8 races in 2021 will feature practice and/or qualifying. The Bristol Dirt Track was always going to be one of those races.

“Some of the drivers, obviously we have a few drivers with a lot of dirt experience. This is obviously going to be a different type of vehicle than your typical dirt-track race car, so that will be different,” Scott Miller stated.

He concluded, “Some of the guys have been out running different stuff to get some experience on dirt that were brought up on asphalt, but it’s one of those things where there was no way that we could not have practice. I’m not sure how many yellow flags we’re going to have as it is, but if we wouldn’t have had practice, we probably would have had double the amount.”

May NASCAR Cup Series driver will get some much needed track time the week before the race. These drivers are set to run the Bristol Dirt Nationals.

NCS – Bristol Dirt Nationals: Kyle Larson (Late Model), Kyle Busch (Late Model), Joey Logano (Modified), Austin Dillon (Crate Late Model) and Corey LaJoie (Crate Late Model).

Related: Kyle Larson talks the Bristol Dirt race; Driver set to run $50,000 dirt late model show ahead of NASCAR race


Bristol Motor Speedway | Bristol Dirt Nationals | NASCAR