Windshields are a sore subject ahead of the Bristol Dirt race
Kyle Larson has repeatedly called Bristol Motor Speedway his favorite track. However, the Bristol Dirt track is excluded from that list.
The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion is an avid dirt racer. He spends time on the dirt on a weekly basis. So, you would think that the Bristol Dirt race would be one of his favorites.
Yet, the Bristol Dirt Track comes with limitations as the NASCAR Cup Series and Truck Series roll to the track. Really just one, the windshield.
With the windshields, track prep comes with a set of handcuffs and limitations. Track workers aren’t able to load the track with water. Because that slime gets thrown onto the windshields, plugging them up and making looking through said windshield, impossible.
NASCAR saw this first hand in the opening laps of the first truck race last year. After only a few laps, they were forced to throw the red flag for windshield cleanup.
In a traditional dirt race, the track starts out with a ton of moisture, it’s slimy and slow. As more and more laps are turned, the track starts to dry out and pick up speed. Yet, by the end of the night, it can dry up too far and take rubber, making it a one-groove race track.
Dirt cars can handle the slime. They don’t use windshields. Instead, a series of bars are welded in to prevents pieces from flying into the cockpit. Multiple tear-offs are installed directly on their helmets. A simple pull on one tear off and drivers have a clean window again.
Kyle Larson comments on the windshields
“The way I look at it is, if we’re not going to take the windshields out, then why are we racing on dirt,” Kyle Larson stated via SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio.
“We just shouldn’t race on dirt if we’re not going to take the windshields out and actually have a dirt race. With moisture in the track and being able to produce a real dirt race.”
“I feel like we’re just wasting everybody’s time, a little bit. And, not giving the fans and competitors what we all deserve.”
“In my opinion, if we’re not going to take the windshields out, we might as well never put dirt on Bristol again. Which, I’m all for not putting dirt on Bristol, whether we have windshields or not. The racing at Bristol’s amazing, just as normal.”
NASCAR ran a test at Bristol last week with Stewart Friesen. In that test, they ran a package without the windshield. However, they have elected to keep the windshields in for this coming weekend.
Fixing the windshield issue in the future
Larson added, “If we can get through this year and if they put dirt on the track again, maybe they can get a head start on trying to design something, where we cannot have windshields. You know, weld in bars or do something.”
“Like, late models that I run. We don’t have windshields but we have massive bars that are welded in, in front of us. It’s kinda like a rock screen.”
“I mean, nothing, there’s not a spindle or heavy piece of car that’s going to come through that. It is extremely heavy duty.”
“I don’r see why we couldn’t weld in something like that. Or clamp in bars that are temporary. There’s a way to run no windshields.”
“I understand the safety side of NASCAR and why they don’t. Our race cars are really safe but you’re not going to have a true dirt race with windshields.”
Larson added, “I feel like it’s just kind of lame.”
Larson talks the Bristol Dirt changes
Kyle Larson has already been on the new Bristol Dirt track. He ran a dirt late model in the Bristol Dirt Nationals several weeks ago.
“The track was a lot smoother and the entries to the corners seemed to be a little bit more sweeping,” Larson told Bob Pockrass earlier this week.
“A lot easier to run wide open in the late model. So, I don’t know if that’s good or bad or what it means for the racing. The track needs some character, some bumps and stuff. But, natural kinda bumps.”
“The track was really close to being really good, the two nights I was there.”
NASCAR has made some changes to the NASCAR Next Gen car. The underbody is adjusted, there’s things to help with cooling and mud flaps have been installed to help prevent windshield clogging.
“Hopefully that means we can have some moisture in the track.”
“There’s not really a cushion there. There wasn’t one in the late model either. When tracks get that much banking, there’s not a cushion. You just get momentum more up there.”
“For people that don’t understand dirt and dirt racing, they till the top, it makes it look like there’s a cushion. But, it’s not really a cushion. If you get your right rear above what looks like a cushion, it would suck the drivers a little higher.”
“If you ran around the top, you had to be just below it. The first night, I was able to spin my tires up there under caution and clean it off up there.”