The NASCAR Cup Series will contest its first race on dirt since 1970 on Sunday in the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. With dirt racing such a rarity in the Cup Series, seven Cup drivers are looking to get some extra seat time through the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, also at Bristol, on Saturday. Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez, Chase Briscoe and Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. are among the 44 drivers on the entry list for Saturday’s Truck Series race.
Participants will be pared down and their starting positions determined by heat races earlier in the day Saturday.
While NASCAR’s premier series hasn’t raced on dirt for over 50 years, the Truck Series has been racing yearly on dirt, beginning with Eldora Speedway since 2013. The series didn’t race at Eldora last year, though, as a coronavirus-related shuffling of the schedule resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 race at the track. Eldora remains off the Truck Series schedule, but Saturday’s Bristol race is the first of two dirt-track races the series will contest in 2021, the other at Knoxville Raceway on July 9.
Three of the seven Cup Series drivers with Saturday Truck Series plans are past winners of the Truck Series race at Eldora. Briscoe is the most recent Eldora winner among the group, with a win there in 2018. Wallace won at Eldora in 2014 and Larson in 2016.
“I’m beyond excited to have Chase Briscoe pilot the Roper Racing Team Ford for the Bristol dirt race,” Roper Racing owner Cory Roper said. “It wasn’t a hard decision to make when Chase came to us about this opportunity. To have someone like Chase drive for our small team and represent our partners is a huge honor. I look forward to being behind the wheel in Richmond and continuing our strong start to the 2021 season.”
Roper is the regular driver of the #04 Ford he owns.
All but Truex are former Truck Series winners. But he’ll be with the series’ most recent winning team. He’s slated to drive the #51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota team owner Kyle Busch, who just happens to be one of Truex’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammates in the Cup Series, drove to victory lane a week earlier at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Truex also is the least experienced of the group when it comes to Truck Series races with only two starts under his belt, the most recent in 2006.
Harvick, meanwhile, is the most experienced Truck Series racer among the seven drivers. He has contested 123 series races, resulting in 14 wins.
“I tell all of the drivers we represent at KHI Management that nothing beats seat time, and that goes for me as well,” Harvick said. “I can learn and have some fun, all at the same time. Road-course racing and dirt-track racing is a challenge, and I’m always up for a challenge.”
PINTY’S TRUCK RACE ON DIRT PRELIMINARY ENTRY LIST