What to Watch: 2022 Bristol Dirt Race

·8 min read

Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway
(⏰ 7 p.m. ET | 📺 FOX | 📻 PRN, SiriusXM)

Everything you need to know for NASCAR’s second-ever Cup Series dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the ninth regular-season event of the 2022 campaign.

NASCAR Bristol Dirt Race Information 📝

Where: Bristol, Tennessee
Approximate start time: 7 p.m. ET | Weekend schedule
TV/Radio: FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio | Full TV schedule
Forecast: Mostly sunny, with a high near 64 degrees, according to NOAA.gov | Weather tracker
Race distance: 250 laps | 125.5 miles
Stages: 75 | 150 | 250
Pit-road speed: 30 mph
Caution car speed: 35 mph
The purse: $7,374,089
Bristol dirt 101: Get the full lowdown
Qualifying format: How the heat races, lineup was formed
Qualifying results: Cole Custer wins his first pole
Friday’s practice: Reddick, Hamlin lead sessions

Key things to watch 🔑

Big story line: How will the Cup Series’ second-ever Bristol Dirt Race pan out? Will we see a strong showing from the drivers with tons of dirt experience? Or will the underdogs, essentially the rest of the field, come out on top … again? Entering the 2021 dirt race, all eyes were on the usual aces who were expected to show the other drivers how it was done. Though they had a few strong runs throughout the race, most of the top dirt dogs faded (though Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished runner-up) and Joey Logano rose to the occasion. With a more durable car, better weather and a year’s worth of extra preparation, it will be interesting to see which drivers can master the rhythm early. If we’ve learned anything about the Next Gen era to this point, it’s that we know how unpredictable every race can be. Expect to see the same on Sunday. Don’t sleep on the sleepers. | Larson, Byron prepare for Bristol with local-track run | Stenhouse positive about momentum this month

Who’s hot? Who’s not? It seems like every week we are waiting on Ryan Blaney to come across the finish line first, earning his first win of 2022. Blaney has led laps in all eight races this season, has three straight finishes of seventh or better and is only three points away from the top spot in the Cup Series standings. And on top of the in-race success, he’s already matched his career-best tally of three poles in a single season. Despite being winless, he is on pace to shatter many of his other personal records. The No. 12 team has things figured out early, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it up front again at the wild-card Bristol Dirt Race. Looking across the aisle, reigning champion Kyle Larson and the No. 5 team have struggled since his home-state win at Auto Club Speedway. They uncharacteristically have finished outside of the top 28 in half the races so far. No better time for Larson and company to get back in rhythm on the surface where the dirt ace is arguably most comfortable. After a disappointing run a season ago, expect him to crank it up a level and turn his title-defense season around on Sunday.

Driving under the radar: A common theme, still very underrated, is Austin Dillon’s impressive form so far. Entering Bristol, he has three consecutive finishes inside the top 10 and seems to be peaking after a slight rollercoaster start to the season. He nearly came out with a win at Martinsville Speedway and is quietly emerging as a serious playoff contender after narrowly missing out a season ago. It’s hard to think that the iconic No. 3 machine could ever fly under the radar, so keep an eye out for Dillon in the coming weeks. And don’t be surprised if you continue to see him near the front of the field. | Dillon climbing the series standings

Race-day staples ✅

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.

• Paint Scheme Preview: Shiny schemes set to get covered in dirt | See the schemes
• Power Rankings: Will a rising Joey Logano double down on Bristol? | Updated driver rankings
• Fantasy Fastlane:
Leaning on dirt-track veterans for Sunday’s race | Top plays, sleepers
• NASCAR betting:
Odds for second-ever Bristol Dirt Race | BetMGM odds

Catch the pack 💨

Read up on the top headlines from the week leading up to Sunday’s race.

Getty Images
Getty Images

• Learn a lot: Day-by-day format for Bristol Dirt Race weekend | Read more
• Penalties:
Ty Gibbs fined; Scott Miller goes in-depth on RFK Racing’s fine, suspensions | $15K fine for Gibbs | Miller explains
• New car, new changes:
Digging into what’s new for the Next Gen car at Bristol | Technical analysis
• Focused forward:
Stenhouse hopes this is his month ahead of Bristol Dirt Race | Read more
• Seat time:
Chase Elliott to run Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol | See who he’s driving for
• Diving into dirt:
Byron steps out of comfort zone, enjoys Larson’s late model event | Full story
• In this together:
NASCAR and Sportradar announce multi-year integrity partnership | More details
• Honoring the military:
Hamlin, Charlotte Motor Speedway kick off 2022 Mission 600 | Read more
• Nod to boss:
Josh Berry reveals Dale Jr.-themed throwback for Darlington |See Berry’s scheme | Other Darlington schemes
• Growing the sport: Jennerstown Speedway becomes NASCAR-sanctioned track | Read more
• Have a seat:
NASCAR partners with racing and gaming seat innovator Playseat® | Partnership details
• Diversity:
Japanese driver Akinori Ogata fulfills dream of winning in United States, keeps eye on NASCAR Cup Series | Full story

Get in on the action 💰

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy.

• BetMGM: Larson, Bell top oddsmakers boards after 2021 disappointment | Betting analysis
• Play it LIVE:
Full guide to 2022 NASCAR Fantasy Live game | Get the FAQ
• Backseat Bets:
Can Bowman beat Byron in Bristol head-to-head? | Listen to the debate
• The Action Network:
Best top-1o bet for Bristol | See who the experts chose
• Weekly props:
Will the dirt-track regulars reign supreme on Sunday? | Make your picks
• Going all the way:
NASCAR betting: 2022 Cup Series championship odds | See them here

Bristol Dirt Race, Part 2 ✌️

We’re back at Bristol Motor Speedway, the famed “Last Great Colosseum,” so check out some relevant history and results from last year’s inaugural race.

RacingOne
RacingOne

• The return: Cup Series ready for return to Bristol Motor Speedway | Read more
• Pace out front:
Top 10 lap leaders at Bristol Motor Speedway | Who has led the most?
• Hoppin’ into history:
Record of NASCAR races held on Easter | View the gallery
• All-time wins:
Bristol Motor Speedway spring race | See the full list
• Do you remember?:
Memorable moments at Bristol | Pick a favorite
• Built on dirt:
Photographic memories of NASCAR’s history on dirt | Scroll through the gallery
• Dare to be different:
History of Cup Series racing at unique tracks | Learn more
• Last year:
Joey Logano rallies to inaugural Bristol Dirt Race win | 2021 recap, highlights

Fast facts ⏩

Hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.

There have been 490 Cup races held on dirt, but a 50-year break between dirt events in the Cup series from 1970 to 2021.
Through eight races in 2022, there have been seven different winners. William Byron is the only repeat winner.
Lee Petty holds the record for the most dirt wins — 42 of his 54 series wins came on the surface type.
Hendrick Motorsports is just one top-10 finish away from 2,000 in Cup history.
• Ryan Blaney is the first driver since Tony Stewart in 2006 to lead in each of the first eight races of a season.

Say what? 🎙

Notable quotes from the stars of the sport heading into Sunday’s race.

Joey Logano
Joey Logano

“I‘m looking forward to trying it out again. With a little better weather conditions from what we faced last year and changing from day to night for the race, I think it‘s going to be a better event overall. It will be good to get those two practice sessions on Friday and be able to work on the car a little bit. Between the new car and the changes they made to the track, it‘s going to be completely different than what we saw last year.” — Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

“I don‘t think it‘s a dirt experiment anymore. We already did it once. That was an experiment last year and I think most people liked it. I say this about our sport all the time, there are people that love short-track racing. There are people that love superspeedways and hate short-track racing. There are people that love mile-and-a-half racing. We get to do it all and some weeks you‘re gonna see your favorite track and some weeks you‘re gonna see something completely different. The fact that NASCAR is going to different things. We just ran the Clash. I thought that was crazy, but it was actually pretty good and really big for our sport. What‘s next? We can race anywhere. We‘ve proven we can put on a great race and an entertaining race for the fans, and a competitive race for the competitors out there. I don‘t care where we go. Let‘s do it.” — Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford.

“We weren‘t the fastest in practice at the dirt race at Bristol last year, but I was really happy with our No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet. I felt like it did everything it needed to do to be fast in the race and it showed when it came down to crunch time. We had a shot at winning. We were running down the No. 22 (Joey Logano) for the lead when the checkered came out. I feel really good about my guys and our team. We know what we need in our race car and I‘m looking forward to getting to Bristol and getting back on the dirt. I don‘t race as much dirt as (Kyle) Larson or (Christopher) Bell do on a weekly basis, but I did grow up doing just as much as they did. I enjoy racing dirt. It‘s a challenge and it‘s something different. It kind of shakes things up for the Cup Series.” — Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet