Dirt races at Bristol will have heat races and practice sessions

NASCAR’s return to the dirt will feature heat races and practice sessions.

The series will race on dirt for the first time since 1970 when it heads to Bristol Motor Speedway late in March. The track announced Wednesday that on Saturday March 27, both the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will hold four, 15-lap heat races to set the lineup for their respective races.

Both series will hold practice sessions the day before. All sessions and races will allow a limited number of fans to attend. The .533 Bristol oval has been turned to dirt and will also hold the Bristol Dirt Nationals for sprint cars the week prior to NASCAR’s visit.

The track said the qualifying heat races for Sunday’s Cup Series race will be held at 6, 6:15, 6:30 and 6:45 p.m. ET. The heat races for Saturday’s truck race will be held at 4:30, 4:45, 5 and 5:15 p.m. ET. The Truck race is scheduled for later Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

Sunday’s Cup race will be 250 laps with Stages of 75 laps and 150 laps.

NASCAR will announce more details on the format at a later date.

When NASCAR announced its 2021 schedule, Bristol was one of the few tracks that will hold practice and qualifying sessions. The others include the new road course races at Road America, and COTA, along with Nashville and the Coke 600, the road course race at Indy and at the oval at Phoenix will all have practice and qualifying. The rest of the events will be single day races with the lineups set based on the results from the week prior. One day shows became the norm in 2020 when the sport returned to racing after being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Greg Engle