Dirt racing will return to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2022

Monday’s first dirt race in the NASCAR Cup Series in more the 50 years wasn’t over yet when news arrived there would be another.

Late during the rain-delayed race, Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway issued a news release and the track’s executive vice president and general manager, Jerry Caldwell, announced over the public address system that the track’s spring Cup weekend in 2022 would once again feature dirt racing.

“There has been so much buzz and excitement around the inaugural Food City Dirt Race weekend that with NASCAR’s blessing, we are thrilled to announce that we will be bringing back dirt in 2022 as part of the NASCAR Cup Series spring schedule,” Caldwell said in a statement.

“The dirt experience is unlike any other for NASCAR fans and could become a ‘must-see’ event every season.”

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While rain marred much of the weekend, the Truck and Cup races themselves – which were both held on Monday – were generally considered a success.

Bristol had sold out of tickets for both races under current socially-distance guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer, felt the series and track were able to pull off a successful event despite the weather pitfalls.

“We certainly learned a lot of things throughout the week that we can apply as we go forward in 2022. All in all, I would give it a ‘thumbs up’ with things to learn. The fans had asked us for years to look for innovation around the schedule and, in fact, we’ve been taken to task for not making some moves and we’ve been bold and aggressive this year,” he said.

“We never go into something thinking it’s going to be a ‘one-off’. Our hope was this would be a success and something we could repeat and become a staple of the schedule going forward.

“We fully intend to be back in 2022 and beyond and put on some great racing.”

O’Donnell said it was too soon to know whether the weekend would feature Cup and Trucks like this year or if additional series would be added to the weekend’s lineup next year.

Logano, the winner of Monday’s race, said he was looking forward to returning to Bristol to run the event again next year.

“When they announced this race, I thought it was going to be a sellout. I do think it will be a sellout once we're able to have full capacity back at these race tracks,” Logano said. “This is a crazy show. Being able to look at Bristol with dirt on it, everyone wants to see that in person.

“Kudos to Bristol, Marcus Smith, those guys, to really come together and put on an event. That’s what it is, it’s an event. It’s a crazy, amazing event that they’re able to put on. They should be proud of themselves.

“This is a big risk, really big risk, that I know not many teams were behind. It worked out well, so congratulations.”

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