This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.
For something completely different, NASCAR is throwing everyone a curveball this week with the first Cup Series race of the modern era on dirt at the Bristol Motor Speedway. The sanctioning body in combination with the speedway conceived this idea late in 2020. The idea was to bring in truck loads of clay and dirt and convert the historic half-mile oval into a dirt track. Normally, we would race 500 laps on the asphalt high banks of Bristol. However, for this event NASCAR has shorted the distance to just 250 laps. A race in this oval on dirt is uncharted waters of sorts, so the sanctioning body has shorted the length of the race accordingly. We will still go stage racing on the dirt surface. The 250-lap main event will be divided into stages of 75/75/100 laps.
There will also be practices and qualifying this week, breaking with the recent trend of no practice and qualifying. This unique event on this surface demanded some practice and qualifying laps, so NASCAR obliged to help the drivers and teams. There will be two practice sessions on Friday to help get drivers accustomed to the unique surface at Bristol. Additionally, there will be four qualifying heat races of 15 laps each on Saturday that will set the grid for Sunday's main feature event. Drivers will accumulate passing points in the qualifying races, and that will be the basis for determining the starting grid of the main feature race.
Since this is a one-of-a-kind unique race, we'll