It’s dirt, baby!
(Bristol Motor Speedway)
That’s the slogan for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway next March that will see the half-mile oval converted into a dirt track in one of several shakeups coming to the 2021 schedule.
Bristol covered its concrete in clay for World of Outlaws and support races in 2000 and 2001, but never for NASCAR’s top series.
The race will be the first Cup Series race held on dirt since Richard Petty won the 1970 Home State 200 at the State Fairground Speedway in Raleigh, N.C.
Bristol will also hold a playoff race on pavement on Sept. 18.
In other moves, NASCAR has dropped Chicagoland and Kentucky from the schedule, while adding the Road America and Circuit of the Americas courses in Wisconsin and Texas. It’s also ending the Brickyard 400 after 27 races and switching to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield road course for a doubleheader weekend with the Indycar series on Aug. 15.
Nashville Superspeedway’s first-ever Cup Series race is scheduled for June 20 and Atlanta and Darlington will have two weekends each, the latter kicking off the playoffs with the Southern 500 on Sept. 5.
Michigan is losing one race and so is Texas Motor Speedway, which will host a playoff event on Oct. 17, but is taking over the All-Star race from Charlotte on June 13.
The NASCAR season will observe a two-week break during the Tokyo Olympic Games spanning the weekends of Aug. 1 and Aug. 8.
All of the races will be held on the weekend because of disappointing TV ratings for the mid-week races that took place this year, the Associated Press reported.
Here’s a look at the full tentative 2021 schedule, which includes several other race date changes:
Feb. 14 – Daytona 500
Feb. 21 – Homestead-Miami Speedway
Feb. 28 – Auto Club Speedway
March 7 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 14 – Phoenix Raceway
March 21 – Atlanta Motor Speedway
March 28 – Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Layout
April 10 – Martinsville Speedway
April 18 – Richmond Raceway
April 25 – Talladega Superspeedway
May 2 – Kansas Speedway
May 9 – Darlington Raceway
May 16 – Dover International Speedway
May 23 – Circuit of the Americas
May 30 – Charlotte Motor Speedway
June 6 – Sonoma Raceway
June 13 – All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway
June 20 – Nashville Superspeedway
June 26-27 – Pocono Raceway doubleheader
July 4 – Road America
July 11 – Atlanta Motor Speedway
July 18 – New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Aug. 8 – Watkins Glen International
Aug. 15 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
Aug. 22 – Michigan International Speedway
Aug. 28 – Daytona International Speedway
Sept. 5 – Darlington Raceway
Sept. 11 – Richmond Raceway
Sept. 18 – Bristol Motor Speedway
Sept. 26 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Oct. 3 – Talladega Superspeedway
Oct. 10 – Charlotte Roval
Oct. 17 – Texas Motor Speedway
Oct. 24 – Kansas Speedway
Oct. 31 – Martinsville Speedway
Nov. 7 – Phoenix Raceway