Bristol Motor Speedway has announced that both of its 2024 NASCAR Cup Series races will be held on the track's typical concrete surface, meaning that a three-year experiment with a temporary dirt track built over the circuit is at an end. While a full 2024 schedule still has not been announced, the decision means that NASCAR's top series is once again expected to go without a dirt race in 2024.
NASCAR's national-level series had not run on dirt for generations until the early 2010s, taking a break from loose surfaces from 1970 until a Truck Series race at Eldora in 2013. That event eventually ended in 2019, but it succeeded as a proof-of-concept and led to the announcement of a Cup Series race at Bristol on a temporary dirt surface starting in 2021. That initial race weekend was marred by major track drying and prep issues, leading to a mess of a delayed race. The event continued for two more years anyway, highlighted by a 2022 Cup Series race that saw the leading two cars wrecking in the final corner of the final lap.
While each race weekend had its set of issues, most came down to either the temporary nature of the track surface or the strange choices the series made in designing a rule set around the different needs of a dirt race. A more thought-out event on a permanent dirt track, like the old Truck Series race at Eldora or the event held at Knoxville Raceway by that same series in 2021 and 2022, could be more sustainable.
Now, that experiment is at an end. Bristol's Spring date, the one that had been held with the temporary dirt surface, will officially return to the more proven concrete underneath going forward. With Jeff Gluck of the Athletic reporting no expectation that another dirt race joins the schedule in 2024, NASCAR's top series will be back to a pavement-only championship after a three-year test. Last time the series left dirt, it stayed away for 51 years. Hopefully, leadership can find a way to figure it out more quickly this time.
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