The first six races of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season have produced six different winners. It’s just liable to be seven after Sunday’s 250-lapper around dirt-covered Bristol Motor Speedway. Drivers who have a good deal of experience on dirt tracks and now see a golden opportunity to go to Victory Lane and join the list of this year’s winners include Austin Dillon, Chase Briscoe, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Matt DiBenedetto. In the case of Briscoe and DiBenedetto, a breakthrough at Bristol would also mean their first ever triumph in NASCAR’s No. 1 division.
So will the 4 to 10 feet of dirt poured in various places around the popular .533-mile track often known as Thunder Valley prove to be a great equalizer and give drivers who wouldn’t typically run up front a fighting chance? Briscoe—this year’s only full-time Cup newcomer—hopes so.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to go run good, just from an experience standpoint,” said Briscoe, who cut his teeth racing quarter midgets, mini sprints and sprint cars on the dirt tracks of Southern Indiana, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. “I’ll be one of the guys in the field that probably has more dirt experience than a lot of them, so this is really gonna be the only week maybe outside of the Indy road course all year long where I actually have experience where the Cup field doesn’t. Being able to hopefully use that advantage could be a huge boost to our team.”