Distance wise, the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway was the shortest the NASCAR Cup Series had seen in nearly three decades.
Following a rain postponement, the first NASCAR Cup Series dirt race in over five decades was contested one week ago today at Bristol Motor Speedway, and with this past weekend having been an off weekend to celebrate Easter, fans are still talking about what we saw in that historic event seven days ago.
It was Team Penske’s Joey Logano who held off late charges from both JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin to take the checkered flag.
Logano became the first first-time dirt race winner since 1968 and the first dirt race winner of any kind in the Cup Series since 1970.
The driver of the #22 Ford also became the seventh driver to win one of the 2021 season’s first seven races, something that hadn’t happened in a season since 2014.
But in addition to being the first Cup Series race on dirt in more than 50 years, this race was also the shortest Cup Series race in nearly three decades from a distance perspective.
The race still lasted for two hours, 43 minutes and 53 seconds, which is right around what you’d expect for a Cup Series event, but it was extended as a result of the planned stoppages during the stage breaks. During these stage breaks, the running order was frozen and the race was effectively neutralized as teams worked on the cars in the pits.
This race was actually extended by three laps as a result of a late caution flag period which sent it into overtime, and it ended up being a 253-lap race around the four-turn, 0.533-mile (0.858-kilometer) high-banked oval in Bristol, Tennessee, making it a 134.849-mile race.
Had it been a 250-lap race as initially planned, it would have been only a 133.25-mile event, which still would have been the shortest Cup Series race in nearly three decades. It became the first race to go into overtime in the 2021 season.
But from a distance perspective, the Cup Series hadn’t seen a race that short since the 1992 season, and that was only as a result of a rain stoppage. The August event at Watkins Glen International was shortened by 39 laps as a result of rain that year.
So instead of this race being a 90-lap race around the eight-turn, 2.450-mile (3.943-kilometer) road course in Watkins Glen, New York, it ended up being a 51-lap race, making it just a 124.95-mile event as opposed to a 220.5-mile event. Kyle Petty won that race.
The most recent Cup Series race on dirt prior to last Monday had been contested at North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, North Carolina, a 0.5-mile (0.805-kilometer) oval.
This race was a 200-lap (100-mile) event, which was about average for Cup Series dirt races during that era. It lasted for one hour, 27 minutes and 45 seconds and was won by Richard Petty.
The Cup Series race on dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway hasn’t officially been scheduled yet for next year, but it has been confirmed that the race is slated to be on the calendar once again in the spring of 2022.