Competitors expressed concerns about tire wear on the dirt surface at Bristol Motor Speedway ahead of Sunday’s Food City Dirt Race there, the first dirt race for the NASCAR Cup Series since 1970. As a result, NASCAR made changes that included stage lengths and tire allotment.
“We’re seeing a lot of tires getting corded pretty quickly, especially right-rears, even right-fronts started to go pretty quick, so that’s something that’s gonna come into play is saving your tires when the track is probably gonna be like this come race time,” Ryan Blaney, the fastest driver in the last of two practice sessions, said Friday.
Originally teams were allotted five sets of tires across the 250-lap race and a 15-lap qualifying heat race Saturday. That allotment has been increased to six sets, and opportunities to change tires have been added. The race orginally was scheduled as a 250-lap race, divided into two 75-lp stages and a 100-lap stage. The race remains at 250 total laps, but the first two stages each have been lengthened to 100 laps, leaving a 50-lap third stage. The newly-created 100-lap first and second stages each will be divided into two segments with the addition of competition cautions on lap 50 and lap 150.
Utilizing a dirt-type format unusual to NASCAR, Sunday’s race will not include competitive pit stops. Instead, teams will only be allowed to change tires and add fuel during the scheduled cautions. Teams will have three minutes to make pit stops and will not lose positions on pit road.