Who in Cup has had past Dirt experience, a deeper look

When you start to think about drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series that have cut their teeth on the dirt tracks across this country, a few names like Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe jump to the forefront, but what might be surprising is several drivers have dabbled in dirt over the years and this weekend could be the opportunity they were looking for to showcase their skills and get to Victory Lane.

Six of the seven winners from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Eldora Speedway are entered this weekend – Austin Dillon (2013), Bubba Wallace (2014), Christopher Bell (2015), Kyle Larson (2016), Chase Briscoe (2018) and making his NASCAR Cup Series debut this weekend, Stewart Friesen (2019). Matt Crafton won the Eldora race in 2017 but is not entered in the Cup race on Sunday.

In total, 17 drivers entered in this weekend’s Food City Dirt Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track have competed on the dirt at Eldora Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series from 2013-2019.

Cup Drivers Average Finish at Eldora Speedway
Rank Active Drivers Avg. Finish Starts
1 Chase Briscoe 3.667 3
2 Bubba Wallace 4.000 2
3 Christopher Bell 4.000 3
4 Austin Dillon 5.667 3
5 Tyler Reddick 6.333 3
6 Stewart Friesen 8.500 4
7 Ryan Blaney 9.000 2
8 Kyle Larson 9.667 3
9 Ty Dillon 10.800 5
10 Ross Chastain 12.000 1
11 William Byron 14.000 1
12 Chris Windom 16.500 2
13 Erik Jones 16.500 2
14 Ryan Newman 16.500 2
15 Cole Custer 17.500 2
16 JJ Yeley 21.000 1
17 Brad Keselowski 28.000 1

One driver that shined every time he got behind the wheel on dirt at Eldora was Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe. Not only does the 2021 Sunoco rookie candidate have a win at the track (2018), but he also leads all the active Cup drivers with previous starts at Eldora in average finish with a 3.667 in three starts.

Dirt racing is in Chase Briscoe’s blood. His grandfather, Richard Briscoe, was a sprint car owner, builder and crew chief who fielded cars for legendary drivers such as Chuck Amati, Dave Blaney (the Buckeye Bullet), Dick Gaines, Jack Hewitt, Steve Kinser and Rich Vogler. Plus, Briscoe’s father, Kevin Briscoe, raced sprint cars for more than 20 years and won more than 150 feature events. He claimed track championships at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana, and Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway five times, including one streak of three consecutive.

Briscoe began racing sprint cars full-time in 2008, and he won the final race of the season at Paragon Speedway, his first win in a 410-sprint car. The victory was record breaking, at 13 years old, Briscoe became the youngest driver to win in a 410-sprint car, supplanting the previous record holder NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon (Gordon was 14). From there, Briscoe moved on to wing and non-winged mini sprint divisions in 2016 and won at the Tulsa Shootout in both. Since 2015, he has regularly competed at the Chili Bowl Nationals.

Some other new faces to keep an eye on this weekend are Spire Motorsport’s Stewart Friesen, Rick Ware Racing’s Chris Windom and Live Fast Motorsport’s Shane Golobic, all of which mastered their driving talents on dirt.

Stewart Friesen will be piloting the No. 77 Spore Motorsports Chevrolet in his series debut this weekend. Friesen is the most recent winner at Eldora in the Camping World Truck Series (2019). Friesen, a native of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, is a decorated stand out of Dirt Modifieds and Sprint Cars with over 330 victories in his dirt racing career stretching back to 1999. Friesen won the Short Track Super Series North and South Championships in 2020.

Shane Golobic, a Fremont, California native, is an accomplished winged/non-winged sprint car and midget racer. Golobic, 25, is a talented young driver with ability to adapt to various racing surfaces and cars. He has made three ARCA Menards Series West starts posting two top-10 finishes. Golobic is also a World of Outlaw Feature winner, USAC National Midget Feature Winner, 2016 Trophy Cup Champion, 2014 Civil War Series Champion, 2012 and 2014 Ocean Speedway Champion, 2009 Calistoga Speedway Champion and has claimed over 45 career feature wins. Golobic will pilot the No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford this weekend.

Chris Windom, a Canton, Illinois native, was the seventh driver to complete a United States Auto Club (USAC) Triple Crown by winning titles in sprint cars, midget cars, and Silver Crown.

Windom won the 2017 USAC National Sprint Car Championship, the 2016 USAC Silver Crown Championship, and the 2020 National Midget Car championship. He is also a two-time Indiana Sprint Week (2011, 2018) & Eastern Storm (2017, 2018) champion, and a two-time winner of the Little 500 (2011, 2015). Windom has also made seven career starts in the ARCA Menards Series between 2011-2015 posting two top fives and five top 10s. He has also made five career starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series including two starts at Eldora Speedway where he posted a best finish of 14th.

Not since the checkered flag flew on NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty for winning the race on September 30, 1970 at North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, North Carolina has the NASCAR Cup Series has even competed on a dirt track. Now more than 50 years later, the series is getting back to its roots in this weekend’s Food City Dirt Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) as more than 20,000 cubic yards of dirt were hauled in to create the temporary dirt track surface.

The NASCAR Cup Series has had a long legacy of racing at dirt tracks prior to the Modern Era (1972-Present), from 1949 to 1970 the series competed in 501 races on dirt. The very first NASCAR Cup Series points-paying sanctioned race in the inaugural season of 1949 was on dirt at Charlotte (Old) Speedway, a 0.75-mile track in Charlotte, North Carolina and the event was won by Jim Roper driving a Lincoln.

Top 10 Cup Winners On Dirt
Rank Cup Dirt Winners Wins
1 Lee Petty 43
2 Buck Baker 42
3 Herb Thomas 41
4 Tim Flock 36
5 Ned Jarrett 35
6 Richard Petty 31
7 David Pearson 23
8 Junior Johnson 23
9 Speedy Thompson 18
10 Fireball Roberts 15
Fonty Flock 15

In total, the 501 dirt Cup races have produced 76 different winners. NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty leads the series in dirt track wins with 46 victories; followed by Buck Baker with 42 and Herb Thomas with 41.

This week the competitors will be tasked with wrangling a Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track that has been measured to exactly 0.5-mile, and this weekend’s event will be 125 miles (250 laps) in length. The race will be broken up into three stages. The first two stages are 75 laps each and the final stage is 100 laps.

Plus, NASCAR has instituted a special format for Busch Pole Qualifying that includes qualifying races, very similar to what the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series did at Eldora Speedway, to decide the starting lineup. The lineups for the qualifying races will be done by random draw on Thursday, March 25 at 4 p.m. ET. There are four qualifying races scheduled with 39 entrants competing. The first three qualifying races will have 10 drivers each and the fourth qualifying race will have nine drivers entered.

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