NASCAR’s history on Easter weekend, details with a look at the top drivers of all-time on dirt

This weekend’s Food City Dirt Race (Sunday, April 9 at 7 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be the NASCAR Cup Series’ 12th-time racing on Easter Sunday since its inception in 1949.

Prior to last season, the last time the series competed on Easter Sunday was March 26, 1989 at Richmond Raceway – the race was rescheduled to the Easter Sunday date after being snowed out from its original date in February. The race was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace.

On two other occasions – in 1953 at Charlotte Speedway and 1954 at Orange Speedway in Hillsboro – the race was held on Easter Sunday as a make-up date due to rain.

NASCAR Cup Series Races held on Easter Sunday

DateTrack – Race WinnerReason for Scheduling on Easter
Sunday, April 5, 1953Charlotte Speedway – Dick PasswaterScheduled for March 22, 1953; Postponed due to rain.
Sunday, April 18, 1954Hillsboro – Herb ThomasScheduled for April 11, 1954; Postponed due to rain.
Sunday, April 17, 1960Wilson Speedway – Joe WeatherlyScheduled Date
Sunday, April 2, 1961Hillsboro – Cotton OwensScheduled Date
Sunday, April 22, 1962Martinsville – Richard PettyScheduled Date
Sunday, April 14, 1963South Boston – Richard PettyScheduled Date
Sunday, April 18, 1965North Wilkesboro – Jr. JohnsonScheduled Date
Sunday, April 6, 1969Hickory – Bobby IsaacScheduled Date
Sunday, March 29, 1970Atlanta – Bobby AllisonScheduled Date
Sunday, March 26, 1989Richmond – Rusty WallaceScheduled for February 27, 1989; Postponed due to snow.
Sunday, April 17, 2022Bristol Dirt – Kyle BuschScheduled Date

In addition, 21 NASCAR Cup Series events have been held on Easter Weekend from Good Friday through Easter Monday (Easter Monday was a public holiday in North Carolina from 1935 to 1987).

The first time NASCAR held a Cup race on Easter Weekend was on April 12, 1952, when the event at Columbia Speedway was held on Saturday. NASCAR Hall of Famer Buck Baker was the race winner.

On Easter weekends in 1964, 1966, & 1967 the NASCAR Cup Series held races on Saturday at Greenville Pickens Speedway and on Monday at Bowman Gray Stadium.

The race held on Easter weekend, Saturday, April 11, 1971, was the first in NASCAR Cup Series history to be broadcast live from start to finish on national television on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

Looking back at the NASCAR Cup Series on dirt

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.

Including this past season’s dirt race at Bristol, the 503 all-time dirt Cup races have produced 78 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. Joey Logano (2021) and Kyle Busch (2022) are the only active drivers with a win on dirt in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Top 10 NASCAR Cup Series Winners On Dirt
RankCup Dirt WinnersWins
1Lee Petty43
2Buck Baker42
3Herb Thomas41
4Tim Flock36
5Ned Jarrett35
6Richard Petty31
7David Pearson23
8Junior Johnson23
9Speedy Thompson18
10Fireball Roberts15
Fonty Flock15

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 the 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.

In addition, NASCAR has instituted a special format for Busch Light Pole Qualifying that includes qualifying races, to decide the starting lineup. The lineups for the qualifying races will be done by random draw on Friday, April 7 at 5:30 p.m. ET. There are four qualifying races scheduled with 37 entrants competing this weekend.

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