NASCAR knows things are about to get messy, but it’s looking to avoid cleaning up a complete disaster.
The first Cup Series dirt race since 1970 is scheduled for Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway. But after drivers had some fun whipping around in the 2,300 truckloads of red Tennessee clay that covered the track in practice sessions Friday, the sport realized they should make some rule changes.
Fortunately, NASCAR realized tires couldn’t handle the heavy wear ahead of time.
?We didn?t want to end up in a situation where we had 20 blown right rears and we?re talking about the Bristol dirt show 20 years later like we?re talking about the thing that happened at Indy,? Scott Miller, NASCAR’s vice president of competition, said via Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press.
Miller was referring to 2008, when the Goodyear tires used on NASCAR’s new car model began exploding mid-race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Caution flags had to be enforced every 10 laps or so to change out tires and avoid damage and danger, but didn’t make for a great product for fans.
Between the dust and divots created Friday in practice sessions, NASCAR collected feedback and implemented some new rules for the 250-lap race at Bristol:
— First stage extended by 25 laps
— Second stage extended by 50 laps
— Two competition cautions added
— Teams allowed one extra set of ties
NASCAR hopes these changes will work, especially given the increment weather that made Saturday a washout.
?We need this show to be great,? Miller said. ?We need to err on the side of caution.?