As the first NASCAR Cup Series dirt race in over five decades, 28 March’s Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway will unsurprisingly feature some new names with dirt track backgrounds. One of such drivers was revealed on Tuesday when Rick Ware Racing announced Chris Windom will drive the #15 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE in his maiden Cup start. NOS Energy will serve as sponsor.
“I am excited to have Chris make his début in the NASCAR Cup Series with Rick Ware Racing in the inaugural dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway,” RWR owner Rick Ware stated. “Chris is an established dirt racer, whose achievements surpass many. I’m looking forward to seeing him race, and hopefully bring home a good finish.”
Windom is one of seven drivers to complete the United States Auto Club (USAC) Triple Crown with Midget, Sprint, and Silver Crown class championships, winning the Midget title in 2020 after claiming the Silver Crown in 2016 and Sprint the following year. In January’s Chili Bowl Nationals, he won a dash race and finished sixth in the A Feature. Various drivers in the prestigious quarter midget race include current Cup racers Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Sunday’s Daytona road course winner Christopher Bell, and Chili Bowl champion Kyle Larson.
While his resume is primarily on dirt, he also has asphalt experience, competing in what is now the ARCA Menards Series from 2011 to 2013 and in 2015 with top-ten finishes in five of his seven starts. In 2019, he ran the Indy Lights race at Indianapolis.
In 2017 and 2018, Windom was hired as a dirt ringer for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series‘ races at Eldora Speedway; at the time, the event was the lone dirt race in any of NASCAR’s national series. He scored top twenties in both attempts with a best finish of fourteenth in the 2018 race for now-David Gilliland Racing. The Illinois native also ran three pavement races across the two years with a highest run of twenty-fourth at Homestead in 2018.
“I’m very excited for this unique opportunity with RWR,” Windom commented. “Not only to race in the NASCAR Cup series, but to be a part of the first time they race Bristol on dirt is really cool. Hopefully my previous dirt experience will give me a head start out of the gate. I have to thank Lauren Albano with NOS Energy Drink, Brodie Hayward, and David Byrd for helping make this possible for me.”
“We are thrilled to be part of this new opportunity with Chris Windom and Rick Ware Racing,” Albano, NOS Energy’s marketing director, added. “Coming off a 2020 USAC Championship Season, it’s clear Chris is a wheelman and ready for this next challenge. Bristol Motor Speedway is such an iconic NASCAR track and will be rather special to see a NOS Energy car hit the track with one of our original dirt track drivers.”
While their #51 and #52 have full-time drivers, RWR’s #15 (and #53) are being piloted by a variety of names in 2021. Derrike Cope and James Davison opened the season for the two Daytona races, and the latter is entered for Sunday’s Homestead event. Like Windom, Davison has ties to Hayward and Byrd, both of whom are dirt track team owners with the latter also fielding entries in the IndyCar Series for Davison and maintaining a partnership with RWR.