Rather than a traditional qualifying format, the NASCAR Cup and Camping World Truck Series‘ races on Bristol Motor Speedway‘s dirt layout will have their fields set by four heat races apiece on Saturday. On Thursday, NASCAR revealed the starting lineups for the eight races.
While a practice session is scheduled for Friday, the heat grids were set by random draw.
The two feature races—the Trucks’ Pinty’s Dirt Truck Race on Saturday night and the Cup Series’ Food City Dirt Race the next day—will have their starting orders set by heat points: the sum of one’s finishing position in their heat and passing points that are earned based on how many spots they advanced from where they started. If one wins a heat, they receive ten points, while second receives nine and so on. For passing points, those who start fifth and finish second will receive three. For example, a driver who starts tenth and wins will receive ten heat finish points and nine passing points for nineteen in total; ties are broken based on owners’ standings. These points do not go toward the championship.
Cup: Houff, Keselowski, Bowman, LaJoie on poles
With thirty-nine cars entered, all but one of the heats (the fourth being the exception) have ten drivers each. As it does not exceed the maximum allowed in a field, the heats will only serve to set the starting lineup with no drivers failing to qualify for the feature.
Quin Houff is not a name that many anticipate seeing at the front, but he will start on the pole for the first heat; currently in his second full-time Cup season, he has never started a race higher than twenty-fifth. In Wednesday night’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at Bristol, he squeezed into the feature after taking the final transfer spot in his heat. On the other hand, starting opposite him is Kyle Larson, who is one of the top dirt track racers and already locked into the playoffs. Also in the heat is Shane Golobic, a USAC ace who starts ninth in his Cup début; he will pilot Live Fast Motorsports‘ #78 that was driven by team owner B.J. McLeod in last week’s race.
Brad Keselowski sat out the PIS race but drew the pole for Heat #2. Also on the front row is another Cup newcomer with Mike Marlar in MBM Motorsports‘ #66; a former World of Outlaws Late Model champion, Marlar will also run the Truck race. Ironically, the #66 is primarily Timmy Hill’s ride, and Hill had driven Keselowski’s #2 in the PIS after Keselowski and original PIS driver Austin Cindric agreed to let him take over. William Byron, who won the PIS event, starts sixth in the heat. Starting ninth is Austin Dillon, who won the previous week’s 602 Late Model class feature at the Bristol Dirt Nationals.
A pair of Arizona natives in Alex Bowman and J.J. Yeley comprise the front row for Heat #3. Bowman owns a USAC midget racing team, a discipline in which Yeley enjoyed tremendous success prior to beginning his NASCAR career; Yeley is one of two drivers in the field to achieve the USAC Triple Crown by winning the sanctioning body’s Silver Crown, National Sprint Car, and National Midget championships. Bristol will be Yeley’s first Cup race of 2021, while he had already made two Xfinity Series starts earlier in the year. Ty Dillon starts third in his first Cup race since the Daytona road course in mid-February.
Corey LaJoie and Matt DiBenedetto will lead the field to green for the final heat. The qualifying race will feature two Cup newcomers with Chris Windom (third) and Stewart Friesen (sixth). Windom, the other USAC Triple Crown winner, is running his first NASCAR race since 2018 in the Trucks as a team-mate to Yeley at Rick Ware Racing, while Friesen is a Truck regular taking over the #77 of Spire Motorsports that has been primarily run by Xfinity driver Justin Haley.
|1||00||Quin Houff||StarCom Racing||Chevrolet|
|2||5||Kyle Larson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|3||6||Ryan Newman||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford|
|4||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|5||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|6||23||Bubba Wallace||23XI Racing||Toyota|
|7||43||Erik Jones||Richard Petty Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|8||38||Anthony Alfredo||Front Row Motorsports||Ford|
|9||78||Shane Golobic||Live Fast Motorsports||Ford|
|10||1||Kurt Busch||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet|
* – Ineligible for Cup points
|1||2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford|
|2||66||Mike Marlar||MBM Motorsports||Toyota|
|3||99||Daniel Suárez||Trackhouse Racing Team||Chevrolet|
|4||34||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports||Ford|
|5||52||Josh Bilicki||Rick Ware Racing||Ford|
|6||24||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|7||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet|
|8||20||Christopher Bell||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|9||3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet|
|10||17||Chris Buescher||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford|
|1||48||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|2||53||J.J. Yeley*||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet|
|3||96||Ty Dillon||Gaunt Brothers Racing||Toyota|
|4||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|5||8||Tyler Reddick||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet|
|6||41||Cole Custer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|7||51||Cody Ware||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet|
|8||10||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|9||22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford|
|10||37||Ryan Preece||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet|
|1||7||Corey LaJoie||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|2||21||Matt DiBenedetto||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford|
|3||15||Chris Windom||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet|
|4||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|5||42||Ross Chastain||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet|
|6||77||Stewart Friesen*||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|7||12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Ford|
|8||9||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|9||14||Chase Briscoe||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
Trucks: Marlar, Snider, Deegan, Heffner comprise poles
Unlike the Cup Series, the Trucks have forty-four entries, meaning eleven drivers in each heat and four will go home. The top thirty-five will be set based on heat points, while the final five will go to those highest in owner points who did not lock themselves via qualifying race.
The luck of the draw seems to have blessed Marlar as he will also start on the front row for the first heat, though on the pole this time ahead of Tate Fogleman. It will be Marlar’s first Truck race since his NASCAR début at Eldora Speedway—then the only dirt track in NASCAR—in 2019, where he finished fourth; he will drive the #56 Hill Motorsports truck owned by Timmy Hill. Starting behind him is Jake Griffin in his first start since the 2019 Eldora race and seventh of his career; incidentally, Griffin is driving for Reaume Brothers Racing, for whom Marlar raced at Eldora. Cup drivers Bubba Wallace and Kevin Harvick are also in the heat as they start eighth and tenth, respectively; Wallace, the 2014 Eldora winner, is running his first Truck race since 2019 while Harvick enters his first since 2015. Friesen, the last NASCAR national series dirt winner after triumphing at Eldora in 2019, starts fifth.
It is not uncommon for Cup drivers to run lower series races for extra seat time as Wallace and Harvick are, but Heat #2 pole sitter Myatt Snider is the lone example of an Xfinity driver dabbling in the Trucks for the fun of it. While his series has no dirt races, Snider joins Reaume for his return to the Trucks after last racing in it as a substitute driver for Johnny Sauter; Sauter will start the heat directly behind Snider in third. Ryan Truex starts second, while his older brother and Cup regular Martin Truex Jr. begins his first Truck start since 2006 for Kyle Busch Motorsports in sixth. Friesen’s wife Jessica starts eighth as she hopes to qualify in her NASCAR début; fellow female driver Jennifer Jo Cobb is ninth.
The third woman in the race is rookie Hailie Deegan, a former off-road racer who will start on the pole for Heat #3 ahead of Carson Hocevar. Trevor Collins, a late model racer, will make his second attempt at qualifying in the Trucks after missing the 2018 Eldora event; he starts third. A trio of Cup drivers—Daniel Suárez, 2016 Eldora winner Larson, and 2018 Eldora victor Chase Briscoe—will respectively start eighth, ninth, and eleventh. Driving the #02 for Young’s Motorsports (which rookie Kris Wright vacated after testing positive for COVID-19 the previous week), Suárez runs his first Truck event since 2016, as is Larson.
J.R. Heffner entered the Eldora race from 2013 to 2018, and drew the Heat #4 pole in his return to the Truck Series as he drives Jordan Anderson Racing‘s #3. Ryan Newman, driving for newly-formed DCC (Diversified Custom Concepts) Racing, is the lone Cup racer in the qualifying race as he starts third and hopes to make his first Truck start since 2018. Andrew Gordon starts fourth as he aims for his maiden start in NASCAR. Cody Erickson, who participated in the 2014 and 2015 Eldora events, returns to Cram Racing Enterprises‘ #41 for the second time after first driving for the team at Bristol in 2020; Erickson starts ninth.
|1||56||Mike Marlar*||Hill Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|2||12||Tate Fogleman||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|3||34||Jake Griffin||Reaume Brothers Racing||Toyota|
|4||23||Chase Purdy||GMS Racing||Chevrolet|
|5||52||Stewart Friesen||Halmar Friesen Racing||Toyota|
|6||26||Tyler Ankrum||GMS Racing||Chevrolet|
|7||18||Chandler Smith||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota|
|8||11||Bubba Wallace*||Spencer Davis Motorsports||Toyota|
|9||22||Austin Wayne Self||AM Racing||Chevrolet|
|10||17||Kevin Harvick*||David Gilliland Racing||Ford|
|11||16||Austin Hill||Hattori Racing Enterprises||Toyota|
* – Ineligible for Truck points
|1||33||Myatt Snider*||Reaume Brothers Racing||Chevrolet|
|2||40||Ryan Truex||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|3||13||Johnny Sauter||ThorSport Racing||Toyota|
|4||15||Tanner Gray||David Gilliland Racing||Ford|
|5||75||Parker Kligerman||Henderson Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|6||51||Martin Truex Jr.*||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota|
|7||4||John Hunter Nemechek||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota|
|8||62||Jessica Friesen||Halmar Friesen Racing||Toyota|
|9||10||Jennifer Jo Cobb||Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing||Chevrolet|
|10||88||Matt Crafton||ThorSport Racing||Toyota|
|11||25||Timothy Peters||Rackley WAR||Chevrolet|
|1||1||Hailie Deegan||David Gilliland Racing||Ford|
|2||42||Carson Hocevar||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|3||24||Raphaël Lessard||GMS Racing||Chevrolet|
|4||83||Trevor Collins||CMI Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|5||98||Grant Enfinger||ThorSport Racing||Toyota|
|6||45||Brett Moffitt||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|7||20||Spencer Boyd||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|8||02||Daniel Suárez||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|9||44||Kyle Larson*||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|10||6||Norm Benning||Norm Benning Racing||Chevrolet|
|11||04||Chase Briscoe*||Roper Racing||Ford|
|1||3||J.R. Heffner||Jordan Anderson Racing||Chevrolet|
|2||38||Todd Gilliland||Front Row Motorsports||Ford|
|3||39||Ryan Newman*||DCC Racing||Ford|
|4||49||Andrew Gordon||CMI Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|5||9||Codie Rohrbaugh||CR7 Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|6||21||Zane Smith||GMS Racing||Chevrolet|
|7||30||Danny Bohn||On Point Motorsports||Toyota|
|8||2||Sheldon Creed||GMS Racing||Chevrolet|
|9||41||Cody Erickson||Cram Racing Enterprises||Chevrolet|
|10||99||Ben Rhodes||ThorSport Racing||Toyota|
|11||19||Derek Kraus||McAnally-Hilgemann Racing||Toyota|