NASCAR Cup SeriesNASCAR Truck Series

Bristol dirt heat race grids set

6 Mins read
Credit: Bristol Motor Speedwau

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.

Heat #1

100Quin HouffStarCom RacingChevrolet
25Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
36Ryan NewmanRoush Fenway RacingFord
411Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
519Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota
623Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota
743Erik JonesRichard Petty MotorsportsChevrolet
838Anthony AlfredoFront Row MotorsportsFord
978Shane GolobicLive Fast MotorsportsFord
101Kurt BuschChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Cup points

Heat #2

12Brad KeselowskiTeam PenskeFord
266Mike MarlarMBM MotorsportsToyota
399Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet
434Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord
552Josh BilickiRick Ware RacingFord
624William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
747Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet
820Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
93Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
1017Chris BuescherRoush Fenway RacingFord

Heat #3

148Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
253J.J. Yeley*Rick Ware RacingChevrolet
396Ty DillonGaunt Brothers RacingToyota
44Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord
58Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
641Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord
751Cody WareRick Ware RacingChevrolet
810Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord
922Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord
1037Ryan PreeceJTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet

Heat #4

17Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet
221Matt DiBenedettoWood Brothers RacingFord
315Chris WindomRick Ware RacingChevrolet
418Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
542Ross ChastainChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet
677Stewart Friesen*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet
712Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord
89Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
914Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord
Credit: NASCAR

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.

Heat #1

156Mike Marlar*Hill MotorsportsChevrolet
212Tate FoglemanYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet
334Jake GriffinReaume Brothers RacingToyota
423Chase PurdyGMS RacingChevrolet
552Stewart FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingToyota
626Tyler AnkrumGMS RacingChevrolet
718Chandler SmithKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota
811Bubba Wallace*Spencer Davis MotorsportsToyota
922Austin Wayne SelfAM RacingChevrolet
1017Kevin Harvick*David Gilliland RacingFord
1116Austin HillHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Truck points

Heat #2

133Myatt Snider*Reaume Brothers RacingChevrolet
240Ryan TruexNiece MotorsportsChevrolet
313Johnny SauterThorSport RacingToyota
415Tanner GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord
575Parker KligermanHenderson MotorsportsChevrolet
651Martin Truex Jr.*Kyle Busch MotorsportsToyota
74John Hunter NemechekKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota
862Jessica FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingToyota
910Jennifer Jo CobbJennifer Jo Cobb RacingChevrolet
1088Matt CraftonThorSport RacingToyota
1125Timothy PetersRackley WARChevrolet

Heat #3

11Hailie DeeganDavid Gilliland RacingFord
242Carson HocevarNiece MotorsportsChevrolet
324Raphaël LessardGMS RacingChevrolet
483Trevor CollinsCMI MotorsportsChevrolet
598Grant EnfingerThorSport RacingToyota
645Brett MoffittNiece MotorsportsChevrolet
720Spencer BoydYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet
802Daniel SuárezYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet
944Kyle Larson*Niece MotorsportsChevrolet
106Norm BenningNorm Benning RacingChevrolet
1104Chase Briscoe*Roper RacingFord

Heat #4

13J.R. HeffnerJordan Anderson RacingChevrolet
238Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord
339Ryan Newman*DCC RacingFord
449Andrew GordonCMI MotorsportsChevrolet
59Codie RohrbaughCR7 MotorsportsChevrolet
621Zane SmithGMS RacingChevrolet
730Danny BohnOn Point MotorsportsToyota
82Sheldon CreedGMS RacingChevrolet
941Cody EricksonCram Racing EnterprisesChevrolet
1099Ben RhodesThorSport RacingToyota
1119Derek KrausMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingToyota
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