The Bristol dirt race experiment is over for now.
Bristol Motor Speedway announced Friday that the spring NASCAR Cup Series race at the track would be on the concrete surface. The last three spring Cup races at the track have been on a temporary dirt surface.
“As the motorsports world focuses on [Saturday night's race], we are thrilled to announce Bristol Motor Speedway will host the return of the Food City 500 on the concrete high-banks of the World's Fastest Half Mile in the spring of 2024,” Bristol president Jerry Caldwell said in a track statement “We will revive a logo reminiscent of the first Food City 500s in the early ’90s and resurrect the track’s vintage trademark look and feel of the era. We’re looking forward to a great weekend of racing and what’s to come in 2024.”
The move to dirt was made in an effort to boost attendance and interest in the spring race. While the stands were full in 2021, crowds lessened in 2022 and 2023 and the racing really wasn’t all that exceptional. Quite simply, the novelty wore off pretty quickly, especially as rain plagued the first two races. It also can be hard to create a raceable dirt surface at a permanent dirt track let alone one that’s built in months over a permanent concrete surface.
Joey Logano won the first race in 2021 while Kyle Busch won in 2022 and Christopher Bell won this season.
The last two Bristol dirt races have been the night of Easter Sunday and it’s unclear if Bristol will keep that date in 2024. NASCAR typically had taken the Easter Sunday weekend off but saw the opportunity for good television ratings.
Four million people tuned into the 2022 race while 3.5 million watched the race in 2023. The first Bristol dirt race, which was delayed until Monday, had 3.1 million viewers — an impressive number for a Monday afternoon.
NASCAR is set to announce the complete 2024 schedule in the coming weeks.