NASCAR’s long-awaited return to dirt came to fruition on Friday as the NASCAR Cup and Camping World Truck Series unloaded at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Thirty-nine cars and 44 trucks each participated in two separate practice sessions. Alex Bowman’s 20.155-second lap (89.308 mph) led the way in the first practice for the Food City Dirt Race. Raphael Lessard topped the speed charts for the Pinty's Truck Race on Dirt with a time of 19.384-seconds (92.860 mph).
“It’s a lot of fun for sure,” Bowman said. “I’m pretty happy with our Ally Camaro. Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has worked really hard guessing, I guess, on the dirt side of things and trying to use the little bit of knowledge that we do have.
“It’s a lot of fun; It’s a blast going around here. It’d going pretty well so far. I feel like on long runs we’re lacking. I’ve just been running the right-rear (tire) off. We’ll keep working on it.
“I’m definitely happy to be P1 after practice but we definitely have some work to do.”
Christopher Bell was second quick in first Cup practice followed by Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Cole Custer, William Byron and rookie Chase Briscoe. Stewart Friesen ran 29th making his Cup debut with Spire Motorsports. Dirt regulars Chris Windom and Shane Geologic posted the 34th and 37th quick times for Rick Ware Racing.
Carson Hocevar was second quick in truck hot laps followed by Hailie Deegan, Briscoe, Friesen, Tanner Gray, Todd Gilliland, Sheldon Creed, Tyler Ankrum, and Brett Moffitt.
Hocevar, who is carrying a Bryan Clauson tribute livery this weekend, currently leads the NCWTS rookie standings. The 18-year-old met Clauson when he first started racing quarter midgets.
"Bryan Clauson was a hero of mine and I got a chance to learn from him in quarter midgets,” Hocevar said. “I really look at how big of an impact he had on the racing community and how he handled himself on and off the track.”
The truckers triggered nine cautions during the first 50-minute session while Cup practice was slowed just three times—once for Martin Truex Jr., and twice for J.J. Yeley in Turn 4.
Qualifying heats for both tours begin at 4:30 on Saturday. Eight drivers will attempt to run both events including Daniel Suarez, Briscoe, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., and Stewart Friesen.