ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 ADVENTHEALTH CAMARO ZL1
What do you think about racing on dirt in NASCAR?
“There are a few guys in the Cup Series that know so much about it and have a huge passion for it which is cool. Bristol dirt is a unique event and I practice on the simulator as much as I can and kind of hope for the best. I'm certainly not qualified to talk to NASCAR about track prep and things like that when it comes to the surface (laughs).”
What do you have to say about your finish at Richmond last weekend?
“It was great to leave Richmond with a third-place finish last week. That track hasn't been very kind to me. I usually start off pretty good and then it kind of tapers off from there. I think the third-place finish shows that we are making progress at a track that traditionally hasn't been that good for me. I think one of the important things you look for as a driver is if you're making progress each week, or at each track that you go to. You don't want to stay stagnant; you always want to improve in some way."
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 BREZTRI CAMARO ZL1
What are you looking forward to most about the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt race?
“I think the biggest thing is an opportunity to get into the NASCAR Playoffs. Growing up as a dirt racer, I love getting on the dirt now and trying to find different lines out there and be creative. We’ll see what we get with the track when we show up there on Friday. You really have to watch the weather when it comes to a dirt track. We’ll monitor that and see what kind of track we’re going to have. I’m looking forward to it.”
You have a lot of experience dirt racing in several types of vehicles at Bristol Motor Speedway. Does that give you confidence heading into the race?
“For sure. We’ve won in a Late Model on the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt before, and that gives us a little bit of confidence heading into this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race on the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt. Last year, we ran up front in the Bristol Dirt Race and ended up blowing up from the dirt impacting the engine. This year, we’re more prepared. I think we’ll take something similar this year and try to watch the weather. Dirt racing is very weather-dependent so hopefully the rain stays away and the track conditions stay solid. Either way, with whatever track conditions we get we need a car that can adapt. We need to make the car very adaptable, and hopefully the driver is adaptable, too.”
How much more challenging is the weather element on a dirt track versus another track?
“When a dirt track gets wet, it changes how it drives a lot. Depending on how the team of track workers prep the track during the week, it can change. Right now, it’s sunny where I am at. If it’s hot and sunny at Bristol Motor Speedway, that track can harden up. Then, when the weather hits, if it rains, it softens that dirt up. The moisture gets down in the dirt and it changes the way the car drives. We’ll just be working hard to chase that and hopefully when the weather comes it is an advantage for this No. 3 team. From an asphalt standpoint, when it rains we wait until the track dries. From a dirt track standpoint, the dirt will soak up the moisture that it gets, soften the track up and create more grip. If it doesn’t get any moisture, it can be dry slick. The conditions change really fast on a dirt track. You really want to be maneuverable so that you can move around and chase where you see the darker colored dirt to find grip.”
Is there a key to winning at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend?
“For a dirt race, I think the big key is being successful in your heat race, getting a good starting position and then being able to change your line to find grip. If the top line comes in, you need to be able to move up, get to the top. If the bottom line is the place to be, then that’s where you need to be.”
What about racing on Easter night? That’s kind of different for you guys.
“Easter has always been a time for family and the good Lord above. We’ll still celebrate God on Sunday, and spend time with our families. I’m looking forward to having my son, Ace, at Bristol Motor Speedway. Motor Racing Outreach has an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids in the parking lot, so it’s pretty special and fun to see those kids all running around looking for eggs. They’ve done a really good job with Sunday service at the track for Easter weekend. But then, after everybody celebrates Easter, that evening you’ll see us racing on the dirt track at Bristol.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
Larson on if his dirt experience gives him an advantage this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway:
"I definitely get excited to go to Bristol for the dirt race. People probably look at me being a favorite, but it’s so different than the dirt racing that I do throughout the week. I don’t really feel like I have an advantage like some people might think. Either way, I know our race cars are fast everywhere we go, so that gives me the most confidence. Hopefully, the track conditions are right, we can put on a good race and I can find my way to the front. Getting a win there would be pretty neat."
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 8 CHEDDAR’S SCRATCH KITCHEN CAMARO ZL1
How significant was your win last year at the Bristol dirt race?
“I feel like last year’s win at the Bristol dirt race was pretty significant in the fact that I think I’ve won on every configuration that I’ve raced on at Bristol. It’s just a really fun track and I really love going there. It’s one of my favorites. It reminds me of one of my favorite tracks growing up, Winchester Speedway.”
Is there anything you can do to prepare for that specific race? Is it possible to learn something on the SIM?
“I don’t really do anything special to prepare for the Bristol dirt race. The biggest thing is just having dirt experience throughout the year of different vehicles and sliding them around and knowing where the grip is and where it isn’t and following the ever-changing conditions as the track deteriorates over time. It’s more about how good of a dirt racer you are and how good your team is knowing what adjustments to make to the car during different points of the race or the weekend. There’s really nothing on SIM that can correlate. The SIM might give you reps but I don’t think it gives you very good feel or anything besides visuals.”
How much does the surface of the track change during the weekend or the race itself?
“The track surface changes all the time. It’s super wet and super tacky and has a lot of chunks of mud that’ll fly off when it’s fresh and when it’s new. And then as you get that first layer of mud kind of burned off you get down to the harder layers of clay underneath it that are always drier because it doesn’t seem like the water really saturates all the way in and all the way through so it’s hard for the track to really always stay good and tacky and grippy. It really blows off is how we term it and then you have to run up on the cushion and get your right rear in some of the moisture that’s still there while that continues to burn off and move up the racetrack consistently.”
With the Next Gen cars, how can you and the team make the car drive better if you’re struggling?
“The Next Gen cars are a little bit tougher just because last year we saw Chase Briscoe shifting a lot and he was doing a really good job of getting that to work for him. It tried it and couldn’t get it to work for me. That just throws another wrench into the plan of if you shift or if you don’t shift. You really want to have good drive off. Drive off is the biggest thing where you feel like you can make time and make passes. You try to set up your passes coming off the corner and then do a slide job into the next corner but it doesn’t always work well. Trying to find momentum but yet having overall grip all the way around is key to Bristol dirt.”
JOSH BERRY, NO. 9 HOOTERS CAMARO ZL1
Berry on the dirt race at Bristol:
"The Bristol dirt race will be another new experience for me, but I’m excited to get there and see what we can do. I gained a little bit of dirt experience in the (CRAFTSMAN) Truck Series at Knoxville Raceway a couple years ago, so hopefully I can apply some of what I learned there. If we can continue to improve throughout the weekend, we’ll have a great shot at getting Hooters Chevrolet towards the front by the end."
JONATHAN DAVENPORT, NO. 13 NUTRIEN AG SOLUTIONS CAMARO ZL1
"I’m nervously excited for my Cup debut on the dirt at Bristol. Totally different atmosphere, totally different kind of car and kind of racing. It’s going to be huge learning curve, but I’m up for the task and I feel good about it. I’m going to absorb all the information I can from my teammates Justin (Haley) and AJ (Allmendinger) to learn the car and learn how Cup drivers race. I’ve got great support from Kaulig Racing and my long-time partner Nutrien Ag Solutions. Every race car driver wants to drive in NASCAR; this is the best opportunity I’ve had to be able to make this dream come true."
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 16 GAIN CAMARO ZL1
"I'm looking forward to trying something new this weekend at Bristol Dirt. I'm definitely nervous, last time I was on dirt was 2009, I think, in Tony Stewart's Prelude to the Dream. This is a race I've watched the last couple years and I'm looking forward to at least trying it out. I'm not sure how it will go, but it will be fun to learn from my teammates Justin (Haley) and Jonathan (Davenport) on the dirt. We'll see how it goes."
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 RAPTORTOUGH.COM CAMARO ZL1
Byron having extra track time at Bristol:
"Bristol dirt has been a tough challenge for me. The first year it raced more like an asphalt track with how slick it got and it took on rubber. Last year, they did better with the track surface. It was more like a traditional dirt track, which didn’t really help me much. This year, I’m running the truck race with KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) and I’m excited to do that. I’m hoping those extra laps will help me on Sunday. I’m looking forward to having three days of on track time to have it really figured out for Sunday."
JUSTIN HALEY, NO. 31 TIDE CAMARO ZL1
"I’m looking forward to dirt racing at Bristol, something I’m super passionate about. Jonathan Davenport will be bringing some of his dirt-racing expertise to Kaulig Racing this weekend as well. We’ve spent quite a bit of time on the simulator preparing for this weekend. We did really well last year and won our heat race. I’m also excited to have the power of Tide onboard our No. 31 Camaro ZL1 as part of our partnership with our good friends at Food City. This is definitely a weekend I’ve been looking forward to."
NOAH GRAGSON, NO. 42 SUNSEEKER RESORTS CAMARO ZL1
"My goal this weekend is to complete all the laps and hopefully have a strong run. I'm not much of a 'dirt' guy so it’s challenging for me to know where on the track I need to run and how sideways I can get the Sunseeker Chevy. We're up for a new opportunity and new challenge this weekend, I've had the experience of running the dirt race at Bristol in the Cup Series last year, and I finished it, so we are looking for some good luck and a good finish."
ERIK JONES, NO. 43 CLUB WYNDHAM CAMARO ZL1
Now that you've had a year to think about it, how differently do these NextGen cars drive compared to any of the other cars you've driven before on dirt?
“Yeah, I don't really think that the NextGen car drives a whole lot different on dirt compared to the old car. You know, overall, it has some of the same tendencies as what the old car did, but I thought the biggest change last year was due to some of the track prep. It stayed pretty tacky through the race, and we had some rain in the area, so it kind of kept the track in a heavy state, and it made the racing a lot different. I think this year might be kind of the same, it seems like we will still have some of that adverse weather in the area once again, so we'll see how that plays out, but overall I think the cars are pretty similar."
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., NO. 47 KROGER / IRISH SPRING CAMARO ZL1
Stenhouse Jr. on his dirt experience:
“I’d like to think past dirt experience helps me, but these cars are totally different than any sprint cars I’ve raced or really anything I’ve driven growing up. It’s still the dirt aspect. You are looking for the change in the dirt and how the cushion is. Last year, it had a pretty big cushion. So, that was fun. These cars I wouldn’t say are made for a cushion like that. It threw everyone for a loop and it was a bit different from what we were expecting. Just being able to adapt to different racetrack conditions makes me really comfortable going there.”
Stenhouse Jr. on car setup:
“The whole aspect of dirt racing is that it’s different every time you show up. It’s basically a short track, with high bank and not much grip. You’ve got to look for a worn out racetrack with high banks and it is similar to that. You want the setup to be based off of that.”
Stenhouse Jr. on dialing it in for the weekend:
“I really enjoy the dirt race, but I enjoy the regular Bristol by far the best of any racetrack,” said Stenhouse Jr. “Bristol dirt is fun and it’s unique and has its own characteristics. Last year, it was quite a bit different than the first year we ran it. The first year I thought it was technical and tricky with the holes and taking rubber and how dusty it was. I think the guys got it dialed in, and I’m looking forward to running the dirt race there again.”
Stenhouse Jr. on being close so many times:
“Now that the Daytona 500 is scratched off my win list, Bristol is definitely the next one on the list to win,” said Stenhouse Jr. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s the dirt race or the night race. I’ll take a win at Bristol. We’ve been so close in both the NASCAR Xfinity and Cup Series. I’ve been up front a lot at Bristol and it’s by far my favorite track that we go to on the circuit. Hopefully, we can get it done on the dirt this year.”
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1
Bowman on heading to the dirt race at Bristol:
“This race is always interesting. From the first year to last year, NASCAR did a good job of making some improvements and making the racing product better. Last year went pretty well for us finishing sixth. We have a better idea of what we need to have a good No. 48 Ally Chevy, but part of it is just keeping the race car out of the chaos. We have had a lot of fast Chevys this season and I think we will have another one this weekend, but we will find out Sunday."
DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 JOCKEY CAMARO ZL1
Why are you good at Bristol despite having no dirt experience?
"I really don't know to be honest. I can say my team has given me a great car in both races and we have had a really good strategy. I am having fun racing on dirt. We'll see what happens Sunday but we are going to Bristol with plans to win the race and have a heck of a party afterwards."
How is your season so far?
"We have had three disappointing finishes in the last three weeks, but if you look closer we were running in the top five when things happened. If we keep running that fast we are going to be fine. It's a long season and you are going to have some bad luck, but that will turn. We just have to keep running like we have been running."
GRANT ENFINGER, NO. 23 CHAMPION POWER EQUIPMENT SILVERADO RST
Finishing eighth in last year's truck race at Bristol added to the streak of top-10 finishes at dirt tracks for you. Do you expect to continue this streak this weekend and if so what are your expectations?
“I am looking forward to Bristol Motor Speedway on dirt. Hensley and I have been solid on the dirt in the past and My No. 23 Champion Power Equipment team has put in a lot of effort these past few weeks. We have learned a lot as a team and feel this is a great opportunity to regain some momentum heading into the last two races of this five week stretch.”
RAJAH CARUTH, NO. 24 WENDELL SCOTT FOUNDATION SILVERADO RST
Caruth's thoughts on competing on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway:
"I'm really excited, honestly, to give Bristol Dirt a shot this weekend. I've done a handful of dirt races over the past year, with some starts at Millbridge, and both of the ARCA Menards Series races at Springfield and DuQuoin last summer were a lot of fun. I know we will have a lot of pace with our Wendell Scott Foundation Chevy Silverado, and I'm going to use lessons that Lightning McQueen and Doc Hudson have taught me - 'Turn right to go left'. I've gotta look up some more quotes from that movie for this weekend, but definitely will rely on some of those lessons for sure."
DANIEL DYE, NO. 43 SOLAR-FIT / RACE TO STOP SUICIDE SILVERADO RST
What experiences from racing an ARCA car on dirt do you think will translate to racing a truck on dirt?
“The ARCA races on dirt were pretty crazy last year, taking a heavy stock car and racing it around a couple of horse racing tracks was a unique experience, but I don't think that experience is going to hurt us on Friday and Saturday for what we have going on at Bristol. It's going to be a weird experience for me; I've raced on the concrete at Bristol a couple of times before in a Late Model and in an ARCA car, but it's going to be completely different on the dirt. I'm looking forward to competing there in the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series with our No. 43 Chevrolet, it'll be a new challenge for sure.”
CHASE PURDY, NO. 4 BAMA BUGGIES SILVERADO RST
What are your thoughts on racing on the dirt at Bristol?
“It’s interesting to say the least. I’m not exactly sure what to expect this year because I don’t think there has been as many races that have been run on it since the dirt has been put down as there was the last two years. I think that will make it interesting to see how the track is run in and takes rubber and what lines we can use. I’m not really sure what to expect with our Bama Buggies team but coming off a great weekend at Texas I’m really excited to get back to the track.”
Do you anything different in your preparation for a race on dirt?
“Yeah, I think you kind of just throw a lot of the things you would tend to do on asphalt tracks out the window here. There are some guys in the series you can talk to that are dirt guys like Stewart Friesen or anyone else that has run in dirt. Stewart is a good one because he’s run a truck a lot on dirt and he races dirt cars all the time when the trucks aren’t racing. I just think you have to go back and watch the previous years races to study because that’s all you have.”
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 51 HENDRICKCARS.COM SILVERADO RST
Are you looking forward to getting back in a KBM truck for three races?
“I’m looking forward it. Seeing how fast the trucks have been makes me excited to get in them. The tracks that we picked are ones that I really work on and get better, with the exception of Darlington, which is one that I just really, really love racing there.”
Do you feel the racing you’ve done outside of the Cup Series in recent years has helped contribute to your success in the Cup Series?
“Yeah – I think it gives me something to do and work towards during the weekend and not just be solely focused on the cup car. I can just kind of learn things here and there from the different vehicles I get into, and I feel like it makes me better when I get into the Cup car because I have more knowledge. Always kind of learning as a driver and I feel like it helps being able to race more.”
You scored KBM’s record-breaking 51st victory in 2016. How cool would it be to get the 100th win for them?
“It would be awesome. Dirt is not my forte but certainly with these guys I think we can hopefully go out and get a win. We’ll play it by ear how the weekend goes, but hopefully we can get there by the end.”