The NASCAR Xfinity Series heats up in Thunder Valley at the .533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway for the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300. SaturdayAfternoon’s race will be the first installment of the Dash 4 Cash, and will introduce the new heat race format announced by NASCAR in January. 42 drivers will be competing for the 40 available spots.
Bristol Motor Speedway is a .533-mile concrete oval, located in northern Tennessee. The corners feature variable banking ranging from 24 to 28 degrees. The straights also feature variable banking, and ranges from six to 10 degrees. The straights are only 650 feet long. The racing surface is 40 feet wide.
Bristol Motor Speedway will be home to the start of the run for the Dash 4 Cash. Heat races will be the format used for these events. Dash 4 Cash will only be held at Bristol, Richmond, Dover, and Indianapolis. Teams will qualify like normal for the Coors Light Pole Award. Drivers who qualified in odd-numbered positions will race in the first heat race, and even-numbered position qualifiers will race in the second heat race. The winners of the heat races will start on the front row for the main event. Lane choice for the start of the main event will go to the driver who had the faster speed in qualifying. The rest of the field will be set by the finishing order of the heat races. Heat races will go their scheduled distances without NASCAR overtime. If a driver wrecks in their respective heat, they can only work on their car until the checkered flag waves for that heat. For the main event, teams can change tires, take fuel, and make any adjustments before the main event. Wayne Auton, NASCAR Xfinity Series director told NASCAR.com, "You have to start the heat on the tires you qualified on and you have to start the heat on the fuel (from qualifying). No one should run out of fuel with the amount of laps we're running.” If a driver wins multiple Dash 4 Cash bonuses, they will be eligible for the new Chase format, if they remain eligible per NASCAR rulebook.
67 races have been held at Bristol Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. 47 drivers have won a pole at Bristol. There have been 42 different race winners. There have been nine races where a driver as won from the pole position. In 2012, Elliott Sadler sat a race record with a speed of 94.74 mph. In 2004, Greg Biffle set a record pole speed at 127.132 mph. Seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will be competing in Saturday’s race.
Drivers are excited for Bristol.
In a release, Ryan Reed, driver of the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, talks about the heat race factor on Saturday. “I think all of us drivers are really anxious, but excited about how the heat races will play out at Bristol this weekend. Adding this new element into the XFINITY Dash 4 Cash program is huge and could have major points implications if we do well, or not-so-well. We have really been working on our short-track program and I think we have a shot at qualifying for the Dash 4 Cash and having a good points day. I’m also excited to hang out with fans as we kick off the Lilly Diabetes #IDriveMyHealth Show Car Tour and hear how fans are taking care of their health to manage or prevent diabetes.”
Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevy, explains why he loves going to Bristol. “I love coming to Bristol Motor Speedway. It’s one of my favorite tracks and provides a very unique atmosphere. The heat races are going to be interesting, so we will see how that all plays out. Bristol is a place we know we have a chance to win.”
Kyle Busch, last week’s winner at Texas Motor Speedway, explains the challenges of Bristol. “I think the most challenging aspect of Bristol is just how difficult it is to transition through from the straightaways to the corners, back to the straightaways, and have your car set up in order to do all that. Sometimes you can be really loose getting in, or you can be really tight in the middle – you just seem to never be able to get a good-flowing car that works well there. Drivers have to do a lot of manipulation on the racetrack with their car in order to try to make the best of it.”
The NASCAR Xfinity hits the track at 12:30 pm eastern on Friday, April 15, for their first practice session, only on Fox Sports 1. The Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 will begin at 12:30 pm eastern on Saturday, April 16, on Fox Sports 1 and Performance Racing Network.
Friday, April 15
12:30 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series practice, FS1
3 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series final practice, FS1
Saturday, April 16
9:30 a.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS1
Noon, NASCAR RaceDay: Xfinity, FS1
12:30 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series: Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300. FS1