2022 Bristol Dirt Race Report

The 2022 Bristol Dirt Race Report features few leaders, few lead changes, two engine failures, a whole lot of laps run under caution — and two great examples of how adults handle disappointment from two young drivers.

Lead/Caution-O-Gram

We start the 2022 Bristol Dirt Race Report with a caution-o-gram that shows 14 cautions for 82 laps. That’s 32.8% of the race run under caution.

  • 1 Competition Caution
  • 1 Stage-End Caution
  • 8 Accidents
  • 3 Spins
  • 1 Debris Caution
The Lead/Caution-O-Gram for 2022 Bristol Dirt Race Report

Five different drivers led laps, but only one of them — Chase Briscoe — passed under green. The other lead changes were staying out at the end of stages or taking the lead after an accident. Kyle Busch, of course, won the race after Briscoe spun himself and Reddick trying to pass.

A stacked vertical bar graph showing laps led drivers in the 2022 Bristol Dirt Race

Seven drivers didn’t finish the race. Five of those seven left after accidents. Engines failed Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin. That’s Hamlin’s fourth DNF in 2022 after being the only driver without a single DNF last year.

Fast Cars Led the Race

Kyle Busch admitted that he ‘backed into’ the win, but he was in third place and close enough to take advantage of the other two drivers’ misfortunes. It’s not like he wasn’t fast

A vertical bar chart showing the number of fastest laps for the 2022 Bristol Dirt race

In fact, most of the fastest drivers led laps. Or did they make the fastest laps because they were leading? That’s something I’ll be looking into more.

Should We Have a Bristol Dirt Race?

Bob Pockrass made an impassioned please to do it again because he really wants to see the drivers have a chance to race without the weather impacts. Kevin Harvick, on the other hand, doesn’t think the NASCAR Cup Series has any business racing dirt.

And Kyle Larson doesn’t want windshields.

I have to admit that I’m leaning toward agreeing with Harvick for a number of reasons. The primary one is that these cars aren’t designed for dirt. I understand the attraction of trying to prove that you’ve designed a car that can do anything, but honestly, if you’re going dirt racing, use dirt cars.

The 2022 Bristol Dirt Race required Goodyear to create a custom tire unlike any other tires they make. Teams had to buy and install a special underbody piece made of a different material that could stand up to the dirt rack. Getting rid of the windshield will require additional hours of safety research and additional modifications to each car.

Also:

  • Drivers took three-and-a-half hours (not counting the red flags) to cover a total of 133.25 miles. That’s an average speed of 37.35 mph.
  • Two engines were destroyed in the process.
  • Some of us have to get up early Monday morning. A race that finishes at 11pm is just not doable if you have to be trundling out of bed at six a.m.
  • Add to that the race is on Easter Sunday, which crams one more thing into an already busy day for many people. While it’s nice that the pit crews got the day off, a lot of crew chiefs, mechanics, engineers and PR people who observe Easter didn’t get to spend the day with their families. (Also note that Ramadan and Passover also fall around the same time this year.)

I’d hoped to have a more optimistic 2022 Bristol Dirt Race Report for you, but it is what it is.

Maybe if I’d gotten just a little more sleep…

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