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Kyle Larson Calls On NASCAR To Drop Dirt Races
Kyle Larson joins a growing list of dirt denouncers that incudes champions Kyle Busch and Richard Petty.
Even prior to his catastrophic run-in with Ryan Preece that rendered his Chevrolet Camaro incapable of continuing on at the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, 2021 Cup Series champion Kyle Larson let his feelings be known about racing on dirt — his strong, very ant-dirt feelings.
What has Kyle Larson said about dirt tracks in the NASCAR Cup Series?
When he was asked about whether or not dirt races have a place in future races for the NASCAR Cup Series, Larson echoed a similar sentiment to one he gave last year: no thanks.
"I think we all really enjoy the concrete surface here at Bristol,” Larson revealed to Frontstretch prior to Sunday’s race. “I think the crowd’s typically bigger — it seems like at this point now for the concrete stuff. I don’t know. It’s up to the series and the promoters, but I would love to get back to running two races on the concrete here.”
As a follow-up, Larson was asked, if not Bristol, which track he’d like to be featured as a dirt course. His answer was a curt “none.”
“We don’t need to be racing dirt,” Larson definitively concluded.
How has Kyle Larson done on Bristol’s dirt in the past?
Unlike this year that saw Larson struggle to eke out a 35th-place finish after late-race contact with Preece incapacitated the Hendrick Motorsports wheelman’s No. 1 Chevy, Larson’s done mildly well on Bristol’s dirt course in the past with his performance pendulum swinging dramatically to both ends of the spectrum. While he finished in 29th position in 2021, he landed just outside the top three spots in 2022 behind only Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick and Joey Logano. Prior to his disappointing conclusion Sunday, Larson even won the pole for the Food City Dirt Race Saturday evening. Not too shabby for someone apparently unenthused by dirt.
What did Kyle Larson say about racing on dirt last year?
Still, Larson’s comments over the weekend about Bristol’s dirt track harken back to the stiff condemnation he voiced about it last year — a bit of an oddity, considering he’s won multiple late-model dirt races and is arguably the best Cup Series driver on dirt.
“The way I look at it is, if we’re not going to take the windshields out, then why are we racing on dirt?” Larson questioned last year. “We just shouldn’t race on dirt if we’re not going to take the windshields out and actually have a dirt race. With moisture in the track and being able to produce a real dirt race.
"I feel like we’re just wasting everybody’s time, a little bit. And, not giving the fans and competitors what we all deserve.”
“In my opinion, if we’re not going to take the windshields out, we might as well never put dirt on Bristol again,” continued Larson. “Which, I’m all for not putting dirt on Bristol, whether we have windshields or not. The racing at Bristol’s amazing, just as normal.”
Why is racing on dirt tracks in the Cup Series controversial?
This year’s race on dirt at Bristol is only in its third year since league brass made the switch in 2021, but the notion of NASCAR’s Next Gen car tearing it up on anything other than pavement has emerged as a very polarizing subject in Race World USA.
For one, if it manages to penetrate a vehicle, the messy nature of dirt can wreak havoc on a car’s systems. Dirt in an air filter or radiator might as well be advanced stage vehicular cancer — unfortunately, your ride’s doomed.
Then there’s the dust of it all. Dirt races typically must be held at night because the ensuing dust bowl kicked up into the air would make the race unwatchable during the day. Lastly, the unpredictable nature of dirt is absurd at high speeds, eliminating a lot of skill from the equation. While that can create spontaneous and spectacular finishes like Busch’s victory in 2021 that evolved after co-leaders Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe bumped and spun out, others, like Larson, are vehemently against the Cup Series featuring any dirt races.
“I have to be careful here because I don’t want to annihilate NASCAR on this,” said seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty in October 2021. “But dirt-track racing is not professional, so we’re going backward. It would be like taking a professional football team and going back to play at a high school field.”
“Cut the cord,” declared two-time Cup Series champion Busch. “As Richard Petty says, dirt takes our sport backward.”