Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: A Bristol Race Unlike Any Other

On Saturday (March 16), the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will join the NASCAR Cup Series once again for its spring trip to Bristol Motor Speedway.

The catch this time? No dirt.

For the first time since 2020, the Cup Series will contest its spring race on the concrete. A subject of debate as to whether or not the dirt race should stay or go, NASCAR made the decision to have no dirt race for 2024, and the concrete will return. Here’s to hoping fans put their money where their mouth is this weekend.

But would you believe me if I told you that, for the first time ever, the Truck Series will race on the concrete in the spring?

See also
Entry List: 2024 Weather Guard Truck Race

Bristol has been a part of the Truck Series schedule since the series’ inception in 1995. The series did not compete at The Last Great Colosseum from 2000 to 2002, but ever since, it has traveled with the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Cup Series for the iconic summer night races that essentially round out the summer stretch for all three series.

For the Truck Series, it was the only trip to Bristol each year; as such, a tradition was born in that its summer/fall race takes place on a Thursday night, currently the only race across NASCAR’s premier series that isn’t originally scheduled to take place on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

Much like the Cup Series, the Truck Series night race has provided some highlight reel-worthy moments, such as Kyle Busch‘s first leg of his historic weekend sweep in 2010, Busch vs. Timothy Peters in 2013 and Ben Kennedy vs. Matt Tifft in 2016. It’s also provided several first time Truck winners, including Kennedy, Brad Keselowski, Sam Mayer, Chandler Smith and Ty Majeski.

Meanwhile, for the spring race, the Cup Series was usually accompanied by the Xfinity Series while the Truckers had the week off.

That is, until 2021, when the introduction of dirt shook things up.

The Truck Series was added as a support race for the dirt race back in 2021 and competed all three years on the half-mile dirt track. It was the first time the Truck Series had two Bristol races in a year. Meanwhile, the Xfinity Series got the week off.

Now, with the 2024 spring race moving back to the concrete, the Truck Series will remain as the support series, marking the first time the Truck Series will compete at Bristol proper twice in one season.

See also
Here's Who's Performing & Appearing at Bristol

One would think this has no effect on how the Truck Series races. But, it kind of does.

The first major difference between the spring and fall race will be the track temperature. Saturday’s race will take place in the colder spring weather, whereas the fall race is in the heat. The difference in track temperature will arguably make the trucks drive differently.

Secondly, Saturday’s race is just 150 laps, while the fall race is 200 laps. A shorter race distance will certainly raise the aggression levels a little bit (like the Truck Series needs any more chaos in its racing, right?). Stages are shorter in turn, and one would think strategy will take a different form in this race than it has/will in the fall.

Finally, this race is much more important than most probably realize. The fall Bristol race is the second race of the opening round of the playoffs this season. While the track temperature and shorter race makes this race different still from the fall race, any notes that can be taken that can translate into a great fall race will benefit playoff hopefuls.

So, for many drivers and crews, Saturday’s race is one that could serve as a test to see what can work and what won’t for the fall race. Specifically, the drivers who already have punched their ticket to the playoffs — Nick Sanchez and Rajah Caruth — can rest easy and try things out to prepare for the fall edition: the Bristol race that matters the most to them.

So, who would be the favorites for the race on Saturday, even though the Truckers are going in somewhat blind to the event?

The most recent Bristol winner was Corey Heim, who also won the truck race at Martinsville Speedway last year. Heim and his TRICON Garage No. 11 have established themselves as one of the best in the garage, and it’s clear that Heim is a threat on the short tracks. He might be one to watch.

See also
Tyler Ankrum Picks Up Ullico Sponsorship

However, Christian Eckes was the dominant truck at Bristol last year, only losing to Heim in the final laps. For his team, McAnally-Hilgemann Racing, its rapid expansion in the offseason, along with maintained success at the front to begin 2024, means that you could draw one of its four drivers’ names out of a hat and they would be a threat for the win.

Plus, you can’t forget the Spire Motorsports camp, who has won every race to begin the season if you include its satellite team in Rev Racing with Sanchez. Atlanta Motor Speedway winner Busch will return behind the wheel of the No. 7, so he could easily take it to the truck regulars again.

Of course, ThorSport Racing has won the last two spring races at Bristol (albeit on dirt) with Ben Rhodes in 2022 and Joey Logano in the part-time No. 66 in 2023, as well as Majeski’s first career win in the fall 2022 race. Can’t count the Sandusky, Ohio-based team out either.

So really, it’s anyone’s guess at who could come out on top Saturday. The only way to find out is to tune in.

And wouldn’t you know it, this race will feature a full 36-truck field for the first time since the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Coverage for the Weather Guard Truck Race will begin Saturday, March 16 at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.

Truckin’ Tidbits

  • TRICON made two very unique additions to its driver roster of the all-star No. 1 truck. Sports Car and open wheel veteran Jack Hawksworth will attempt his debut at Circuit of the Americas, while CARS Tour driver and short track ace Brenden Queen will attempt his truck debut at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
  • Luke Fenhaus will attempt his Truck Series debut later this year with Thorsport at a race yet to be announced. According to a press release by ThorSport, Soda Sense will sponsor Majeski as it continues its partnership with the team in 2024. The press release also included the debut of Fenhaus in the Truck Series. The truck number was not yet announced for Fenhaus.
  • Two drivers will make their season debuts at Bristol, both driving for family-owned teams. Trey Hutchens returns to the No. 14 while Justin Carroll returns to his No. 90.

About the author

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via