No dirt on Bristol: NASCAR will race only on concrete at Tennessee short track in 2024

Bristol Herald Courier photo by David Crigger via AP / NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch practices on the temporary dirt surface at Tennessee's Bristol Motor Speedway in March 2021.

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Bristol Motor Speedway is ditching the dirt.

The Tennessee short track that has used a dirt surface the last three years for its NASCAR races in the spring will run both NASCAR weekends in 2024 on its traditional concrete surface.

The announcement came Friday, a day before Bristol hosts its annual night race in the Cup Series playoffs. It's the third and final event of the opening round of the postseason, and the field of 16 contenders will be cut to 12 drivers afterward and with seven races remaining to determine this year's Cup Series champion.

In 2021, Bristol covered the high-banked, .0533-mile bullring in red clay for its spring visits from the top-tier Cup Series and the third-tier Truck Series in hopes of freshening the NASCAR schedule and boosting both attendance and television ratings at a venue once considered hallowed racing ground.

NASCAR had last run a national series event on dirt in 1970, so the first year of Bristol's dirt races drew plenty of attention and excitement. Even so, all editions of the dirt races were met with mixed reviews and the novelty wore off. The racing was subpar, and after three years, drivers were tired of the gimmick.

Jerry Caldwell, the venue's president and general manager, did not reveal the track's two Cup Series dates for 2024 but confirmed neither of the races will be on dirt.

The spring race, he said, will harken back to Bristol's 1990s halcyon days, when the track was one of the toughest tickets in sports. Bristol boasted a 55-race sellout streak from 1982 through 2010.

In a statement released by the track on Friday, Caldwell said of the return to concrete next spring: "We will revive a logo reminiscent of the first Food City 500s in the early '90s and resurrect the track's vintage trademark look and feel of the era."