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This weekend marks NASCAR’s return to Bristol Motor Speedway and to the spring race being held on concrete. It is the first time in three years the Bristol “dirt race” isn’t on the Cup Series schedule. And the sport is better off for it.

NASCAR and Bristol opted to convert the half-mile, sharply banked short track into a dirt oval for the spring race beginning in 2021. It marked the first time in over 50 years a race in the sport’s top series was contested on dirt. It was certainly an exciting prospect for fans at the time. However, that 2021 race proved somewhat prophetic — the excitement couldn’t match the novelty.

The race was marred by consistent issues with the dirt mixed with wet weather. The delay kept getting pushed back due to track drying issues. There was also extreme slinging of mud, and not in a fun wow-look-at-that-kind-of-way. More of a, “This is a disaster” feel. The race went on (relatively) without a hitch once the track was ready, and there was some excitement served as Cup drivers contended with an entirely different form of stock car racing. But that was the most endearing aspect of the event.

Fans were then treated to a fantastic finish in the Bristol dirt race’s second year, 2022. Chase Briscoe and Tyler Reddick clashed on the final lap and both spun out, handing the win to Kyle Busch when Reddick’s recovery wasn’t quite speedy enough to take the checkered first. But otherwise, the race wasn’t very stimulating. And an exciting finish doesn’t necessarily make for a “good” race.

NASCAR driver Kyle Busch waving wearing large polarized sunglasses
NASCAR driver Kyle Busch | James Gilbert via Getty Images

The 2023 event effectively served as the race’s nail in the coffin. It wasn’t particularly exciting. But even more so, the novelty was gone. There were grumblings that NASCAR had taken a track in which excitement is practically guaranteed and effectively put a dirt muzzle on it. I was among those making murmurs.

Bristol has served up some of the most iconic races in NASCAR’s history, and its high-speed, short track layout is a novelty unto itself. There have been issues with car packages over the years, leading to some rather disappointing races. But the dirt setup at Bristol effectively guaranteed a rather disappointing race.

I am glad NASCAR and/or Bristol decided to pull the plug on the experiment. It is to be commended, but the results were lackluster. If NASCAR wants to go dirt racing, let’s do it on a track built for such purposes, or get some novelty by making it “The Clash.” But Bristol doesn’t need some added amenity to sell itself.

Although, NASCAR’s recent wet weather test at the short track, Cup teams will have defoggers and wet weather tires on Sunday. I’m all for that. Let mother nature decide if we need added novelty at Bristol.