In a nod to the sport’s short-track heritage, heat races will set the field for Saturday’s Fitzgerald Glider Parts 300 Xfinity Series race.
The fastest qualifier will start from the pole for the race, which will begin at 12:30 p.m. The Bristol race is the first of four Dash 4 Cash races, continuing April 23 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and going through Dover (Del.) International Speedway on May 14 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 23. The top-two Xfinity title-eligible drivers in each heat will be the Dash 4 Cash drivers for Bristol’s race.
▪ Bristol’s “Colossus” – the world’s largest outdoor center-hung, four-sided video screen/scoreboard – is in place. It weighs 700 tons and is suspended by cables attached to towers outside of the track. The scoreboard was built for September’s college football game between Tennessee and Virginia Tech at the speedway.
▪ Dale Earnhardt Jr. unveiled two paint schemes for his No. 88 Chevy for races this season: one a flashy, orange-and-yellow design for the Kansas race in May, the other a more subtle scheme in honor of a NASCAR legend for the Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C., in September.
Earnhardt drove the orange-and-yellow car (sponsored by Axalta Coating Systems and CARSTAR North America) around uptown Charlotte on Wednesday. Tuesday at Darlington, he revealed a Nationwide Insurance-sponsored car resembling the “Gray Ghost,” the car made famous by Buddy Baker, who died last year.
Recently retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, who also is a Nationwide pitchman, will serve as an honorary official for Sunday’s race and will sit on Earnhardt’s pit box.
▪ Todd Gilliland can make history Saturday at Bristol, when he will go for his fifth consecutive NASCAR K&N Pro Series victory. Gilliland, 15, has won his first four starts in the series – three times this season (at Irwindale, Calif., Bakersfield, Calif., and New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) and once in 2015 (Phoenix).
Gilliland, who is from Sherrills Ford and whose dad is Cup driver David Gilliland, is one four drivers to win his first four K&N starts. The list he joins is impressive: Dan Gurney, Joey Logano and Tim Flock.
▪ Red Horse Racing has parted ways with driver Ben Kennedy, who had an agreement with the team for the first three Truck Series races of the season. Kennedy’s best finish was 11th at Martinsville, Va., two weeks ago.
▪ Charlotte Motor Speedway announced a “Mega Pass” program for May’s 10 days of racing at the track. The pass will allow fans to receive a ticket autographed by four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon or other drivers. The Mega Pass starts at $199 and will allow fans entry to every event at the track from All-Star weekend through the Coca-Cola 600 (May 20-29).