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Get All the Dirt: Dirt Racing Terminology, FAQ for Bristol Dirt Race

The NASCAR Cup Series will get to play in the dirt for the first time since 1970, joining the NASCAR Truck Series in this weekend’s events at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The NASCAR Truck Series will hit the Bristol dirt track for the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM). The Cup Series will run the Food City Dirt Race on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX, PRN, SiriusXM).

Before each event, both series will run practice sessions and qualifying heats that will determine the starting lineups for each main event. The lineup for each of the four qualifying heats per series will be determined by random draw.

In order to get you ready for a weekend of action-packed racing on the dirt, we’ve put together a dirt racing glossary that includes terminology you will likely hear on the broadcasts and frequently asked questions.

RELATED: Bristol dirt schedule


Bite: The amount of traction the tread holds in the rear tires, which allows for more grip on the dirt racing surface.

ROSSBURG, OH - JULY 18: Ben Rhodes, driver of the #41 The Carolina Nut Co. Ford, leads a pack of trucks during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway on July 18, 2018 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Bottom feeder: When a driver elects to run the lowest line of the race track during a race.

Cushion: A dirt edge formed when multiple cars run on the top groove of the race track. The “cushion” will move up as cars run a higher line on the track throughout the event. 

Dry or slick track: When the dirt racing surface holds little to no moisture, which results in a dustier surface.

Feathering the throttle: The amount of usage the driver applies on the gas pedal through the corner depending on the availability of grip on the dirt racing surface. The better the car handles through the corner, the more throttle they will be able to apply.

Hopping the cushion: When a car jumps above the dirt edge at the top of the highest racing groove, which will upset the car and cause it to bobble up the track and potentially into the outside wall.

Passing points: The amount of points collected based on how many cars drivers are able to pass during a qualifying heat. Those points will help determine the starting lineup for the main event. These points only count toward determining the starting lineup and will not affect overall championship standings.

ROSSBURG, OH - JULY 18: Tyler Dippel, driver of the #17 Hue Jackson Foundation/Caruso Logistics Toyota, leads a pack of trucks during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway on July 18, 2018 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Qualifying heat: A shorter race that determines where drivers will line up for the main event. In this case, Cup drivers will run four 15-lap heats. As of Monday, the breakdown for the NASCAR Cup Series is 10 cars in qualifying heats 1-3, and nine cars in qualifying heat 4. For the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, it’s 11 trucks in all four qualifying heats.

Slicking off: When the dirt racing surface becomes slicker throughout the course of the race, which gives the track a shiny, gray appearance. 

Slide job: When a driver makes a pass on another driver by diving low and sliding up the race track in front of the opposing car.

Tacky: When the dirt racing surface is wet, which holds moisture and is sticky.

PHOTOS: Bristol dirt transformation in photos


Will there be practice sessions for the Cup Series and Camping World Truck Series?

Yes, there will be a pair of 50-minute practice sessions for each series on Friday. First practice for the Truck Series will occur at 3:05 p.m. ET, with final practice at 5:35 p.m. ET. First practice for the Cup Series will be at 4:05 p.m. ET, with final practice at 6:35 p.m. ET. All practice sessions will air on FS1.

What are the qualifying heat procedures?

Each series will have four 15-lap qualifying races to determine the starting lineup for the main events. The starting lineups for the heats in both series will be determined by random draw, conducted in order of current team owner points standings. Camping World Truck Series qualifying races will be Saturday from 4:30 p.m. ET to 5:30 p.m. ET on FS1. Cup Series qualifying heats will be held from 6 p.m. ET to 7 p.m. ET on FS1.

How will each qualifying heat work?

Field size for each qualifying heat depends on the size of the overall entry list. Only green-flag laps will count. No overtime rule will be in effect, but free-pass and wave-around procedures will remain.

How will the starting lineup for each main event be determined?

The starting lineup will be determined by a formula that weighs finishing position plus positions gained during each heat. Drivers finishing first in their heats earn 10 points, second place earns nine, third place earns eight and so forth. Additionally, drivers earn one passing point for each position gained in their heat; there are no points deductions or “negative points” for drivers who lose positions in their heats. Also, these points are merely used to calculate the starting lineup and do not count toward the championship standings. Ties in these combined points totals will be broken by current team owner points.

Will there be live, competitive pit stops for each race?

Due to safety reasons, there will not be live pit stops under green- or yellow-flag conditions for both series. Teams will not be permitted to change tires, add fuel or work on their vehicles except during the breaks between stages. Exceptions will be made for vehicles involved in incidents. Additionally, teams are not required to pit during stage breaks. Those that elect to stay on the track during stage intermissions will line up ahead of the cars/trucks that pit on the ensuing restart. There will be no race onto or off pit road, using a controlled pit-stop procedure similar to the previous format in Eldora events.

Will caution laps count for the main events?

Yes, as was the case for Eldora Speedway, caution-flag laps will count for both the Cup Series and Camping World Truck Series main events. Only green-flag laps will count for the qualifying heats.

Will there be stages for each race?

Yes. Stages for Sunday‘s Cup Series main event will end at Lap 75, Lap 150, with 250 laps the scheduled full distance. Stage endings for Saturday‘s Truck Series main event are set for Lap 40, Lap 90 and Lap 150. None of the stage lengths are scheduled longer than a full fuel run for either series.

Will there be a Choose Rule for these events?

The choose rule procedure of allowing teams/drivers to pick either the inside or outside line for restarts will not be in effect. The race leader — or “control car” in scoring tower parlance — will still select the inside or outside lane on the front row for restarts, as is the case for all NASCAR national series events. The difficultly of maintaining an orange “V” on the dirt-racing surface was a key determining factor of this decision.