What’s the point?
That’s the tone defending NASCAR Cup Series champion and dirt racing ace Kyle Larson put forth Wednesday when he addressed this weekend’s second annual dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Larson expressed his disappointment that NASCAR had decided not to replace the windshields in the race cars with an alternative barrier, including a screen.
Last week, NASCAR conducted a test on the temporary dirt track with Stewart Friesen exploring ways to improve visibility in the dirt race after that was a prominent issue during last year’s inaugural Bristol dirt race.
“I guess the way I look at it is if we’re not going to take the windshield out then why are we racing on dirt?” Larson said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We just shouldn’t race on dirt if we’re not going to take the windshield out and actually have a dirt race with moisture in the track and you’ll be able to produce a real dirt race.”
The Hendrick Motorsports driver feels “we’re just wasting everybody’s time a little bit” without an alternative.
“In my opinion, if we’re not gonna take the windshields out, we might as well just never put dirt on Bristol again,” Larson said. “Which I’m all for not putting dirt on Bristol, whether we have windshields or not, I think the racing at Bristol’s amazing just as normal.”
Larson hopes that if a third Bristol dirt race weekend happens in 2023, NASCAR will get “a head start” on a designing an alternative to the windshield, given how late it appears NASCAR tried anything out this time around.
“Weld in bars or do something like late models that I run,” Larson said. “We don’t have windshield but we have these massive bars that are welded-in in front of us that is kind of like a rock screen. There is not a spindle or heavy piece of car that’s going to come through that. It is extremely heavy duty and I don’t see why we couldn’t weld in something like that or clamp in bars that are temporary, whatever it may be. I definitely think there’s way to run the windshield. I understand the safety side of NASCAR and why they don’t (want to take out the windshields), our race cars are really safe. But like I said, you’re not going to have a true dirt race with windshields. So I feel like it’s just kind of kind of lame.”
TUNE IN ALERT: An outspoken Kyle Larson questions #NASCAR’s decision to use windshields in the #FoodCityDirtRace at @BMSupdates.— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) April 13, 2022
Hear his comments in FULL tonight at 8:30 PM ET on #DialedIn w/ @ClaireBLang. pic.twitter.com/OAxXW21bVd
Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, shared NASCAR’s view on why it didn’t move forward with removing the windshield after last week’s test, citing the safety issue Larson addressed.
“Some of the drivers with a lot of dirt-track experience you know, we were urged to try some things like that, the windshield out, things they’re more used to driving, you know dirt specific race cars,” Miller said. “There was certainly some some potential benefits to that. But at the end of the day, the windshield is a critical safety component of our cars. It’s a very highly developed laminate that is really resistant to any kind of intrusion of foreign objects or anything like that. So, we decided until we can further vet out the possibility of not using a windshield that we had to kind of stick with our safety element and what we’ve been doing.
“We’ve been racing trucks on dirt for a long time and the windshields have been in and yes, there have been a few visibility problems and things over the course of those races, but really nothing that was a big enough problem for us to kind of just eliminate a safety feature without spending more and more time, vetting all of that and getting that right.”
ICYMI: @NASCAR SVP Scott Miller, joined #TMDNASCAR and confirmed there will be a @GoodyearRacing tire test later this season at @MartinsvilleSwy to address the challenges from this past weekend. @TheMikeBagley | @PPistone | #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/HOTrp1lfnb— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) April 13, 2022
One Cup Series crew chief agrees with NASCAR’s decision.
Matt McCall, who works on Brad Keselowski’s No. 6 Ford at RFK Racing, endorsed the move, expressing the sport’s desire to not have to build extra cars in the Next Gen era.
“We’re trying to take a car we run on asphalt every single week,” McCall said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “To me the windshield being in is the right thing to do. … I guess they that had a modified on the track with one car and the inside of it was really, really bad. Our car’s not designed to take the windshield out I guess is the easiest way to put it. So I think from a safety standpoint, obviously there’s a lot of unknowns there, too. So I think the easiest thing to do is what we’re doing today, leave the windshields in.”