NASCAR was slammed by Denny Hamlin’s spotter, Chris Lambert, for running a Cup Series race on Easter Sunday, something that hasn’t happened in decades.
NASCAR hasn’t been shy about shaking up the Cup Series schedule in recent years, whether that be by adding new venues, removing old venues, running doubleheaders, using different track layouts, testing different start times, or simply switching up calendar slots.
One such change introduced last year was the transformation of Bristol Motor Speedway to a dirt track for the spring race at the four-turn, 0.533-mile (0.858-kilometer) oval in Bristol, Tennessee.
This year, a further change was implemented to the spring Bristol race, and it is one that has led to quite a bit of criticism from fans and those within the sport alike.
There is just one off weekend on this year’s schedule from the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, which was contested on Sunday, February 20, until the championship-deciding race at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, November 6.
That off weekend is Father’s Day weekend, not Easter weekend.
The Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway is the ninth of 36 races on this year’s schedule, and it is scheduled to take place on Easter Sunday.
Easter is, of course, the Christian holiday which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his Crucifixion. As such, it is a holiday on which NASCAR has not competed since 1989, and the only reason that race happened at Richmond Raceway is because it was postponed from February due to snow.
Prior to 1989, no Cup Series race had been contested on Easter Sunday since 1970 — more than five decades ago. Even without including Easter Sunday, there hasn’t even been a race on Easter weekend since the 1985 season. Before then, it hadn’t happened since the 1971 season.
While NASCAR has their reasons (they always do, don’t they?) for why this somewhat baffling change could be considered the right move, many individuals within the sport aren’t having any of it, and you can hardly blame them.
Chris Lambert, the spotter for the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin, had his say on the matter on Twitter earlier this week, publicly stating that there is “zero reason” whatsoever for the sport to be running an event on the religious holiday.
He wasn’t the only one to make a comment of this nature, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. shared his disapproval of the decision in a recent episode of Dirty Mo Media’s Door, Bumper, Clear podcast.
Nevertheless, here we are, set to end a drought of more than five decades without a scheduled race on Easter Sunday. The Food City Dirt Race is set to be broadcast live on Fox from Bristol Motor Speedway beginning at 7:00 pm ET this evening. If you still plan to watch, be sure to begin your free trial of FuboTV now!