BRISTOL, Tenn. — NASCAR feverishly tried to save its ballyhooed first Cup Series dirt race since 1970 from turning into a total disaster, the likes not seen since the 2008 tire debacle at Indianapolis made for one of the worst events in the sport’s history.

The Cup Series is slated to race Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway, where 2,300 truckloads of red Tennessee clay have filled the famed bullring for an experimental — some might allege gimmick — stab at grassroots racing.

But the dirt, the 28-degree Bristol banking and the leaden 3,400-pound cars appear to be a terrible fit.

Yes, drivers had a blast playing in the dirt, some for the first time since they were kids. But four Friday practice sessions ultimately showed the tires can’t

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