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NASCAR Picks: Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Best Bets, Odds to Consider on DraftKings Sportsbook

Pearce Dietrich gives his top NASCAR bets on DraftKings Sportsbook for the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol, which starts on April 17 at 7:00 p.m. ET.

NASCAR said they would never do it. Mother’s Day and Easter Sunday were off limits. The Mother’s Day promise was broken with the release of the 2020 schedule, and now the Easter off week has ended. The Best Bets article was not off last week. The “Featured Matchup” picks continued to crush going 3-1 at Martinsville.

Enough with the schedule and last week’s victory lap. It’s time to talk dirt and get prepared for Sunday night’s Bristol Dirt Race. Trust the spreadsheet but also trust your eyes. Here are the best bets for the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol, which gets underway Sunday, April 17 at 7:00 p.m. ET.


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Food City Dirt Race Winner

Ross Chastain +3500

This isn’t really a dirt track. There isn’t a cushion. Kyle Larson pointed out earlier this week that the track workers till the top groove to give the illusion that there is a cushion, but he lamented that there can’t be a cushion at a track with this much banking. Basically, this is a slower Bristol. It’s not really a dirt race in a Cup Series car.

If this is a superficial dirt race, then why not pick Chastain? If this is just a high-horsepower, low-downforce race then Chastain should be a favorite. He was one of the best drivers in low-downforce cars last season and is again this season. The Martinsville race exemplifies his development from a JD Motorsports driver finishing 20th in Xfinity Series races to a Cup Series championship contender. Chastain finished fifth last week at the challenging short, flat track where his previous average finish was 28th. Chastain’s 0.77 Real Rating (a statistic that comprehensively synthesizes a driver’s race) ranks fifth this season.

Featured Matchup: Chase Briscoe vs. Daniel Suarez

Chase Briscoe -180

Briscoe is having a better season, but he is juiced up because of the false dirt narrative. No one will be slinging mud on the high groove. The dirt trackers did not have an advantage last season. If anything, they were at a disadvantage because they were willing to experiment with multiple lanes and lean on their past experience. Meanwhile, drivers like Suarez stuck to the faster, bottom groove all race and drove the car straight. Suarez didn’t slide into turns, so he preserved his tires and walked the car around the track inside the top 5 all race. His 201 laps inside the top 5 were the second-most.

The cats out of the bag. Everyone knows how to win this year. The dirt trackers will take it easy and the inexperienced dirt racers no longer have the gift of ignorance. Ultimately, this comes down to whose car has been faster this season. That is an easy answer — Chase Briscoe.


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Featured Matchup: Kyle Larson vs. Christopher Bell

Kyle Larson -125

If this were a true dirt race, then this would be a great debate. It’s not. Bell is good at Bristol — dirt or concrete. Larson is great at Bristol — dirt or concrete. The pick is Larson at every track and every week. This matchup only exists because of the illusion that this is a dirt race. If this were the typical night race at Bristol, then this “Featured Matchup” would not exist, and if it did, the odds would be much more in Larson’s favor.

Here is a thought experiment: Watch last year’s race in black and white. If you can’t see the red clay, then you can see what this race truly was. It was a slow Bristol with spins and random cars colliding with the spinners in what appeared to be slow motion. Dirt track experience provided no discernible advantage because one of those spinners last season was Bell, and the slow motion collider that hit Bell was Kyle Larson. The dirt trackers will not have an edge on Easter evening. This is evidenced by the winners and leaders of last season’s Cup and Truck Series races on the Bristol dirt surface.

Featured Matchup: Martin Truex Jr. vs. Joey Logano

Joey Logano -160

This is a matchup of last year’s Truck Series dirt race winner and the Cup Series dirt race winner. Both were unlikely winners at the time, but after multiple viewings of the race, it’s not much of a surprise. Both were in contention in the Bristol Cup Series dirt race because they are in contention in every high-horsepower, low-downforce race. Bristol went from the fastest half-mile in the world to the slowest. These two drivers have the best stats at short tracks at normal speeds, and at the slower, one-groove version of Bristol — also known as the Bristol dirt track — they were still the fastest.

Logano will get more valuable reps because he is also running the Truck Series race this weekend (so much for the Easter egg hunt with the kids). That’s two truck practices, a truck heat race and the 150-lap truck race on top of his Cup Series reps. That should provide enough of an edge for Logano to outrace Truex on Sunday night.

Featured Matchup: William Byron vs. Alex Bowman

William Byron -120

The best drivers in the 2021 dirt race drove it like a normal Bristol race. They tried to stay as straight as possible and avoided sliding so as to not eat up the tires. The tires that Goodyear brought last season were widely panned and barely held up for the most conscientious drivers. All of this is to say that Alex Bowman’s limited dirt experience does not provide any advantage this weekend.

Byron ran quite a few laps inside the top 5 in this race last season (fourth-most) while Alex Bowman struggled with a car that lost fourth gear. The 2021 Bristol Dirt Race isn’t the reason to play Byron. The reason to pick Byron is the same this week as it will be next week and moving forward. Byron might be the best driver in the Cup Series right now. After a diverse and challenging schedule to start the season, Byron has emerged with the best Real Rating (0.88).

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All betting odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.


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