The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol slate locks at 7:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Kyle Larson ($11,200) — This is not a dirt race. Maybe, they fixed the track, but when it comes to fixes, Bruton Smith only makes tracks worse (Kentucky, Texas and the multiple versions of Bristol). That being said, Larson is just as good on concrete as he is on dirt.
2. William Byron ($10,000) — Not only is he the best driver this season with a 0.88 Real Rating (a statistic that comprehensively synthesizes a driver’s race), but he was one of the best drivers at this event last season.
3. Ryan Blaney ($9,400) — Forget about dirt, Blaney is tied with William Byron for the highest Real Rating this season. No matter where the No. 12 Penske Ford unloads, it is fast. Plate track, short track, intermediate track, road course, high-wear or no-wear surface — Blaney is fast.
4. Denny Hamlin ($8,700) — This is yet another example of why Bristol is not a dirt race. Hamlin did not prepare at all for last season’s race. He didn’t buy a late model and race at dirt tracks in Alabama on weeknights. He went in with a whatever attitude and nearly won the race.
5. Ross Chastain ($8,500) — Fast cars won at Bristol last season, not the best dirt track racers. Chastain has a fast car and is stepping up at every track this season, and many of those tracks were problems for him in the past. Quasi-dirt should not be a challenge.
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6. Joey Logano ($10,600) — This is a double-duty weekend for Logano. He has chosen the extra load to get extra reps in order to defend his dirt racing title. Last year’s success looks good along with the extra reps, but one can’t help but feel that Logano got lucky last season.
7. Martin Truex Jr ($9,600) — Before the Bristol race, no one would have imagined that Truex — a driver with no dirt racing experience — would nearly sweep the weekend. In retrospect, knowing what we know now about this fugazi of a dirt track, it’s not that surprising and Truex can do it again.
8. Kyle Busch ($9,000) — One advantage at the Bristol dirt track is apathy. Busch hates that NASCAR changed this track and does not care about this race. That combined with his already aggressive style make him a real threat to terrorize the field on Sunday night.
9. Tyler Reddick ($9,200) — Anything is possible. While a Reddick win might seem rare, it’s not impossible. However, the possibility that the Bristol track workers fix this dirt track is very unlikely. Anything is possible, and if Bristol somehow becomes a real dirt track, then Reddick jumps to the top of the list.
10. Chase Briscoe ($9,800) — Here is the lie we can tell ourselves: It’s a night race and the track has not been beaten to a pulp all week. This could be a fun dirt race. If that’s the case, Briscoe’s combination of current form and dirt experience make him an elite option on Easter evening.
11. Chase Elliott ($10,300) — Maybe it was because last year’s broadcast was nothing more than a giant cloud of dust, but it didn’t seem like Elliott was ever around. He wasn’t in the top 5 much, but he recorded the seventh-most top-10 laps at Bristol.
12. Alex Bowman ($8,900) — Over the last couple off seasons, Bowman has journeyed to Tulsa, Oklahoma in the winter to participate in the Chili Bowl. In this premiere dirt race event, Bowman has done squat. In his defense, he’s competing against the best in the world, and they race on dirt every week.
13. Austin Dillon ($7,400) — Will double-duty Dillon be a contender on Easter? Double-duty Daniel Suarez nearly won the Cup Series Bristol Dirt Race last season.
14. Kevin Harvick ($8,100) — Does running the truck race help? It didn’t seem to help Harvick last season, so he’s not racing a truck this weekend. Seems like it didn’t help him, but it may have helped others.
15. Bubba Wallace ($7,500) — Way back in 2014, Bubba Wallace won the second NASCAR Truck Series race at Tony Stewart’s dirt track in Rossburg, Ohio, Eldora Speedway. Wallace replicated that dirt success last year until he suffered damage on lap 215 and dropped from eighth to 28th.
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