Easter weekend ends with an exclamation point of 250 laps around the bullring of Bristol, this time on dirt. Let’s dive into our expert NASCAR picks this week and go over a few options for the outright market, positional selections and best NASCAR bets and predictions for the Food City Dirt Race on Sunday, April 17.
Expert NASCAR Picks & Predictions: Food City Dirt Race
Ross Chastain +2200 to win
If there was a lesson to be gained from last year’s race it was oddly enough that having dirt experience was almost an impediment. Go back to last year’s race and look at how the field shuffled out. The dirt wringers brought in to lift up the underfunded squads (Mike Marlar, Chris Windom, Shane Golobic) either all wrecked out or finished several laps down. The lone bright spot ended up being Stewart Friesen, who finished his day a lap down in 22nd position but had experience under his belt after running in the Trucks race earlier that day.
The Cup drivers with dirt experience did not fare so well either. Christopher Bell managed to wreck out on lap 54, collecting Kyle Larson in the process and putting him several laps down. Despite running well in the Trucks race earlier that day, Chase Briscoe was only able to manage a 20th-place finish, finishing a lap down. Tyler Reddick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were the lone bright spots for the dirt crowd with respective finishes of seventh and second.
On the flip side, the crowd that shined through seemed to be the drivers with little or no dirt experience including Martin Truex Jr., who led the most laps that day despite his only dirt experience coming in the Trucks race earlier that day. Joey Logano ended up winning that day, but only started learning how to drive on dirt earlier in the year.
The easiest line to draw from that race was that the fewer assumptions someone had about the way the track would race, the better they would do. Perhaps the dirt racers had years and years of experience and knowledge guiding a particular style they anticipated the track to have or at least start to race like. The asphalt drivers just had to sit on the seat of their pants learning with each corner and be open to the learning process, lap after grueling lap.
Should last year’s scenario play out again, Ross Chastain shines as a driver who should be able to capitalize on a continually fast car, despite his background coming from asphalt. He has the ability to handle a loose car, especially on a track that could make the vehicle even looser. Outside of his 18th-place finish at Richmond, Chastain has brought his #1 car across the line in fifth or better in five of the past six events. Look for this trend to continue, especially in lieu of everything that was learned from teammate Daniel Suarez, who led 58 laps and finished fourth a year ago in this event. For those not bullish on Chastain outright, BetMGM is offering +310 on his top-five odds and -160 for his chances to finish in the top 10.
A Word on the Dirt Wringers
The go-to move a lot of casual bettors are going to make is betting the likes of Larson (+450), Bell (+800), Briscoe (+1400), etc., due to their perceived advantage of racing on dirt as opposed to these drivers who have primarily spend time on asphalt. While this makes too much sense not to be applicable, even Larson recently stated how his dirt background could not prepare him for this race. “There’s really no way to get prepared, even if I ran 300 dirt races a year, it’s nowhere close to the same thing. We have no idea what to expect,” he said. This said, with two practice sessions on Friday, this story could easily get turned around as the near two hours of track time gives the drivers familiar with dirt the advantage they need, instead of learning it on the fly like last year. If the wringers are on the top of the charts in both sessions, then adjust the ranks.
Food City Dirt Race Best Bets, Parlays & NASCAR Predictions
The following is an interesting list of bets being offered for Sunday’s race at Bristol:
- Featured Matchup: Joey Logano -145 over Martin Truex Jr.
- Featured Matchup: William Byron -125 over Alex Bowman
- Austin Dillon: Top three +1000
- Ty Dillon: Top 10 +350
- Team of Winning Car: Richard Childress Racing +1200
This week’s list is slim, as BetMGM has scaled back its offerings in lieu of this peculiar event.