NASCAR Food City Dirt Race Picks and Predictions

Updated: March 25, 2021

Kyle Larson comes into the Food City Dirt Race sitting second in the Cup Series standings, with a victory and second-place finish in his past three races. Better yet, he’s great on dirt.

Photo By – USA TODAY Sports

Throw all your old NASCAR betting notes away for this weekend’s Food City Dirt Race—you don’t need them.

This Sunday’s race will take place at Bristol Motor Speedway, on the same .533-mile oval as always, but this time, it won’t be on the concrete racing surface. We’re getting dirty instead, with the asphalt being covered in dirt.

How will this change our approach this week? Covers Experts’ Auto Racing Advisor breaks down the field and gives his best free sleeper picks for this weekend’s Food City Dirt Race, with the green flag dropping at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Food City Dirt Race favorites: Larson could hit paydirt

Kyle Larson (+250)

He enters as the hottest driver in the series and is arguably the best driver on dirt overall. Larson won half of his dirt races in a midget last year and is the overall favorite for a reason. 

Christopher Bell (+700)

He’s already won a race this year and is right up there with Larson as a potential favorite. Bell is so good on dirt as well as Bristol in general, so combine both and you get a better value here that’s almost triple Larson’s odds

Austin Dillon (+1,200)

Probably one of the best values in the field. He’s nearly double the odds of Bell but has just as much dirt experience. The thing is, Dillon has run heavier cars on dirt in modified and late models to where Bell and Larson ran midgets. He won a late model race on this very track last week. 

Covers NASCAR Betting Content

Food City Dirt Race long-shot picks: Stenhouse not to be slept on 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+1,300)

He’s phenomenal at Bristol. While he’s never won, he’s racked up several Top 5s, including some runner-ups at that. He’s also had a great dirt background too and is on par with Larson and Bell on this discipline. Mix all together and you get the best sleeper out there. 

Ryan Newman (+5,000)

He’s 50-1 and has dirt background? Newman won championships on dirt in the late 90’s, so why not for this value?

Joey Logano (+3,300)

He doesn’t have much dirt background, but you’re giving me a Team Penske driver with these odds at Bristol in a race where chaos is expected to ensue? Some drivers say that Bristol will be a slick track and look like a race more on Richmond or Martinsville rather than on dirt. Logano, is great at both tracks. Why not here?

Brad Keselowski (+5,000)

For the exact same reasons as above. Why not?

Food City Dirt Race head-to-head pick

Chase Elliott (-115) vs. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-115)
No brainer here. Elliott is just now learning dirt tracks while Stenhouse is a seasoned pro on them. He’s also great at Bristol too. 

PICK: Stenhouse Jr. (-115)

Food City Dirt race preview

Sunday marks the first Cup race on dirt since Sept. 30, 1970. That was a 200-lap race won by Richard Petty on the North Carolina State Fairgrounds racetrack. It was a 23-car field that awarded $1k to the winner.

Now, we’ll get 39 cars on a half-mile dirt track in the heat of the day. That would wreak havoc on things with there maybe not being enough moisture in the racing surface as a result. Plus, 40 cars that weigh over 3,400 pounds going a long 250 laps could also make for some interesting moments.

Lapped traffic is going to be key and, as a result, may not give guys with a dirt racing background like Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as much of an advantage as we’d like to think.

We’ve had six races run in 2021 and six different winners. Some of those winners are shockers. No one saw Michael McDowell winning the Daytona 500 and taking a playoff spot by virtue of that. Then, you get guys like Christopher Bell and William Byron winning already. I think most saw them are back-end fringe playoff guys that may have had to take a wild-card berth into the postseason. Instead, they have guaranteed spots.

Bristol could produce another unlikely winner. What happens when we still have 19 races left in the regular season with seven of them are either on road courses or superspeedways? You have the potential for several more wild-card winners like McDowell, Bell and Byron ahead.

That’s why Bristol also has a big focus on the playoff picture as well.

Food City Dirt Race key stat

Not much for stats for this weekend since we’ve never raced on the Bristol dirt track before and NASCAR hasn’t held a dirt race in over 50 years. So, let’s go with this: We’ve had 6 different races run this season with 6 different winners. Does that streak extend for Sunday? Trends say yes. 

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