NASCAR’s Bristol dirt experiment continues on Sunday.
The Cup Series will race for the second time at a Bristol Motor Speedway covered in dirt this weekend (7 p.m. ET, Fox). The first race a season ago was won by Joey Logano and the novelty and weather led to a couple of hitches. The race was delayed to Monday due to rain and NASCAR had to implement single-file restarts because drivers couldn’t see behind each other.
It was full of cautions too. Over 15% of the race was run under caution as there were 10 cautions over the 253-lap race.
The 2021 race was the first Cup Series race was the first in NASCAR’s modern era and the first Cup Series race on something other than pavement since 1971. This year’s first involves the date. NASCAR hadn’t scheduled a race on Easter Sunday since 1970.
Like last year, heat races will decide the starting order for the race. Teams will practice on Friday and get acclimated to the dirt with their new cars. Four heat races will be contested on Friday with nine cars in each one. The starting order will be determined via those heat races with the winner of the first heat race starting first and the second place car in that race starting fifth on Sunday.
Here are your favorites and a couple of drivers to consider on Sunday night. All odds are from BetMGM.
Kyle Larson (+450)
Christopher Bell (+800)
Joey Logano (+900)
Chase Elliott (+1200)
Denny Hamlin (+1200)
It’s entirely unsurprising that Larson is the favorite. He’s the defending Cup champion and a dirt ace. He didn’t lead a lap a year ago, however. He got caught in a wreck in the first stage. Bell is fantastic on dirt, too. That’s why he’s the No. 2 favorite. Logano won this race in 2021 while Elliott finished 10th and Hamlin was third.
Good mid-tier value
Reddick was seventh after starting 27th. He had the lowest starting position of any driver who finished in the top 10 last spring. Stenhouse finished second and is also a very good dirt racer. Any equipment disadvantage that he typically has on normal Cup Series tracks will be eliminated this weekend. This is the time to use him in a driver pool or fantasy racing game.
Don’t bet this driver
Suarez was fourth in 2021 and led 58 laps. However, we think that effort won’t be replicated this season. Suarez may even get outrun by Trackhouse teammate Ross Chastain.
Looking for a long shot?
Buescher was 14th in 2021 after starting 11th. He likely won’t win, but don’t be surprised if he ends up in the top 10.