Food City Dirt Race 2021 Odds, Picks & Betting Preview
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For the first time since Richard Petty won at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in 1970, NASCAR’s top series will compete on a dirt surface in Sunday’s Food City Dirt Race. That means bettors could see their options considerably narrowed this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, given how few Cup Series regulars have any real experience on anything other than asphalt.
Ironically, after the season’s first six races produced six different winners, all of them paying +1000 or more, this gimmicky dirt event could give us our first repeat winner of the year — and at a markedly lower value. Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell have far and away the most dirt expertise in the Cup field, and Sunday at Bristol could absolutely turn into a duel between those two while everyone else tries to keep it out of the wall.
Can you sense that we’re not exactly brimming with enthusiasm for this event from a NASCAR betting perspective? Sure, it sounds fun in theory. But in reality, we might get a long, complicated, uncompetitive race with only a handful of legitimate contenders to win. We might have to wait until April 10 at Martinsville to get the kind of value-laden winners that bettors have come to expect from this NASCAR season.
2021 Food City Dirt Race Odds
|Driver||Win||Top 3||Top 10|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||+1600||+550||+110|
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Food City Dirt Race Predictions & Betting Tips
Kyle Larson +250 to Win
Christopher Bell +230 Top 3
Larson and Bell are such clear favorites, it makes sense this week to place wagers on both. Their dirt records are just ridiculous — Larson has won the past two Chili Bowl Nationals (the Daytona 500 of dirt racing) and won the Eldora Truck race in 2016. Bell has won everything on dirt: World of Outlaws, super late models, three straight Chili Bowls from 2017-19, 26 dirt races in 2014 alone.
Yes, half-mile, high-banked Bristol is very different from the quarter-mile dirt track at the Tulsa Expo Center that hosts the Chili Bowl. But so is the experience that Larson and Bell have over the rest of the field, evident in the odds gulf between them and the rest of the field.
For more great expert NASCAR picks for the Food City Dirt Race from our team of handicappers, check out bookiesEDGE:
Food City Dirt Race Betting Tips
In more ways than just the track surface, this will be a totally different NASCAR Cup Series event than bettors are accustomed to. There will be no live pit stops under yellow or green conditions, only in breaks between the three stages. Dirt tracks can get very slick, and the cars produce a buildup of dirt toward the top of the track called a “cushion” that effectively becomes a hard curb all the way around the outside wall.
There will be two practice sessions and four 15-lap qualifying events to set the starting field, so bettors willing to be patient could get some idea of who the strongest drivers are. This additional track time has been largely eliminated since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Outside of Larson and Bell, drivers worth considering include past winners of the NASCAR Truck race at Eldora — Austin Dillon, Bubba Wallace, Chase Briscoe and Stewart Friesen, making his Cup series debut — but those drivers aren’t in consistently wining Cup equipment.
Who else? Ryan Newman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. have extensive dirt experience, Kyle Busch has won a super late model race at Eldora and Chase Elliott has dabbled in dirt as of late. But 250 laps, Sunday’s distance, is a lot for a dirt race. And there will be a lot of dirt neophytes in the field — so be sure to back drivers who are capable of not just getting up front, but also staying there.
Food City Dirt Race Time, Date & TV
When:: Sunday, March 28, 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tenn.