It's Bettors Beware for Sunday's Dirt Race at Bristol

It's Bettors Beware for Sunday's Dirt Race at Bristol
© USA Today

A fitting slogan for those looking to wager on Sunday’s Bristol race would be “bettors beware.”

It doesn’t get more difficult to handicap an event than this weekend’s dirt race at Bristol.

Not only has no one outside the NASCAR circle seen what the new NextGen car looks like on dirt, but it’s also just the second dirt race in recent Cup Series history. The unpredictable nature of the event calls for a smaller unit size for any NASCAR betting plays made this weekend.

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One of the main prognostications in last year’s dirt race was how likely those with dirt experience would thrive. Except that wasn’t the case.

Joey Logano, who had next to no dirt background in his racing career, wound up winning. Three of the top four finishers didn’t have much dirt experience, with Denny Hamlin taking third and Daniel Suarez finishing fourth.

A key difference in this year’s race is the time and day it’s taking place. Last year, an abundance of rain forced the race to be pushed back to Monday during the day. Sunday’s race is scheduled for a 7 p.m. ET start, which will create different track conditions than a year ago.

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Who is This Year’s Favorite?

Kyle Larson at +550 on DraftKings

Kyle Larson might be the best dirt racer in the world. In 2021 he won some of the biggest dirt races, including the Chili Bowl Nationals, Prairie Dirt Classic, Kings Royal and Knoxville Nationals.

Dirt was an integral part of the start of his racing career in the sprint and midget series, so it’s no surprise to see him listed by DraftKings Sportsbook as the favorite.

Don’t let the 29th-place finish in last year’s dirt race fool you. It was not because of pace. Larson was caught up in two crashes which severely hampered his car and kept him from competing.

In total, there were six multi-car crashes in last year’s dirt race and a 10-car pileup that limited the number of contenders. The crash volatility in this race that Larson was caught up in is just another reason this race is so unpredictable.

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Best Bet

Martin Truex Jr. to Win +1400 FanDuel

While Logano won last year’s race, the star of the first Bristol dirt weekend was Martin Truex Jr., who led the most laps in both the Cup and Truck Series races.

Truex Jr. was victorious in the Truck race and looked for much of the Cup race as if he’d make it a weekend sweep, leading a race-high 126 laps.

But a flat tire in the overtime session relegated him to a 19th-place finish for what was likely to be a Top 5 finish.

With few data points to go off for this race, I’ll take a flier on Truex Jr. at this number at FanDuel Sportsbook given his performance over the entire weekend at the previous Bristol dirt race.

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