NASCAR Pre-Race Media: Bristol Dirt Track Trends, Race Preview, etc

TRACK: Bristol Motor Speedway (.533 mile oval) DISTANCE: 250 Laps – STAGE 1: 75 Laps, Stage 2: 75 Laps, FINAL STAGE 100 LAPS, 133.25 Miles)

This will be the 2nd ever race on this track so there’s not much history or trends to witness here.

TRACK COMPARISONS

None since this is the only dirt track on the schedule.

Prime Sports NASCAR: Martinsville recap show

Prime Sports NASCAR: Bristol preview show

Favorites

Kyle Larson (+650), Christopher Bell (+800), Joey Logano (+800) and Chase Elliott (+1000) enter this week as the favorites and I can see why. With this being the second dirt race for NASCAR’s Cup Series in several decades, most fans are wanting to know who are the guys to beat on Sunday since last year’s race was hectic. Well, I’d just start with the guys with past dirt experience to begin with.

Larson and Bell are arguably the best there is on dirt tracks right now, Logano won this race last year which is why he dropped from 30-1 to 8-1 and Elliott has been getting his feet wet more and more on dirt.

However, there’s better value to be had in the sleeper category.

Sleepers

Joey Logano had no dirt experience prior to last year but we spent a lot of time before Bristol showing up to dirt tracks to gain it. It paid off. He won. Now, can anyone else do the same this time around?

Martin Truex Jr., Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe and Alex Bowman are all 14-1. Briscoe and Bowman each have a ton of dirt experience and have already won races this season while Truex Jr. won the Truck race a year ago as well as leading 126 laps in this very race too. Reddick, also nabbed a top 10 in last year’s race.

Daniel Suarez (+2000)

Was 4th last year after leading 58 laps and has been a factor in some races this season too.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+2500)

Another dirt guy with these odds too. Worth a go, especially after a runner-up in last year’s race.

Austin Dillon (+5000)

He won a late model race at Bristol last year and has a dirt background to where he’s been very successful at. I like him at these odds for those reasons. Also, he enters having a runner-up finish last Saturday night in Martinsville as well.

Fade

Again, hard telling after one year’s worth of work. A guy 30-1 won last year so this one is hard to figure out this time around again.

Food City Bristol Dirt Race preview

Arguably one of the hardest races to handicap. Sunday marks just the second Cup race on dirt since Sept. 30, 1970. It’s also just the 20th time that they’ve raced on Easter Weekend. However, 17 of them were between 1952-1971, with the last occurring in 1989.

This is also a new car and one that hasn’t raced on dirt before either. With basically throwing all the notes out of the window from years past, you’re going to a dirt track that only had a history of 1 year anyways and that race was run during the day. This one, will run on Easter Night.

Joey Logano (+800) was a 30-1 winner last March in this very race. So far this season, 7 of the 8 races have seen the race winner with double digit odds. We’ve seen a 28-1 (Austin Cindric) and 50-1 (Chase Briscoe) reach victory lane. We’ve also seen 25-1 Ross Chastain in COTA, 18-1 (Alex Bowman) and a pair of 12-1 odds (William Byron twice, Denny Hamlin) triumph too.

So, what do you get Sunday?

We know guys like Kyle Larson (+650), Christopher Bell (+800), Chase Briscoe (+1400) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+2500) come to mind of obvious favorites, but how much can racing another form of vehicle on dirt translate over to a Cup car on dirt?

“The dirt guys, I would say, definitely have an advantage,” Kyle Busch noted. “The more experience you have on dirt, the more trust you have in what the vehicle can do on dirt and what your driving style is or what your driving technique can be and how you can trust the grip level that the dirt has versus what your car has. I think there’s a lot of things that the dirt guys can really pick up on. You always see in those truck races the guys that are good at it, that put some time into it, are better than the ones that are not.”

In saying that, the top six finishers last year had odds entering the race of 30-1 (Logano), 14-1 (Stenhouse Jr.), 25-1 (Hamlin), 100-1 (Suarez), 50-1 (Newman) and 66-1 (Byron). 25-1 Martin Truex Jr. Led the most laps.

So, how much does dirt experience truly play?

While the dirt guys know what the car should feel like from the drivers seat, wresting a Cup car around a half mile race track on dirt is a whole different beast than a Midget.

“I think people look at me with all the experience that I have on dirt as being even more of a favorite,” said Larson. “But these cars are way different than what I typically race on dirt. They don’t drive anything like what I’m used to with a sprint car, midget or now a dirt late model. These cars are way heavier and have a lot less horsepower than I’m used to on a dirt track.”

Food City Bristol Dirt Race key stat

The stage 2 winner won this race last year however, only twice all season has the race winner scored a top 5 finish in the second stage. In fact, it was 5th in Fontana and 2nd last week in Martinsville. The rest of the Stage 2 finishes for the eventual race winners are – 6th (Daytona), 5th (Fontana), did not score (Vegas), 8th (Phoenix), 9th (Atlanta), 8th (COTA) and did not score (Richmond).

Live In Race Betting Trend To Watch

The driver to dominate early more times than not hasn’t won this season. Just 2 times in the first 8 races has the driver who’s led the most laps actually celebrated in victory lane on that day. Furthermore, the race winner really doesn’t tend to come along now until the final stage.

Austin Cindric led 0 laps before Lap 156 at Daytona. All his laps led came in the final stage.

Kyle Larson led 1 lap before Lap 167 in Fontana. Again, all but 1 of his laps led came in the final stage.

Alex Bowman had just 13 laps led before Lap 272 in Vegas.

Chase Briscoe had only led 19 total laps before Lap 230 in Phoenix.

William Byron had only led 20 laps before Lap 143 in Atlanta.

Ross Chastain had no laps led in the first two stages of COTA.

Denny Hamlin had no laps led in the first 395 laps in Richmond.

William Byron led no laps in the first two stages in Martinsville.

That’s 4 races where the winner didn’t even lead a lap in the first two stages and another where they had led just 1 lap.

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