NASCAR DFS:  Food City Dirt Race

NASCAR DFS: Food City Dirt Race

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

Food City Dirt Race

Location: Bristol, Tenn.
Course: Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track
Format: 0.5-mile dirt oval
Laps: 250

NASCAR Food City Dirt Race Race Preview

Short-track racing continues for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this week with a twist. One week after Kyle Larson landed his first victory of the 2023 season on the short oval at Richmond the series now focuses on the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track for the third time since the unique event joined the calendar. This is the second stop in a three-week string of short-track racing before Martinsville gets its time in the limelight next weekend. Joey Logano and Kyle Busch captured the first two Bristol dirt races, keeping dirt specialist drivers like Larson and Christopher Bell out of Victory Lane the first two times, but that could change in 2023. After some teething issues the first two years getting the fickle surface just right the race has been shifted to the evening. The cooler evening temperatures should help remedy the problems the dirt surface experienced in past years, and that subtle change could make this the first time the dirt specialists get to flex their muscle. 

The weekend starts with Friday practice and Sunday's main event lineup will be set by qualification heats run Saturday evening. Drivers will accumulate points through finishing position and passes made in those qualifying heats and those point totals will determine the lineup for Sunday's big show. Qualifying results will be critical because we've seen this race's outcome heavily influenced by track position in its prior running. The best place to be in this race is out front. Positive track position helps drivers avoid getting caught up in accidents and enables them to defend versus attack. Both races so far have been won by drivers starting in the first six rows, and that would be the expectation again this week as the Cup Series prepares to get dirty.

Key Stats at Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track

  • Number of races: 2
  • Winners from pole: 0
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 0
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 1
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 0
  • Fastest race: 46.313 mph

Previous Bristol Dirt Winners

2022 - Kyle Busch
2021 - Joey Logano

The past two Bristol dirt races have been track position battles. Only five different drivers led laps in each of the two main events. Both races also featured no fewer than 10 cautions, including stage breaks. Racing with nearly 40 high-powered stock cars on a tricky dirt surface in the tight confines of Bristol makes for a treacherous race. With non-competitive pit stops being implemented the only way for drivers to get to the front is through passing on track under green, which is already extremely difficult in the best of circumstances. For all these reasons, Saturday's four 15-lap qualifying heats will be critical. From there it will be all about avoiding trouble throughout Sunday's 250 laps. That trouble can bite at any time, too. Last year's race was determined by last-lap contact between the two leaders, allowing Kyle Busch to slip through and lead just the final lap to claim victory. To finish first, first you must finish, and that will be the primary goal. Fantasy players should base their lineups as much as possible on the outcomes of Saturday's qualifying rounds, knowing that drivers out front in this race tend to lead for long stretches, and strong qualifying race performances tend to foreshadow main race success. 

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DraftKings Value Picks for the Food City Dirt Race (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Kyle Larson - $10,900
Tyler Reddick - $10,700
Christopher Bell - $10,500
Chase Briscoe - $10,200

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Joey Logano - $9,800
Kyle Busch - $9,700
Ross Chastain - $9,300
Denny Hamlin - $9,100

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $8,700
Alex Bowman - $8,500
Kevin Harvick - $8,300
Daniel Suarez - $8,100

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Austin Dillon - $7,400
Justin Haley - $6,900
Todd Gilliland - $5,300
J.J. Yeley - $4,900

NASCAR DFS Picks for the Food City Dirt Race

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Larson - $10,900
Christopher Bell - $10,500
Ross Chastain - $9,300
Brad Keselowski - $7,600
Michael McDowell - $6,400
Corey Lajoie - $5,000

While the Bristol dirt race has yet to produce a winner among the favorites on the surface, those favorites still make a wise choice the third time around. Kyle Larson (DK $10,900, FD $14,000) and Christopher Bell (DK $10,500, FD $13,500) are two that fit that bill well. Larson has a long history of dirt competition, even taking part in dirt races to keep sharp as he awaited his return to the Cup Series with Hendrick Motorsports, ultimately winning the championship in that return. He started the inaugural Bristol dirt race on pole and also finished fourth in last year's race. Bell is also an accomplished dirt racer having spent much of his early career racing on the surface, propelling him to NASCAR. He finished seventh in last year's Bristol race and is consistently a favorite for this race. In contrast, Ross Chastain's (DK $9,300, FD $10,000) prior experience driving vehicles on dirt came from the time he spent driving a tractor on his family's watermelon farm. He hasn't been able to show what he is capable of at this race with DNFs in both prior attempts, but he is one of the quickest each and every week this season. That trend puts him in good stead to grab his best Bristol dirt finish this week. 

Brad Keselowski (DK $7,600, FD $8,000) brings more consistency to this lineup. The former champion has been no slouch at this race with back to back finishes of 11th despite starting outside of the top 15 in both attempts. Similarly, Michael McDowell (DK $6,400, FD $5,800) has proven to be remarkably consistent in this race. His average finish from the first two events is 10.5 with a ninth-place result last season. He and Keselowski should offer reliable points fantasy players can count on this weekend. Lastly, Corey Lajoie (DK $5,000, FD $4,000) has been having a strong start to 2023 and that could carry him through this week, too. Lajoie crashed out of his first attempt on Bristol's dirt but delivered a respectable finish of 19th in last year's race from the 26th starting spot.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Tyler Reddick - $10,700
Chase Briscoe - $10,200
Joey Logano - $9,800
Alex Bowman - $8,500
Todd Gilliland - $5,300
J.J. Yeley - $4,900

Bristol's higher-risk lineup is lea by two drivers that should be part of the conversation of favorites to win. Tyler Reddick (DK $10,700, FD $13,000) has plenty of dirt experience and is looking forward to using what he learned from last year's runner-up finish to do one better this time. He led 99 laps in 2022, but is hoping that the implementation of the "choose rule" will help him stay at the front throughout the 250 laps. Chase Briscoe (DK $10,200, FD $11,000) was also in the mix for the win last year along with Reddick until the pair collided on the final lap allowing Kyle Busch to slip through for the win. Briscoe also grew up racing on dirt and will be using a late model start and the Truck Series race to get some seat time in preparation for Cup competition. Inaugural dirt race winner Joey Logano (DK $9,800, FD $12,000) should also make for a reliable fantasy option. He backed up that initial dirt win with a third-place outing last season and will also be using the Truck race on Saturday to prepare for Sunday. Similarly, Alex Bowman (DK $8,500, FD $8,200) is a worthy consideration after seeing his sixth-place finish in last year's race. He leads the points heading into this weekend and is on a run of four top-10s from the last five races. 

Another driver with wind in his sales is Todd Gilliland (DK $5,300, FD $2,500). Gilliland is currently 23rd in points on the back of three consecutive finishes in the top 15. He made his first Bristol dirt appearance last season with a 17th-place finish. One last driver to consider this week might be J.J. Yeley (DK $4,900, FD $2,500). He hasn't had the success fantasy players hoped for in the first two versions of this race, but he remains one of the more experienced racers on dirt as he climbed the racing ladder to the Cup Series. Yeley has yet to get the Bristol dirt results we would expect given his experience and talent.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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