Last Updated Nov 28, 2022, 8:51 AM

NASCAR Food City Dirt Race Picks, Predictions

NASCAR put 23,000 cubic yards of dirt over Bristol Motor Speedway’s half-mile high-banked concrete layout to give us a Sunday night special called the Food City Dirt Race. It’s the ninth race of the season and the second year in a row NASCAR has tried the dirt gimmick.


I’d much rather see two races a season on Bristol’s concrete with the new car, but just because they put dirt tires on and slip and slide around the track in what sometimes looks like a constant drift doesn’t mean I’m not going to watch it. Odds are posted on the 250 lap event so I’m going to do my darndest to make some money on it.

It’s still NASCAR on Sunday night with all the drivers, crew chiefs, and teams I like. They’re still making left turns, the track just has dirt on it. I have an idea of what drivers have dirt experience and which don’t, but that’s about it. I’m making six to seven wagers using 10 units staggered with my top bets getting more units.

Bristol Motor Speedway hosts a dirt surface race for the second straight year. (Getty)

I could get it over quickly and go bet a horse race or play one spin of roulette, but I got lucky last season with Joey Logano winning, a pick I made because he had one of the best cars using the 750 horsepower package, so I’m going to try it again.

But I do have to draw the line somewhere. If the NASCAR suits come up with another brilliant gimmick for next year with figure-8 racing, monster truck pulls, or a demolition derby, I’m out. And if we have to dirt race again, do it at an old track like North Wilkesboro or Rockingham – revive an old track with dirt.

So let’s get this thing started. We’ve got two practices on Friday and qualifying Heat races on Saturday which should help find a few gems for Sunday's race.

Below are a few drivers I like to do well and I let them tell their own dirt story with odds courtesy of Caesars sportsbooks.


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  • Date: Saturday, April 16, 2022
  • TV-Time: FOX, 7:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Bristol Motor Speedway
  • Location: Bristol, Tennessee
  • Distance: 133.25 miles
  • Laps: 250


#13 CHASE BRISCOE (12/1)

He was 20th last season but he’s better than that. He’s got real dirt skills that should be amplified with the confidence of having a Cup win. “I don’t really know what to expect, just because I’ve never driven a car that has this type of suspension on dirt,” Briscoe said. “So how it drives on dirt and what you feel is probably totally different than what I’ve experienced. The other big component is the tires. The sidewall is so much shorter and stiffer than what we had before, from a side-bite and lateral grip standpoint. It’ll be totally different how the car reacts and the grip level that you have compared to anything I’ve raced. But we’ve got a couple of practices and heat races to figure it out.”

#18 KYLE BUSCH (14/1)

He was 17th in last season's dirt race and led seven laps early. “The dirt guys, I would say, definitely have an advantage,” Busch said. “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 are a lot of things the dirt guys can really pick up on. You always see in those truck races the guys who are good at it, that put some time into it, are better than the ones that do not. I can’t name them all, but (Kyle) Larson, Christopher (Bell), (Tyler) Reddick, even Bubba (Wallace). Bubba never really had any dirt experience, but he did a good job in the Eldora race for us. Those guys will shine, and I think they will be faster during points of the weekend, but I think it’s all going to be circumstantial on how it comes down to the end and what exactly happens toward the finish.”

Kyle Busch has won five cup races at Bristol, but none on a dirt surface. (Getty)

#48 ALEX BOWMAN (17/1)

He was 22nd in last season’s dirt race, but he’s a wild card for me this week because he’s racing in the Truck Series this weekend as well and the experience should help him. He’s got Hendrick equipment so the car should be fast. “There are a lot of new challenges with the Gen-seven car,” Bowman said. “The car is designed to look like a streetcar and has parts that are similar to the production car, so it makes it tough to take it on dirt. The guys at Hendrick Motorsports do a great job of putting together really fast cars and giving me what I need to be competitive every week. We don’t have any notes for the event, but I think some of the changes to even, like making it a night race, will help us put on a better show for the fans. Hopefully, we can get another win this year and take home another cool trophy.”


He was 15th in last season’s dirt race and talks about his dirt experience. “I ran Tony Stewart’s Prelude to the Dream at Eldora four times, and the last one was in 2009,” said Harvick about his dirt experience. “I actually ran a lot of races on dirt around that time. The only one I ever won was at Dave Blaney’s track (Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio) and that was in an IMCA car. But I ran the IMCA car several times that year, probably four or five times. I’m fairly certain I ran in my hometown of Bakersfield (California), I ran at Blaney’s track in Ohio, I ran at Macon in Illinois, I ran in Minnesota – all that stuff was around the time when I raced in the Prelude.”

#99 DANIEL SUAREZ (30/1)

I have a bet on him just because of the upgrades with Trackhouse Racing this season and also because he almost grabbed his first win on this dirt track last season. He led 58 laps just before Logano closed it out. He was second in Stage 2 behind Logano.


#5 KYLE LARSON (7/2)

He’s favored to win again just like last season and he has the same hype this season because this dude races on dirt weekly in his spare time. He won the pole last season, got immediately passed by Hamlin on the first lap, and then finished 29th. "I think running the dirt late model at Bristol a few weeks ago just helps me get eyes on the track to see what’s different,” he said. “It’s a temporary track and it’s never going to be exactly the same as it was the year before. Getting to run some laps to see how the dirt transitioned throughout the night was helpful and hopefully it pays off this weekend."


He has lots of dirt experience but he finished a disappointing 34th in last season’s dirt race. “Bristol dirt is a race that I am so excited for,” Bell said. “Last year was another one of those races that we were really strong or was definitely capable of winning the race. Unfortunately, I made a mistake, spun out and crashed early. So don’t want to do that, again, want to make sure that I get to the end of the race and I think we’ll have strong showing.”

Christopher Bell has seen a Top 6 result in two of his last three races. (Getty)

#22 JOEY LOGANO (10/1)

Last season he finished sixth in the first stage, won the second stage and won the race leading the final 61 of 263 laps. He’s got the past dirt experience and also should have a great Team Penske ride set-up like last season. I have a bet on him.

#19 MARTIN TRUEX, JR. (10/1)

He led a race-high 126 laps in last season’s dirt race, but that was the 750 HP car that was dominating many of the short track races. The new car might not be as successful for him. “There’s going to be a lot of differences, I think,” Truex said when comparing this week to last season’s dirt race. “They put progressive banking in to try to help the high side work and get more side-by-side racing. We’re obviously racing at night, so it’s probably going to be pretty cool and hopefully we’ll be able to keep some more grip in the track. Hopefully it doesn’t get so dried out and dusty like it did last year. And then we’ve got the new car, so we’ll have that change as well. It was a ton of fun last year. I’m really looking forward to trying it again.”

#11 DENNY HAMLIN (12/1)

He adapted well last season with a third-place finish as well as third-place in the first and second stages. The dilemma here from last season is that Hamlin’s car was fast on every short track with the 750 HP package. The dirt could be an advantage for him with the NextGen car being a work in progress for the team so far. .“I’m looking forward to trying it out again,” he said. “With a little better weather conditions from what we faced last year and changing from day to night for the race, I think it’s going to be a better event overall. It will be good to get those two practice sessions on Friday and be able to work on the car a little bit. Between the new car and the changes they made to the track, it’s going to be completely different than what we saw last year.”



He didn’t lead a lap last season on the dirt, but he showed off his dirt skills with top-10 finishes in each stage and worked his way to a runner-up finish. He’s always been good on the Bristol concrete too, so I’m down. “I always love coming to Bristol,” Stenhouse told “Just being around there, I feel like I’ve always had a shot to win. And even though I’ve never gotten a win, man, we’ve battled for wins. Finished second in the Cup car, the Xfinity car and led laps in both and just had a really fun time every time we go to Bristol. I get excited. Obviously, finishing second here last year makes me more pumped up and ready to go. Still a lot of unknowns and don’t really know what the weekend kind of holds for you until you run some practice laps, see how the car’s handling and really go from there. It’s definitely one that I‘ve always looked forward to.”


He held his own on the first last year with an 11th-place finish but that was in a Penske Ford. “This will be yet another interesting weekend with still a lot of unknowns as to how the track will be, how these NextGen cars will manage, and how teams react to all those factors,” Keselowski said. “Last year was all over the place with how the weather affected our weekend, so hoping for a good weekend in that area. We’re going to give it our best shot, and glad to have Solomon Plumbing on the car with us for their first race.”

Brad Keselowski has finished outside the Top 10 in seven straight races. (Getty)

#41 COLE CUSTER (75/1)

He was 24th-place in last season’s dirt race. “I think it’s going to be the guys who have raced a lot of dirt before, obviously guys like Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse and Chase (Briscoe) – those guys are going to be good just because they’ve raced a lot of dirt before and at a high level,” Custer said of who should do well this weekend. “There are going to be some guys who are pavement racers who are going to get up there and race, but I think we’re going to try to make sure we cross the T’s and dot the I’s and hopefully not make any huge mistakes, and try to get as much speed out of our Jacob Construction Mustang as possible.”

#16 NOAH GRAGSON (150/1)

He has two Eldora Speedway dirt starts and finished top-10 in each. I made a small bet on him to win, in part because I always root for the Las Vegas homie, but also because he’s capable of winning with the new car. “I’m really looking forward to racing at Bristol this weekend in our No. 16 Chevy Truck Month Camaro," he said. "There are a few unknowns going into the weekend with the new car, but I think with practice and the heat races, that will give us a good amount of track time to get a feel for everything,” he said.”Our goal is to keep the car in one piece for the whole race and be there at the end.” 


He was pretty good in the dirt last season finishing 12th. “Racing on the dirt in general is still something relatively new to a lot of us,” says McDowell. “Even though we have had one go of it last year, it is still fun to do something a little out of our normal comfort zone, and wheel these cars around what would otherwise be an asphalt track.”


  1. #47 Ricky Stemhouse Jr. (22/1)
  2. #14 Chase Briscoe (12/1)
  3. #5 Kyle Larson (7/2)
  4. #11 Denny Hamlin (12/1)
  5. #99 Daniel Suarez (30/1)


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