Race Weekend Central

Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Forecast: 2023 Food City Dirt Race

NASCAR Cup Series cars might get a little dirty this weekend as they take on the Food City Dirt Race at the half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track. Coverage of the special Easter event airs Sunday, April 9 at 7 p.m. ET on FOX.

It’s the third race on Bristol dirt for the Cup Series and second with Next Gen cars. Last year featured a thrilling finish when Chase Briscoe sent his car into Tyler Reddick‘s on the last lap, spinning both of them out. Briscoe wound up dropping to 22nd while Reddick drove off and was nipped by Kyle Busch at the finish line.

2022’s event also saw two rain delays. It seems like Mother Nature really likes pouring on this track the last few years, as rain is expected this weekend, too. In fact, wet weather already wiped out all of Friday’s on-track practice sessions.

That leaves just heat races for drivers to get a handle on the track — not an ideal situation. We don’t know how well the cars will run off the hauler and with rain in the forecast for Saturday, more cancellations and postponements are in play.

With so little track time a distinct possibility, how do you figure out which drivers to play on DraftKings? First, look at the past two Bristol dirt events to see how drivers performed. Also study which ones have some experience on dirt outside of NASCAR; that really comes in handy when adapting to this track type.

Then, if Saturday’s qualifying heat races do run as scheduled, get a good look at how drivers perform and keep in mind, track position is key. Both previous Bristol dirt events have been won by those who earned a starting spot inside the top 12.

Before I share some drivers I’m eyeing this week, let’s review the DraftKings scores from Richmond Raceway’s recommendations:

DraftKings SalaryDriverDraftKings Score
$11,000William Byron49.2
$10,800Kevin Harvick49.85
$10,300Christopher Bell70.25
$8,400Chris Buescher7.9
$8,300Brad Keselowski51.4
$7,200Austin Dillon19
$6,000Michael McDowell47.45

Overall, these drivers scored fairly well on DraftKings. Chris Buescher and Austin Dillon didn’t do as well as I hoped, while William Byron would’ve scored more points if he wasn’t spun by Christopher Bell late.

I utilized some of these drivers for one of my lineups, winning $1.50 in the $6,000 Quarter Jukebox tournament. Keep in mind, though I created it after the starting lineup was finalized. That’s why I generally say to wait for qualifying to finalize your rosters on DraftKings, because someone like Josh Berry might have a good pit strategy and come from the back of the field to finish second.

Here’s a closer look at the DraftKings scoring rules…

The winner on the racetrack tallies 45 points, while second place gets 42, third 41 and so on. Tenth place scores 34, while 11th gets 32 and decreases by one from there through 20th. This pattern repeats for 21st through 30th and again from 31st through 40th.

Additionally, drivers can earn or lose a point depending on where they began the race. For example, if Joey Logano started third and won, he would gain two points in addition to his finishing position points, totaling 47 fantasy points.

Drivers also can earn .45 points for each fastest lap and .25 for each lap they lead.

NASCAR DraftKings Scoring

Also, I will be hosting a free NASCAR DraftKings league that will run each week for the Cup Series only. It’s free to join, but as of now it’s just for bragging rights. You’ll get to compete against me and some of my colleagues here at Frontstretch.

Here is the link to the league:

2023 Frontstretch NASCAR DraftKings League

Now, here are my picks for Bristol!

DraftKings Picks: Top Tier ($9,100-$10,900)

Kyle Larson ($10,900)
Career at Bristol dirt: 2 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10
Average finish at Bristol dirt: 16.5

It’s no surprise Kyle Larson is the highest-salaried driver on DraftKings. He’s well-versed in dirt racing, most recently winning his own Late Model Challenge at Volunteer Speedway in Tennessee.

Larson also has some good results at Eldora Speedway in the NASCAR Truck Series, albeit several years ago. In 2013, he was out front for 51 laps before finishing runner up while in 2016, he led 48 circuits en route to the win.

Although the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports driver’s first go at Bristol dirt wasn’t great (Larson crashed into Bell in 2021), he should be a favorite to run near the front. In last year’s event, Larson came home fourth after leading 27 laps.

Hopefully, Larson can lead some laps once again this year and earn a high score on DraftKings.

Tyler Reddick ($10,700)
Career at Bristol dirt: 2 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol dirt: 4.5

As noted earlier, Reddick was spun out of contention for his first win last year, but he still kept the car going to claim second place after leading almost 100 laps in that event. That kept him one of four Cup drivers to earn a top 10 in both Bristol dirt races, surging from 27th to seventh in 2021.

In the Truck Series, Reddick has some experience on dirt, placing third and fifth in 2015 and 2016, respectively, at Eldora. Could he translate that experience to this week with his new 23XI Racing team?

Even if he doesn’t, Reddick has experience winning with 23XI this year already. After a bit of a rocky start, he put together three straight top fives at Phoenix Raceway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Circuit of the Americas, winning the latter event. Reddick would love nothing better than to avenge Bristol’s 2022 misfortune and take his second checkered flag of the season.

Joey Logano ($9,800)
Career at Bristol dirt: 2 starts, 1 win, 2 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol dirt: 2.0

Logano turned heads in the inaugural Bristol dirt race in 2021, capturing the win after staying out front for 61 circuits. After a third place in last year’s Food City Dirt Race, is he now known as Joe Dirt?

Maybe. The No. 22 Team Penske pilot is the only driver with a top five in both races and never ran outside the top 15 in either event. Also, Logano finished sixth in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in 2022 and is set to do double duty once again this weekend. Should the rain hold off and allow for some Truck racing Saturday, it would allow some extra track time for the reigning Cup champ.

(also like Ryan Blaney at $9,500, Kyle Busch at $9,700)

See also
Through the Gears: Bristol Betting Preview

Middle Tier ($7,200-$8,900)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($8,900)
Career at Bristol dirt: 2 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10
Average finish at Bristol dirt: 15.5

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is another skilled dirt racer that could very well be a sneaky surprise in the race on Sunday. After all, he drove from 13th to second in the first Bristol dirt event two years ago. Unfortunately, he finished 10 laps down in 29th running last year’s race after getting caught up in a couple of accidents.

The 2023 Daytona 500 champion has 22-1 odds, per NASCAR, and is +2000 to win on DraftKings Sportsbook. He’s earned several top-20 finishes so far this year, including a seventh at COTA two weeks ago. Can Stenhouse keep up the strong runs and snag another top 10 for JTG Daugherty Racing? Chances are high he’ll follow through.

Daniel Suarez ($8,100)
Career at Bristol dirt: 2 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10
Average finish at Bristol dirt: 8.0

Daniel Suarez led 64 circuits in the 2022 Bristol dirt race, but ended up in an incident on lap 163 and went on to finish 12th. Still, it was nine spots better than where he began the race in 21st.

Suarez’s performance in 2021 nearly matched the following year’s event, as he was out front for 58 laps. However, the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing driver took home a fourth-place finish after starting 18th, proving that he can hang around at the front of the field on this track type.

It will be interesting to see whether Suarez can once again take the helm for a good chunk of Sunday’s event; if he can, he’ll be sure to have a high fantasy score on DraftKings.

Low Tier ($4,700-$7,000)

Justin Haley ($6,900)
Career at Bristol dirt: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol dirt: 14.0

2022 was the first race for Justin Haley at the Bristol dirt track. After winning his heat race and slotting in sixth to start the main event, Haley eventually dropped back to 14th by the end of the night.

However, Haley could be one to watch this weekend as he, too, has done well on the dirt. In February at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida, the Kaulig Racing driver impressed by winning several modified dirt races.

Additionally, in 2017 and 2018, the Indiana native finished eighth and ninth, respectively, at Eldora in the Trucks. While Haley might not compete for the win, he should grab a top 10 or 15 this week.

Todd Gilliland ($5,300)
Career at Bristol dirt: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Bristol dirt: 17.0

Todd Gilliland may not be one that you would consider for DraftKings right off the bat, but he’s one I’m watching, especially in the heat races. In last year’s main event, Gilliland advanced six positions to earn a 17th as a rookie contender.

The 22-year-old pilot for Front Row Motorsports has several good results in the Truck Series at dirt tracks. In 2021, he placed fourth at the Bristol dirt race. Also, he was fourth at Knoxville Raceway that same year and won last season’s event there. Plus, in 2019 at Eldora, Gilliland finished fifth.

Based off of these results, Gilliland looks to be a good underdog for DraftKings. Even if he doesn’t win, just finishing a few spots better than where he starts could produce enough points to put you over the top.

(also like Michael McDowell at $6,400)

Follow @JT_GiantsFan

About the author

Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor and involved with photos, social media and news editing. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via