NASCAR Food City Dirt Race betting odds, preview, and value picks

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

March 26th, 2021

One of the most highly-anticipated new events on the 2021 NASCAR calendar is Sunday’s Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX). The customary asphalt at “Thunder Valley” will be eschewed for dirt, marking the first time since 1970 that NASCAR’s premier series will compete on a non-paved surface.

There are plenty of drivers in the field with experience on dirt, but not in these kinds of cars. In theory, that should set things up for an unpredictable scramble on Sunday. Yet oddsmakers and bettors seem to have settled on an odds-on choice.

Kyle Larson is the +250 favorite to post his second win of the season on Sunday. He won over 40 races on dirt last year while serving a Cup Series suspension for using a racial slur in 2020. Larson has a solid case in the Food City Dirt Race, but he doesn’t seem worth the gamble in this spot.

Here are three drivers offering value who could upset Sunday’s novel NASCAR Cup Series event. Of course, bettors may want to wait until Saturday’s “heat races” are done to see how the drivers did, and where they’ll begin on raceday.

Food City Dirt Race

Sun, March 28 2021, 7:30 PM

Larson, Kyle


Bell, Christopher


Dillon, Austin


Briscoe, Chase


Busch, Kyle


Friesen, Stewart


Reddick, Tyler


Stenhouse Jr, Ricky


Elliott, Chase


Blaney, Ryan


Christopher Bell (+700)

Christopher Bell should feel right at home in the Food City Dirt Race, as he cut his teeth in dirt races.

Bell was the 2013 USAC National Midget Champion (“Midget” being a small type of racecar), and won 24 dirt races in 2014. He would turn to NASCAR full-time starting in 2015, but he never forgot his roots. Bell competed in the prestigious Chili Bowl and won three straight times from 2017 to 2019.

The No. 20 Toyota driver notched his first win in the Truck Series at Eldora, a dirt oval, in 2015.

As for previous experience at Bristol, Bell has an Xfinity Series win from 2019 to lean on, as well as a ninth-place finish in his Cup Series debut over this course.

Kyle Busch (+1600)

No active driver has compiled a résumé at Bristol quite like Kyle Busch. He leads all current Cup Series participants in wins (eight) and laps led (2,592).  

Over his last seven races at “Thunder Valley,” Busch has three wins, three additional Top 5s, and nine stage placings, including a Stage 2 victory in last September’s Cup Series event. “The Candy Man” may not care for the dirt surface, but his expertise at Bristol should not be overlooked.

Chase Elliott (+2000)

He doesn’t have a Cup Series win a Bristol yet, but Chase Elliott has the best average finish (12.1) of any active driver at this oval.

Elliott has put together some very strong efforts at Bristol lately, compiling three stage victories and 294 laps led over his last five races. He even took the 2020 All-Star race here.

Sooner or later, luck will be on Elliott’s side over this course. Perhaps it will be Sunday, and backers will score at sizable odds.