I'm not sure that dropping a bunch of dirt on top of Bristol Motor Speedway will create great racing, but I have to admit that I am intrigued but what is going to happen when the green flag waves Sunday.
My gut tells me that cautions, restarts, and attrition will be a big part of the Food City Dirt Race, and now that Mother Nature has nixed the heat races, I think the chaos is only going to increase. By setting the lineup with the usual formula, experienced dirt racers will be spread throughout the field. That doesn't even consider that dirt racer extraordinaire Kyle Larson will have to drop from the pole to the rear of the field because of an engine issue.
It seems crazy since Bristol is a half-mile short track, but I am approaching this race much like a superspeedway event when building NASCAR DFS lineups at DraftKings. I will lean heavily into the place differential category, loading up my lineups with drivers starting deeper in the field.
Drivers starting in the back who also have dirt racing backgrounds will get a bump in my book, especially for cash contests, but I also think any of the top series regulars starting in the back half offer plenty of value.
I won't be completely ignoring the dominator categories, especially in GPP contests. I do think passing will be somewhat difficult, and one driver could lead 100-plus laps. However, I think spins and wrecks will rule the day as drivers slip and slide around the dirt surface. Stacking the back allows you to both survive and take advantage of the potential chaos.
Christopher Bell ($11,000)
With Kyle Larson dropping to the rear of the field, Bell becomes my favorite to win this weekend. At the very least, he has the best combination of dominator and place differential upside among drivers with an extensive dirt racing resume. The three-time Chili Bowl Nationals winner and former USAC champ rolls of 15th.
Tyler Reddick ($10,500)
He will have to come from the 27th starting spot, but given his background in dirt racing, Reddick should do that and then some. Not only should he be among the top scorers in the place differential category, but I don't think dominator points are off the table. Reddick should be the total package.
Chase Briscoe ($9,900)
Briscoe was borderline unstoppable at Eldora in the Truck Series, posting a 3.7 average finish in three starts while grabbing a win and leading the most laps in another race. His dirt racing background should shine through again on Sunday, and starting 25th gives Briscoe the chance to post a big point total with a solid finish alone.
Chase Elliott ($8,700)
You won't find him mentioned among the dirt racing veterans, but how often can you roster the defending series champ for a midrange price, starting outside the top 25, no less. Combining talent, equipment, and differential points makes him an easy choice as a cash lineup addition.
Kurt Busch ($7,800)
Dirt racing might not be high on his list of racing accolades, but I have seen Busch run up front in the Cup Series for various teams, pile up wins at Bristol, hold his own in the Indianapolis 500 and restart as well as any driver in the series. He is a racer, plain and simple, and I like my odds with Busch's talent and his cushion of differential points. He rolls off 28th.
Ty Dillon ($6,600)
Dillon has made enough dirt racing starts, including several Truck Series starts at Eldora, that he shouldn't be a fish out of water this weekend. More importantly, he starts dead last, so no matter how chaotic things get, you know Dillon won't lose points in the place differential category. He's a safe source of cap relief.
Kyle Larson ($12,000)
I have a feeling Larson was going to be the most popular play had he started from the pole, but now that he is dropping to the rear and simply being scored from first, I think a lot of people will jump ship. While it is true that passing is going to be tough, we are still talking about one of the best dirt racers in the world. His dominator upside takes a hit, but Larson could still lead his share of laps and end up in victory lane. I love him in GPP contests.
Austin Dillon ($9,700)
Dillon has essentially grown up with an unlimited racing budget, and to his credit, he spent plenty of time at dirt tracks. A top-10 starting spot limits his differential upside and goes against my stacking-the-back strategy, but Dillon is one driver with enough dirt racing experience that I'll make an exception. I could see him contending for the win and leading some laps.
Ryan Blaney ($9,300)
The son of dirt legend Dave Blaney has to have some dirt racing in his DNA. Even if he doesn't, Blaney did have great practice times Friday, and thanks to Kyle Larson dropping to the rear, he will lead the field to the green. Blaney is in perfect position for some earlier dominator points.
Bubba Wallace ($8,500)
Short tracks have been some of his best throughout his NASCAR career, and I think it is worth noting that the last time he raced in the Truck Series at Eldora, Wallace led the most laps and picked up the win. Starting 19th, I think he could be a bit overlooked, making him a prime contrarian play.
Erik Jones ($5,600)
Jones doesn't have much dirt racing experience under his belt, but he's been strong at Bristol, and he has excelled at tracks with low grip. There will be plenty of slipping and sliding this weekend, and Jones should be able to adapt. From the 24th spot, he could be an absolute steal.
NASCAR guru Brian Polking has been committed to producing Fantasy NASCAR coverage for nearly a decade and written countless articles for his devoted audience who swear by his advice year after year.