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April 9, 2023

Advance to Victory Lane: Larson leads the way at Bristol


Kyle Larson drives the No. 5 Chevrolet on the Bristol Dirt in 2022
Chris Graythen
Getty Images

With only two Bristol Dirt races in the books for the NASCAR Cup Series, there isn’t much data to dissect for making a prediction. Nonetheless, our fearless prognosticators at Racing Insights march forward.

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Showing up at the top of this week’s projections is last week’s winner, Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports. Larson checks off a few boxes for Sunday’s Food City Dirt Race (7 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Bristol Motor Speedway.

First, Larson has a dirt background and is famous for squeezing in grassroots events between his Cup Series races, so his experience level on dirt is more than your average Cup driver. Larson is also on a hot streak, winning last week at Richmond and finishing in the top five three times in the past five races.

With Friday’s practice rained out and only Saturday’s qualifying to examine, Larson remained the top call. He will roll off first in Sunday’s race.

OTHERS TO WATCH

TYLER REDDICK: He led 99 laps last year before being wrecked while leading on the final lap. Reddick has finished in the top 10 in both Bristol Dirt races and comes from a dirt background. His 16th-place finish last week at Richmond snapped a streak of three straight top-five finishes this season. Starting lineup position: Sixth.

JOEY LOGANO: Logano won the inaugural Bristol Dirt Race in 2021 and finished third last season. He led 61 laps en route to his victory in 2021. Logano finished seventh at Richmond and won recently at Atlanta. Starting lineup position: 12th.

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: He does not come from a dirt background, but his 126 laps led on the Bristol dirt are the most among all drivers. Truex Jr. is coming off an 11th-place finish at Richmond, where he was running third before having to put on scuff tires during the race’s last pit stop. Starting lineup position: 27th.

KYLE BUSCH: The defending race winner has nine career Cup victories at Bristol. He was running third on the final lap last year when Briscoe spun Reddick and opened the door for Busch to steal the win. Busch had three straight top-10 finishes this season before finishing 14th last week at Richmond. Starting lineup position: Fifth.

CHASE BRISCOE: He led 59 laps in last year’s Bristol Dirt Race, but the aforementioned spin on the final lap relegated him to a 22nd-place finish. He comes to Bristol looking to break a cold spell with six finishes of 12th or worse to start the season. Starting lineup position: 14th.

Projections as of Sunday, April 9.

RACING INSIGHTS’ PROJECTIONS FOR THE FOOD CITY DIRT RACE

Finish Car No. Driver
1 5 Kyle Larson
2 22 Joey Logano
3 8 Kyle Busch
4 24 William Byron
5 12 Ryan Blaney
6 4 Kevin Harvick
7 11 Denny Hamlin
8 48 Alex Bowman
9 99 Daniel Suárez
10 19 Martin Truex Jr.
11 14 Chase Briscoe
12 6 Brad Keselowski
13 20 Christopher Bell
14 1 Ross Chastain
15 45 Tyler Reddick
16 17 Chris Buescher
17 7 Corey LaJoie
18 43 Erik Jones
19 34 Michael McDowell
20 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
21 2 Austin Cindric
22 9 Josh Berry
23 54 Ty Gibbs
24 38 Todd Gilliland
25 3 Austin Dillon
26 31 Justin Haley
27 41 Ryan Preece
28 23 Bubba Wallace
29 10 Aric Almirola
30 21 Harrison Burton
31 77 Ty Dillon
32 42 Noah Gragson
33 16 A.J. Allmendinger
34 15 J.J. Yeley
35 51 Cody Ware
36 13 Jonathan Davenport
37 78 BJ McLeod

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