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|John Hunter Nemechek
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Saturday’s Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt will kick off a weekend of dirt-track racing at Bristol Motor Speedway. For the second straight year, the concrete surfaces of the World’s Fastest Half-Mile have been overlaid with red clay specifically for this event and for Sunday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race.
The Camping World Truck Series event will be contested over 150 laps, with stage breaks scheduled after 40 and 90 circuits. Martin Truex Jr. won last year’s inaugural dirt race at Bristol, but he isn’t competing in the Truck race this year.
Four full-time NASCAR Cup Series drivers are dropping down to the Truck Series on Saturday to get more track time before Sunday’s Cup race at the Bristol Dirt Track.
Two of the four are co-favorites: Joey Logano (+500 via DraftKings Sportsbook) because he was the surprise winner of last year’s inaugural Cup dirt race at the track, and Chase Elliott (+500), presumably because he has been dabbling, with limited success, in dirt midget racing.
After all, it was Dillon who won the inaugural Truck Series dirt race at Eldora Speedway in 2013 in a format identical to the one drivers will face this weekend. Dillon is worth a bet.
Matt Crafton hasn’t won a Truck Series race since 2020 when he prevailed at Kansas Speedway in the 10th event of the season.
But that doesn’t deter us one bit from betting on the three-time series champion in Saturday night’s Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt at Bristol. According to the odds, he’s a sleeper, but he shouldn’t be.
Crafton fields his own dirt modified car when not competing in NASCAR, and he’s no slouch on the clay surfaces. In last year’s Truck Series race on the half-mile dirt track at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway, Crafton finished sixth.
Accordingly, we think Crafton is grossly undervalued at +2000 via DraftKings Sportsbook, and we like him for a long-shot pick at Bristol.
As an aside, we also like another long shot—USAC national midget champion Buddy Kofoid (+1600), who is making his NASCAR national series debut at Bristol. Kofoid is driving the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota that carried Martin Truex Jr. to victory in last year’s race.
Full-time Truck Series driver Stewart Friesen is third choice (+700 via DraftKings) behind Cup Series stars Joey Logano and Chase Elliott, but on a dirt track, Friesen shouldn’t be taking a back seat to anyone.
Consider that Friesen is a world-class dirt-modified driver with more than 300 feature wins in the discipline. When he’s not competing in a Truck Series race, more often than not he’s racing on dirt.
Friesen also was chosen to test NASCAR’s new Next Gen race car on dirt, first at Lancaster (S.C.) Motor Speedway and more recently on the same Bristol track he’s raced on Saturday night. That will give him an edge in the full-bodied trucks.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Friesen, winner of the last Truck race at Eldora in 2019, is our pick to claim the trophy in the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt. (And if he needs support, his wife Jessica also will be running the race.)
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|Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt Information
|Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series)
|Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track
|Saturday, April 16, 08.00 p.m. ET
|How to Watch
Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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