It rained and delayed the race. The rain stopped and 124 laps were run before it rained again. It stopped and the race was able to go the distance, but with three laps to go, a caution was called and then a downpour erupted and the race was called. It was Carl Edwards with the win in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
As if the rain didn’t cause enough drama, NASCAR’s Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton stated in a press conference following the race that someone in flag stand leaned on the caution light switch and six seconds after the lights came one, the flagman saw that the lights were on and waved the caution flag with three laps to go. It was when the lights came on, Pemberton said, when they froze the field and that made up the finishing order. Just as the yellow flag came out, the sky opened up and started to pour on the racetrack.
Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards started 12th and slipped back but stayed in the top 20 and methodically moved his way to the front. On the next to the last caution of the night, Edwards’ team gambled and didn’t take tires when others did, but it didn’t faze Edwards. He took the lead after the restart on lap 461 and didn’t look back.
It was Matt Kenseth who led the most laps but had an interesting night behind the wheel. He was in the second position when Danica Patrick and Cole Whitt tangled on lap 155 which caused Kenseth to check up and Timmy Hill plowed into the back of Kenseth’s car. The No. 20 had extensive damage to the rear of the car. His crew got it back into some shape and Kenseth restarted in the 24th position. Did that slow down Kenseth? Not a bit! He battled back to the lead with a torn-up racecar and proceeded to hold point for several green flag laps. Kenseth would lead the most laps on the day with 165.
There were 12 different leaders on the day and most of them had some sort of issue during the race. Kyle Busch had a tire issue and got into the wall. Kurt Busch got into the wall trying to avoid his brother’s car that had spun and stopped in the middle of the racetrack. Brad Keselowski ran into the back of Jamie McMurray’s car which caused damage to both cars. Kevin Harvick’s car had a tire go down and he ran into the wall. His car caught on fire after he took it to the garage area. The tread on Jimmie Johnson’s right front tire unraveled and repairs caused him to go two laps down, Joey Logano lost power steering but his crew was quick to fix it and he only lost three laps due to the crew’s effort. Pole-sitter Denny Hamlin shot shuffled back in traffic at the beginning of the race and couldn’t recover and Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer just couldn’t hold onto the top spot.
Tony Stewart had a great run after struggling since the start of the season. He finished in the fourth position and in a post-race interview on FoxSports1 he said finishing fourth was like winning the race.
The top ten looked like this: Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Aric Almirola, Tony Stewart, Marcos Ambrose, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers, and Kyle Larson.
Rookie Kyle Larson was battling for the lead mid-race but couldn’t get past Matt Kenseth. He would finish in the tenth position making him the highest finishing rookie of the race.
The next NASCAR Sprint Cup race will be Sunday, March 23 at 3 p.m. ET at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for the Auto Club 400.
In other NASCAR Nationwide Series news, Kyle Busch was the winner of the Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 presented by Lilly Diabetes at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday. The next Nationwide Series race will be Saturday, March 22 at 2 p.m. ET at Auto Club Speedway for the Treatmyclot.com 300.