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Bristol Featured Numerous Good Storylines

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, April 16 2018

Kyle Busch celebrates his victory Monday at Bristol. His was a good story. But not the only story. (RacinToday/HHP photo)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. – A Kyle Busch victory at Bristol Motor Speedway is nothing new. After all, he’s won at the tough half-mile track in all three of NASCAR’s top three series and swept the Truck-Xfinity-Cup weekend twice.

Overall, the 32-year-old Busch possesses seven Bristol victories in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, nine in the Xfinity Series and five in the Camping World Truck Series. That’s a total of 21 Bristol victories. His win in this year’s Food City 500 took two days to achieve as rain halted the race numerous times on Sunday and eventually allowed only 204 laps to be completed that day. Then snow and often a wintry mix delayed the race’s restart on Monday and eventually caused the 12th of 13 caution flags.

Ultimately, though, in the final 120 laps the two-day race boiled down to a battle between Busch and Kyle Larson. Busch led five times for 117 laps, while Larson set the pace on four occasions for 200 laps.  

The race, however, was not solely about those two drivers as it provided insight into other competitors and teams that could provide a few surprises this season.

Jimmie Johnson didn’t snap his winless streak, but he could be close to accomplishing that feat. His third-place finish was his first top-five and best performance since last October at Dover when he placed third. Johnson described the last two days at Bristol as “a big step in the right direction for us.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came from a lap down to finish fourth, his first top-five this year. It was his best finish since last July at Daytona when he won.

Alex Bowman could have easily been the silent spoiler. Even though he didn’t lead, he finished fifth for his first-ever top-five in 89 Cup races. That also gave Hendrick Motorsports two cars in the top five.

Aric Almirola came close to winning the season-opening Daytona 500 in his initial outing with Stewart-Haas Racing and he has shown that performance wasn’t a fluke. He has consistently run in the top 15 this year. His sixth-place finish Monday was his third top-10 in the season’s first eight races.

Daniel Suarez and Darrell Wallace Jr. also turned heads Monday, even if they didn’t record a top 10 at the checkered flag. Suarez led once for five laps and finished 11th.  Wallace led once for six laps before having to settle for 16th, but it was the way he took the lead that brought cheers. He charged to the front and battled NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski for the lead before securing it on lap 375. Initially, it appeared he might be in contention for the victory. He finished 10th in the second stage and at one point in the race’s final stage it was like his car was on rails as it flew through the field and into the lead. Then, suddenly, something happened and his Chevrolet’s left front wouldn’t respond. Wallace left the track devastated and dejected, scratching his head over what went wrong.

One other driver whose finishing position wasn’t indicative of his car’s performance was Ryan Blaney. It was evident in the first stage, which was completed on Sunday, that Blaney had one of the strongest cars. He led twice for 100 laps and was leading when he got caught up in an incident involving two slower cars he was about to lap. That left him 35th in the finishing order, but his car was powerful.

Even though short tracks are now in the minority on the schedule, the high speeds at Bristol provide insight into not only a driver’s grit, but how well he and his team communicate and their camaraderie. And it’s obvious after the two-day Food City 500 that there are some surprises lurking on the horizon.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – Food City 500

Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol, Tennessee

Sunday, April 15, 2018

  1. (1) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 500.
  2. (6) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 500.
  3. (17) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 500.
  4. (4) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 500.
  5. (8) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 500.
  6. (19) Aric Almirola, Ford, 500.
  7. (39) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 500.
  8. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 500.
  9. (10) Joey Logano, Ford, 500.
  10. (30) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 500.
  11. (12) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 500.
  12. (23) David Ragan, Ford, 500.
  13. (7) Paul Menard, Ford, 499.
  14. (25) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 499.
  15. (21) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 499.
  16. (20) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Chevrolet, 499.
  17. (18) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 499.
  18. (11) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 498.
  19. (31) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 498.
  20. (29) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 498.
  21. (24) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 497.
  22. (2) Kurt Busch, Ford, 496.
  23. (3) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 495.
  24. (33) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 495.
  25. (34) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 494.
  26. (13) Erik Jones, Toyota, 494.
  27. (35) * DJ Kennington, Toyota, 482.
  28. (32) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 475.
  29. (16) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 473.
  30. (26) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, Accident, 458.
  31. (28) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 448.
  32. (36) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Accident, 342.
  33. (38) * Chad Finchum(i), Toyota, Accident, 335.
  34. (15) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, Steering, 236.
  35. (5) Ryan Blaney, Ford, Accident, 117.
  36. (22) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, Accident, 116.
  37. (37) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, Accident, 115.
  38. (9) Michael McDowell, Ford, Accident, 9.
  39. (27) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 3.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  77.465 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 26 Mins, 25 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.628 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  13 for 114 laps.

Lead Changes:  18 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   Kyle Busch 1-16; R. Blaney 17-55; J. Logano 56; R. Blaney 57-117; B. Keselowski 118-130; K. Larson 131-243; B. Keselowski 244-261; D. Hamlin 262-265; B. Keselowski 266-292; K. Larson 293-324; Kyle Busch 325-360; D. Suarez 361-365; B. Keselowski 366-374; D. Wallace Jr. # 375-380; Kyle Busch 381-438; K. Larson 439-472; Kyle Busch 473; K. Larson 474-494; Kyle Busch 495-500.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Larson 4 times for 200 laps; Kyle Busch 5 times for 117 laps; R. Blaney 2 times for 100 laps; B. Keselowski 4 times for 67 laps; D. Wallace Jr. # 1 time for 6 laps; D. Suarez 1 time for 5 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 4 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 2,31,14,47,42,20,48,10,41,17

Stage #2 Top Ten: 2,18,48,11,42,17,88,4,3,43

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, April 16 2018
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