Food City 500 Race Wrap Up: 28 hours of Bristol
CONCORD, N.C. - It took about 28 hours, but after lengthy delays for rain, snow
The win was Busch's seventh Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series triumph at the Last Great Colosseum, making him the winningest active driver at BMS. Rowdy still has a way to go before he catches Darrell Waltrip's 12 Bristol wins, but at just 32 years old, it's not unrealistic. Busch has 21 career wins at Bristol across NASCAR's top three series and has won his last four starts at BMS.
The 2015 Cup champion is also at the top of the playoff grid leaving Bristol, tied with Kevin Harvick for the most playoff points at 12. Busch leads Joey Logano by 59 markers for the overall lead in the standings, which is worth 15 playoff points after the regular season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
How Busch won the race: With just six laps left, Busch got to the rear bumper of Kyle Larson and executed a textbook bump-and-run to grab the lead exiting Turn 4.
The driver of the No. 18 was able to put enough distance between himself and Larson to grab the checkered flag.
Busch is now the owner of 45 victories in NASCAR's top series, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Bill Elliott for 16th on the all-time list, and sits just one win behind Buck Baker.
Bristol's back: Over the last couple of years, Speedway Motorsports and NASCAR have applied PJ1 traction compound to the bottom lane of the corners at Bristol in attempts to make the track more competitive for fans and to give drivers another option during the race.
Whether it was a new formula or simply the cooler temperatures, the results were almost all positive on social media. Throughout the Food City 500, drivers were able to run multiple grooves to negotiate lapped traffic and battle for position.
Of course, being pushed back to Monday is never good, but Jerry Caldwell's staff at Bristol couldn't have asked for a better advertisement for great racing at BMS. Kudos to NASCAR and SMI's staff for making every effort to give the fans a great show despite the circumstances.
.@MattYocum MATT, thank you! We are a team #SMI & @BMSupdates all working with @steveswift4 under the direction of CEO @MarcusSMI we love what we do! #FansFirst ~ Hawk— Donald Hawk (@HawkSMI) April 16, 2018
Smoky Mountain Rain: Speaking of poor circumstances, the spring race weekend at Bristol may be the unluckiest date on the NASCAR calendar.
For the fourth time in five years, the Food City 500 was affected by Mother Nature. To make matters worse, the one time the race ran as scheduled, rain postponed the August race to Sunday afternoon. With the 2019 schedule already released and Bristol keeping its early April date, we can only hope for sunny skies come next season.
Bubba brings them to their feet: With 125 laps left in Monday's race, Bubba Wallace brought the crowd to their feet when he muscled his way past Brad Keselowski for the top spot in Richard Petty's STP No. 43. Those six laps in the top spot were the first laps led of Wallace's young career.
In a video posted to Twitter after the race, Wallace said he wasn't sure what happened to his car.
"I was pumped, I was excited," he said. "I'm just as shook as all of you guys. We went from leading the race to probably the absolute worst car out there. My mind is blown right now."
??????? onto the next. pic.twitter.com/2KKwdH3pl9— Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) April 16, 2018
Although the lead was short-lived as the handling went away on his machine, Wallace's ability to race up front with champions of our sport proved that he's more than capable of holding his own in the Cup Series.
Close but no cigar: If there's a driver in the Cup Series who loves Bristol as much as Kyle Busch, it may be Kyle Larson. Over the last two years, the driver of the No. 42 has led 402 laps around the high banks, including another 200 this weekend.
Larson's drive Monday was particularly impressive. After spinning off the nose of Ryan Newman's machine with 175 laps to go, Larson drove back through the field and retook the lead just 109 laps later. Most drivers would be pleased with salvaging a top-five finish, but Larson was pretty bummed out following the race.
"I thought it would tighten up for me and I could get going but it never really did," Larson said after the race. "I hate that I didn't win. It's another one at Bristol, I feel that every time I race here I almost get a win here."
Pit road rage: Another week, another pit gun controversy. And once again it involves teams from Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing.
After taking the lead at the beginning of Monday's final stage, Denny Hamlin had to bring his No. 11 to pit road with a loose wheel on Lap 266. After the race, Hamlin said his biggest concern is
"It's going to cost somebody a race or the championship by the end of the year," Hamlin told NBC Sports. "There's no question, no doubt it's going to cost somebody from making another round or something. NASCAR doesn't have to answer to that. It's the teams that have to answer to the sponsors when they don't make the next round."
Read NBC's article: Denny Hamlin blasts pit guns, call for NASCAR to make changes now
Erik Jones also had loose wheels on pit road, relegating a car with top-10 speed to a 26th-place finish at BMS.
On Sunday, Kurt Busch gave up a top-five position due to a loose wheel. As a result, Busch brought his No. 41 home
Stuck 3 laps down for 300 laps because of an awesome pit gun. Many positives to take away from the experimental adjustments during the race. pic.twitter.com/GatuLAFArt— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) April 16, 2018
Bloomin' Tuesday: Thanks to Kevin Harvick's seventh-place finish in the Food City 500, we're all winners at Outback Steakhouse. Race on in Tuesday for a free Bloomin' Onion appetizer with any purchase.
Next week: NASCAR wraps up the spring short track season with a trip to Richmond Raceway and the Toyota Owners 400. Joey Logano is the defending race winner, but if you remember, a post-race penalty left Logano and the No. 22 team out of the playoffs in September.
Plus, it's the second of four Dash 4 Cash events in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with the Toyotacare 250. Daniel Hemric, Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler and Spencer Gallagher will do battle with the highest-finishing of the four bringing home $100,000 courtesy of Comcast! And as a bonus, there will be a grand total of zero Cup Series regulars in Friday night's race.