Carl Edwards won the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon in what was a dominating performance. It was his first win of the season, which puts him in a great position to make the season ending Chase For The Sprint Cup.
Earnhardt Jr. has issues on the start
Edwards led the field to the green flag to start the race, but the focus on the start was further back, where Dale Earnhardt Jr. did not get going on the start. He had to pull off to pit road to fix it, and by the time he returned to the track, he was two laps down.
Joey Logano passed Edwards for the lead on Lap 41, but quickly gave the lead back. Logano was then passed by Matt Kenseth, who promptly went and passed Edwards for the lead on Lap 44. Kenseth was leading the race on Lap 52 when Kyle Busch, who had been dominant lately, ended up in the outside wall.
Busch has issues on pit road
The majority of the drivers took advantage to make their first pit stops of the race. Kenseth won the race off pit road, with Edwards coming out in the second position. To make things worse for Busch, he was caught speeding on pit road, which forced him to restart from the back.
Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson were also caught speeding on pit road. The only good thing that happened was Earnhardt Jr. took the wave around, which allowed him to get one of his laps back, leaving him just one lap down.
Kenseth led the field back to green on Lap 58, and was immediately pressured by Denny Hamlin for the lead. They were battling on Lap 70 when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun out, forcing the second caution of the day to be displayed.
More issues for Busch
Kenseth led the field back to green on Lap 78. He was leading when Joey Logano made an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 113. To add insult to injury, Logano was penalized for having an uncontrolled tire. After Logano got that straightened out, Busch spun out on Lap 117 to bring out the third caution of the race.
That led to the field making pit stops, with Kenseth winning the race off pit road. The biggest winner, however, was Paul Menard, who only took two tires, and gained nine positions, putting him in the second position.
Kenseth led the field back to green on Lap 122. Menard, who restarted in second, had a terrible restart, and fell out of the top five. The fourth caution of the day came out when Kyle Larson had issues with his track bar, which sent him behind the wall.
Trevor Bayne got penalized for a commitment line violation after he tried to fake Menard out, and accidently crossed the commitment line, but didn’t stop. That put him back in traffic when Kenseth led the field back to the green flag on Lap 155.
Kenseth brings out the caution
Kenseth was leading on Lap 186 when he brought out the caution after hitting the outside wall. That set up the field for pit stops, with Menard winning the race off pit road. He led the field to green on Lap 194, and immediately found himself in a battle with Edwards for the lead. Martin Truex Jr. also was involved in the battle for the lead.
David Ragan brought out the next caution on Lap 212 when he went up in smoke on the backstretch, forcing the yellow flag to once again be displayed. The race restarted on Lap 227 with Edwards leading the race, with Kevin Harvick restarting in second, but quickly being passed by Ryan Blaney.
Busch's day ends in disappointment
Busch had terrible luck on the day, as on Lap 258 he brought out his third caution of the day after he blew a right front tire. This time, however, he took his car straight to the garage, effectively ending his recent domination of NASCAR. Some cars did take advantage of the caution to pit, and Edwards narrowly won the race off pit road over Johnson.
Landon Cassill, who did not pit, led the field back to the green flag, with Ty Dillon in the second position. They quickly faded to the back of the field in favor of Edwards.
He was leading on Lap 328 when Josh Wise went hard into the wall to bring out the eighth caution of the race. While under caution, teams made another set of pit stops, with Edwards winning the race off pit road, putting him in the lead with under 200 laps to go.
Edwards led the field to the restart, and had a great restart as he opened up a half second lead over Harvick, who was in second. The race was not green for long before another caution came out, this one for Casey Mears wildly spinning, then saving it. Johnson received some damage, as he got bumped by another car while trying to avoid Mears. Johnson brought his car to pit road to fix his damage, putting him further back in the field.
Another caution halts the race
Edwards again led the field to green, this time on Lap 343, and once again, he got a great restart to open up a big lead over Kurt Busch and Harvick. Just like the previous restart, this one did not last long, as Brian Scott got loose and ended up in the wall for the 10th caution of the race.
Edwards restarted the race on Lap 356 with the lead, but quickly lost it to Ku. Busch, who used the cross over to pass Edwards. Ku. Busch led the next 40 laps until Edwards re-took the lead on Lap 401.
He had the lead on Lap 410 when Denny Hamlin went into the wall in Turn 2 to bring out another caution. That set up an interesting predicament, as it was well within the fuel window, but the question was would teams come in for fresh tires.
It ended up being around half coming to pit road, while half stayed out on the track. Of those who made pit stops, Edwards won the race off pit road. Kyle Larson restarted from the back after being penalized for speeding on pit road.
Problems for Aric Almirola
Edwards led the field to green with 84 to go, and he got a great restart, as he shot out in front of Truex Jr. Edwards held the lead until 64 laps to go when Aric Almirola went hard into the wall to bring out the 12th caution of the race.
Almirola had issues with NASCAR, as he felt that he could drive his car, if he got a push so he was facing the proper direction, but NASCAR forced him to get out of the car so that it could be towed away. Eventually he did get out, and was called to the NASCAR hauler after the race, along with his crew chief and spotter.
Pit road was not busy, and the running order was very similar when Edwards took the green with 52 laps to go. The green flag was not out for long before Ty Dillon went into the wall to bring out another caution, which allowed Truex Jr. to get the free pass and get back onto the lead lap with under 40 laps to go.
Edwards led the field to green with 34 to go, but Logano had issues on the restart, which allowed Chase Elliott to pass him and move into the second position. Edwards had opened up a huge lead over Elliott when with 16 to go Michael Annett spun out, forcing NASCAR to bring out the caution, and setting up a huge restart for the rookie.
Edwards took the green with 10 to go, with Elliott right beside him. They didn’t even complete one lap before Regan Smith hit the wall, bringing out the caution. Unfortunately for Elliott, the green was out ling enough for Ku. Busch to pass him, dropping him to third for the restart.
Edwards led the field back to green with 5 to go, and got a huge push from Earnhardt Jr., which propelled him to a massive lead. He did not look back, as he cruised to the win, with Earnhardt Jr. finishing in second, a great finish considering how his day started.
Ku. Busch finished in third, with Elliott in fourth and Trevor Bayne finishing fifth. Matt Dibendetto collected his best career finish, as he finished in sixth place.
Next week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Richmond International Raceway for a Sunday afternoon race.