Kyle Busch Wins the Bristol Marathon

It took over 26 hours for the checkered flag to finally fall at Bristol Motor Speedway, but when it did Kyle Busch claimed victory in the Food City 500. The win was Busch’s 45th of his career, second on the season (consecutively), and seventh at Bristol.

 

The green flag flew under gloomy skies on Sunday and the pole sitter Busch rocketed out to the lead immediately. His advantage was six car lengths by the end of lap 1. Much like last week in Texas, chaos wasted no time arriving as the race’s first caution flew when Michael McDowell go loose under Daniel Suarez and wadded up several other cars including Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. Clean-up was quick and Busch shot out to a lead on the restart. Ryan Blaney kept pace with him and on lap 17 the driver of the Penske Ford got under Busch and snagged the lead. Seconds later Jamie McMurray bumped A.J. Allmendinger and sent him around for the second caution.

 

Blaney would continue to lead once the race resumed as Busch fought handling issues and dropped a lot of positions fast. Caution number three would come on lap 48 as rain began falling once again. The red flag would be displayed at lap 50. The delay was relatively short and the green flag flew once again on lap 60. Two laps later Erik Jones got loose and turned second place runner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sideways for yet another yellow. With eight laps remaining in stage 1 Brad Keselowski got to his teammate Blaney’s bumper but before they could battle for the lead Trevor Bayne got turned on the backstretch mere car lengths in front of the leaders and Blaney was swept up in the accident that involved a handful of other cars. The red flag was once again displayed to clean up the accident in an effort to finish stage 1 under green. Keselowski was one of few not to pit under yellow. Stage 1 ended with a one lap dash and he claimed the stage victory.

 

Keselowski would surrender the lead and make his pit stop, Kyle Larson would inherit the lead. Like all other leaders on restarts Larson launched off really well and established a lead. Chad Finchum would spin early in stage 2 but it did not warrant a caution. The yellow flag would fly soon after when Trevor Bayne found the wall for the second time on the afternoon. This caution introduced new strategy to several drivers as a handful elected to pit, Larson and Jones were among the ones to stay out.

 

Under caution rain would fall once again forcing the race’s third red flag. Racing resumed shortly after but with 48 to go in stage 2 rain would result in another red flag that ultimately delayed the rest of the race to Monday.

 

The green flag went back in the air Monday afternoon at 1:44 with 33 to go in stage 2. Larson quickly found himself with a two second lead. Larson’s old tires came back to bite him as Busch and Keselowski caught him in the final 10 laps of the stage. Keselowski gave Larson the bump and run with 7 to go and claimed the race’s second stage.

 

The final stage restarted with the 2 car still out-front, but he wouldn’t be for long as Denny Hamlin grabbed the lead on the first lap under green. His lead would also be short lived as he soon reported to his crew that he had a loose wheel. Hamlin dove for the pits and relinquished the lead to Jimmie Johnson who also wasn’t out front long as Keselowski took the top spot once again. Larson would return to the lead on lap 293 after he ran Keselowski down from a few seconds back. Larson would pull away but with 176 to go, while slicing through lap traffic, cut across the nose of Ryan Newman and spun out. Amazingly Larson avoided hitting anything and only fell to third position. Busch would be the beneficiary of Larson’s spin and became the new leader.

 

Reed Sorenson backed into the wall with 147 remaining and a miscommunication gave Daniel Suarez the lead. He had intended to pit but didn’t. His old tires were no match for a field of fresh ones behind him and Keselowski got back out front. Darrell Wallace Jr., who had been a consistent top 10 car all day, bumped his way past the 2 car to take the lead on lap 374. Busch found the lead once again just six laps later. A brief rain shower would warrant a caution with 110 to go.

 

Larson would get back out front with 62 laps left and he set sail on the field. Keselowski would bring out the day’s final caution when he cut a tire and hit the wall. The last restart was with 22 to go and once again Larson pulled away. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. battled with him briefly but couldn’t get by. Busch caught as the finish neared and delivered the classic bump-and-run on Larson with five to go to secure the win.

Final Result for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway:

1. Kyle Busch
2. Kyle Larson
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
5. Alex Bowman
6. Aric Almirola
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Joey Logano
10. Ryan Newman
11. Daniel Suarez
12. David Ragan
13. Paul Menard
14. Denny Hamlin
15. Austin Dillon
16. Darrell Wallace Jr
17. AJ Allmendinger
18. William Byron
19. Jamie McMurray
20. Ladon Cassill
21. Matt DiBenedetto
22. Kurt Busch
23. Brad Keselowski
24. Trevor Bayne
25. Corey LaJoie
26. Erik Jones
27. DJ Kennington
28. Ty Dillon
29. Chase Elliott
30. Martin Truex Jr
31. Gray Gaulding
32. Reed Sorenson
33. Chad Finchum
34. Kasey Kahne
35. Ryan Blaney
36. Chris Buescher
37. Harrison Rhodes
38. Michael McDowell
39. Ross Chastain

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