It took a day, but for the second time this season, weather forced the Monster Energy Cup Series to race on a Monday. Kyle Busch would grab the lead with 6 laps to go and win his second consecutive race of 2018. Here’s how it all went down Sunday, and Monday, at Bristol Motor Speedway.
After being moved up an hour and a slight rain delay, and with more rain threatening, Kyle Busch led the field to the green flag. After crashing during practice Kurt Busch had to give up his second place starting position and start in the back. He joined Kevin Harvick in a backup and Jimmie Johnson who lost a tire during qualifying.
Up front the top five behind Kyle Busch; Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson.
Kyle Busch took the outside on the start; he shot out to the lead and was soon moving away; Stenhouse and Larson were soon side by side for second as Keselowski fell back.
On lap 4, the first caution of the day came out when Michael McDowell got loose exiting turn 4 and slid along the frontstretch; Chase Elliott, AJ Allmendinger, and Martin Truex Jr. were swept up. Elliott and Truex had the heaviest damage. Aric Almirola also suffered damage but was able to continue. Both Truex and Elliott had heavy damage but tried to continue.
Green came out to start lap 10. Kyle Busch again had the lead, but Blaney was underneath and looking for the lead; Busch was able to hold him off and keep the lead. Stenhouse was third followed by Joey Logano and Paul Menard.
Daniel Suarez took fifth on lap 16.
Blaney had caught back up and took the lead on lap 17; behind them Allmendinger spun in turn 4 after contact after with Jamie McMurray and the second caution of the day came out.
McDowell took his car to the garage, the first among those in the first incident to officially drop out. There were a few takers deeper in the field when the pits opened.
Green came out to start lap 23; Blaney shot to the lead, Logano slid into second behind; Busch was dropped back as Stenhouse took third. Trapped on the outside Busch was soon dropping back. He fell into sixth on lap 28 but nearly spun out entering turn 2 and lost more spots. He finally settled into 10th.
Up front the top five: Blaney, Logano, Stenhouse, Larson and William Byron.
Keselowski took fifth on lap 36.
NASCAR had scheduled a competition caution for lap 45 but changed that to lap 50.
There began to be reports of rain by lap 43.
Caution (3) came out for rain on lap 46; just after Johnson reported a possible flat tire.
It wasn’t long before cars were stopped on the backstretch and the red flag was displayed on lap 50. The top 10: Blaney, Logano, Stenhouse, Keselowski, Larson, Bowman, Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, Kyle Busch and William Byron.
Drivers were called back to their cars after about 30 minutes. NASCAR said that once the yellow came back out it would be the competition caution. Elliott was held a lap for working on the car during the red.
The official red flag time was 25:28.
Pit road remained closed for several laps as it was dried. It opened on lap 55. The top five off pit road: Blaney, Larson, Keselowski, Stenhouse and Kyle Busch. Logano lost several spots with issues on the right rear, he came out eighth.
Green came out to start lap 60; Blaney shot to the lead on the outside followed by others on the outside line. On the next lap, Erik Jones got loose entering turn 3 and spun out Stenhouse who was in fifth. Caution flew again (4). Stenhouse had no damage and continued.
None of the leaders pitted and green came out to start lap 68; Blaney again went to the lead, Logano followed; Menard, Keselowski and Jones followed.
After starting in the back in a backup car, Kurt Busch was 9th by lap 85.
Blaney’s lead was 2.5 seconds by lap 90.
Keselowski took second on lap 94. Kyle Busch had moved up to sixth.
In lapped traffic Blaney was soon seeing his lead shrink.
Kyle Busch took fifth on lap 105; Larson took third on the same lap; Kyle got by Logano a lap later.
With 10 to go in the stage, Blaney was reporting he was loose; the lead was .4 of a second.
Keselowski was looking for the lead on lap 117 but in front of Blaney, Trevor Bayne got into Chris Buescher exiting turn 2; Blaney couldn’t avoid it and hit Harrison Rhodes; Blaney’s day was over as was Rhodes and Buescher. Keselowski was the leader followed by Larson, Kyle Busch, Logano and Menard.
NASCAR put out the red flag. Spotters were reporting rain. However, NASCAR’s goal was to end the stage under green.
The red flag was lifted after 6:29. There were four laps left in Stage 1.
Keselowski stayed out as those behind pitted. Five others also stayed out.
Kyle Busch was out first off pit road; Larson, Logano, Jones and Hamlin followed.
The top six Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Almirola, Ryan Newman, Stenhouse and Allmendinger.
Green came out to set up a one lap run to the end of the stage.
Stage 1: Keselowski, Newman, Bowyer, Allmendinger, Larson, Jones, Almirola, Johnson, Stenhouse, and Kurt Busch. Yellow came out to end the stage.
Keselowski and the others of the top six who did not pit before pitted. Keselowski was out first followed by Newman, Almirola, Stenhouse and Allmendinger. Stenhouse was penalized for an uncontrolled tire.
Keselowski rejoined the field 18th.
The top five: Larson, Jones, Johnson, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick. Johnson, Harvick and Busch had started in the rear. Spotters were again reporting light rain.
Green came out to start Stage 2 on lap 135. Laron took the lead on the outside; Kurt Busch followed into second. Jones, Johnson and Menard followed.
The field was racing to get to the end of Stage 2 and make the race official; the race was to lap 250.
Johnson took third on lap 148.
Bayne spun again exiting turn 4 on lap 155 and the caution (6) came out again. He had slight damage but continued.
Kurt Busch and Johnson along with Harvick and a few others deeper in the field pitted. Kyle Busch and Keselowski also pitted. Bubba Wallace was penalized for speeding.
The top five who did not stop and led: Jones, Larson, Menard, Bowman and Logano. Byron in sixth also stayed out. During the caution rain started to pick up. NASCAR elected to remain under yellow to see how the rain would do; pace car drive Brett Bodine reported they were losing the track.
After a few laps NASCAR brought the field to pit road and soon the red flag was out again on lap 165. Drivers were kept in their cars however. They were eventually allowed to get out but told to stay close.
With rain threatening engines were re-fired and the red flag was lifted again; time for the third one was for 26:54.
The top five: Jones, Larson, Bowman, Menard and Logano.
Green came out to start lap 169; Larson took the lead from the outside, Menard and Logano followed. Jones on the inside dropped back and continued to do so.
The top ten were all drivers who had restarted on the outside line.
Kurt Busch took fifth on lap 175.
Logano was looking for second a lap later; Larson was checking out up front; the lead was 2.8 seconds. Jones was 15th and still falling.
Hamlin was looking for third by lap 180. Stenhouse was trying to get fifth from Kurt Busch.
Hamlin had third by lap 182.
Stenhouse took fifth on lap 183.
The lead was 2.1 second for Larson by lap 186; Kurt Busch nearly spun out with a loose wheel and had to pit. He came back out three laps down.
Hamlin had second by lap 190; the lead was 5 seconds; Stenhouse was looking for fourth from Logano.
Kyle Busch was up to sixth by lap 198.
Stenhouse took fourth on lap 20; Kyle Busch followed into fifth.
Busch took fourth from Stenhouse on lap 202; he was soon hunting fir third when rain again caused a caution on lap 203. The field was again brought the field to pit road and the red flag was displayed again. The rain erased a 7 second lead for Larson.
The rain was heaver than it had been, and drivers were allowed to get out of their cars. The race was called near 5:00 p.m. and rescheduled to start on Monday at 1:00 p.m.
Fast forward a day and the temperatures had dropped into the 30s and lingering showers mixed with sleet and snow flurries delayed the restart Monday; engines re-fired at 1:30 p.m. with jet dryers still working the track.
Officially there were 23 cars on the lead lap. The top 10: Larson, Hamlin, Menard, Kyle Busch, Stenhouse, Logano, Suarez, Johnson, Harvick and Austin Dillon. There were 204 laps complete. A light mist and a bit of sleet was starting to fall again. Pit road remained closed.
Pit road opened on lap 211. Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman stayed out, most everyone else pitted.
The rain slacked, and green came out to start lap 217. Top five: Larson. Newman, Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Menard.
Larson took the lead as Kyle Busch dove into second; Hamlin slid into third, Johnson took fourth as Newman dropped back to fifth.
Hamlin took second on lap 222.
Johnson took third from Kyle Busch on lap 224. Keselowski took fifth.
Newman was back to 14th by lap 228. Larson’s lead was 2.3 seconds.
Johnson was looking for second and got the spot on 231; Kyle Busch followed. Keselowski took fourth a lap later as Hamlin was blocked by a lapped car.
Second through fourth were nose to tail with Kyle Busch getting second on lap 235; Keselowski followed into third.
With 10 to go in Stage 2, Keselowski took second from Kyle Busch. With Stage 2 being halfway and more weather threatening, the race was to the end of the stage when the race would be official.
Keselowski caught Larson on lap 243, gave him a bump and run and took the lead.
Kyle Busch was looking for second by lap 245; the leaders were in heavy traffic.
Busch and Larson were side by side for second in the final laps of Stage 2.
Top 10 Stage 2: Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Johnson, Hamlin, Larson, Stenhouse, Bowman, Harvick, Austin Dillon and Bubba Wallace.
The leaders pitted. Keselowski was out first followed by Johnson, Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Larson. Keselowski was the only one among the top runners to take only two tires.
Green came back out to start lap 262.
Keselowski took the lead, but Hamlin right behind followed and shot by on the outside to take the top spot; Johnson and Keselowski were side by side with Johnson emerging with second.
Hamlin slowed with a loose wheel and pitted on lap 266.
Johnson took the lead, but Keselowski shot past and took the lead bringing Kyle Busch with him. Johnson was trapped on the outside but held on to keep third; Bowman was in fourth with Larson bumping him to try and get the spot.
Larson got by Bowman on lap 273.
Bowman was trapped on the outside and was soon falling back; he was seventh by lap 276. Truex went to the garage.
By lap 281, Kyle Busch was looking for the lead; Larson took third on the same lap.
In lapped traffic the top three were soon together.
Larson took second on lap 291. He took the lead on lap 293. Truex returned to the track.
Bowman was back in fifth by lap 311.
On lap 323; Larson came down on the lapped car of Newman and the two made contact; Larson was spun exiting turn 4; he was able to keep it off the wall and caution 14 came out.
The leaders pitted. Kyle Busch came out with the lead, Larson second, with Keselowski, Johnson and Bowman following. There were 17 cars on the lead lap when green came out to start lap 329.
Kyle Busch took the lead, Larson began to drop back; Johnson took second, Keselowski third followed by Suarez and Wallace.
Larson had slipped back to seventh by lap 339 with a tire rub. Bowman trapped on the outside fell to 11th.
Keselowski took second on lap 344.
Larson fought his way back to fifth by lap 351.
Reed Sorenson in 25th lost a tire and spun into the outside wall in turn 3 on lap 353, caution 15 came out.
The leaders pitted. Suarez stayed out; Kyle Busch was out first followed by Johnson, Keselowski, Larson and Harvick. Harvick came back in with a loose wheel.
The decision for Suarez to stay out was based on the threat of weather in the area.
The restart came to start lap 366; Suarez jumped out to the lead; Keselowski shot by Busch and had the lead by the end of the lap. Wallace was third, Busch fourth, Bowman fifth.
Wallace took second on lap 369; Kyle Busch, and Bowman followed as Suarez was trapped on the outside; he dropped back in in ninth.
Wallace took the lead on lap 374; Kyle Busch followed. Newman was fourth, Johnson had moved to fifth.
Newman took third on lap 378.
Kyle Busch stayed close and retook the lead on lap 380; Newman followed. Wallace was trapped on the outside and Larson was soon third. Johnson took fourth on lap 384. Rain was starting to fall again, it was mixed with snow.
Wallace was reporting a vibration by lap 387.
The rain-sleet-snow picked up and NASCAR threw a caution (16) for weather on lap 389. Hamlin was given the free pass and was back in the lead lap. The leaders stayed out. There were 17 cars on the lead lap.
The rain stopped and the field was given the green to start lap 399; 101 to go.
Kyle Busch had a clear lead by turn 1; Johnson took second, Larson fell into third Keselowski fourth, Austin Dillon took fifth.
Johnson let Larson by for second on lap 403. Newman had fallen to sixth.
Wallace had fallen to 10th by lap 413.
Stenhouse was the biggest mover, he was up to seventh by lap 215. He took fifth on lap 416. He took fourth on lap 422.
Newman was looking for fifth from Keselowski and had the spot by lap 426; Logano followed.
Keselowski with some possible issue and was 9th by lap 428, 10th by lap 430. Wallace had fallen to 15th.
Keselowski reported a possible tire issue on lap 435; he was put a lap down on lap 438.
Larson snuck under Busch for the lead on lap 439.
The top two were five seconds ahead of third place Johnson.
Wallace who had led, went a lap down on lap 445; he was 14th.
Larson was soon stretching his lead out.
Stenhouse was looking for third by lap 449.
The lead for Larson was 2.2 seconds with 47 laps to go.
After fighting for several laps, Stenhouse took third on lap 457.
Harvick was looking for fifth from Newman on lap 458. Harvick took fifth on lap 460.
Keselowski who had fallen 19th two laps down reported something in his suspension was broken on lap 466.
Stenhouse took second on lap 467.
Larson had a lead of 5.8 seconds. Kyle Busch was reporting a possible issue.
Keselowski lost a left front tire and got into the wall on lap 469; caution flew once again. There were 10 cars on the lead lap.
The leaders pitted with 28 laps to go. Larson was out first followed by Kyle Busch, Johnson, Stenhouse and Newman.
Green came out to start lap 478, 22 to go.
Larson took the lead with Stenhouse following into second; Bowman shot into third, Kyle Busch fourth, Harvick fifth.
Stenhouse was on the back bumper of Larson and looking for the lead by lap 281; behind Busch took third from Bowman; Johnson took fifth from Harvick.
Busch took second on lap 485; Bowman got loose, and Johnson snuck into fourth.
Larson’s lead was under a half a second.
Johnson took third on lap 490.
The leaders were in heavy traffic with 8 to go.
Busch was in his bumper with 7 to go; Busch got into Larson and took the lead with 6 to go.
Larson was trying all he could to get back to Busch.
On the final lap the lead was .0369 of a second.
Larson made one last run but fell short.
Johnson was third, with Stenhouse and Bowman rounding out the top five.
Almirola was sixth, Harvick seventh, Clint Bowyer eighth with Joey Logano and Newman 10th.
The series now has a short week as they head to Richmond for Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400. Live coverage will be on Fox Sports 1 starting at 7:00 p.m.
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