It was one of the best Bristol races in years and one of the best this season. Jimmie Johnson won the rain delayed Food City 500 at Bristol Monday; here’s how it all went down.
After a day of rain Kyle Larson led the field to the green in the outside lane under mostly cloudy skies. Chase Elliott, Marin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano round out the top five. The field was set by points thanks to rain on Friday.
Larson had a clear lead by turn 1, Elliott fell into second. Keselowski was third, followed by Truex.
Truex took third on lap 6. Larson had stretched his lead out to one second. Truex went to second on lap 11. Logano nearly lost it in turn 2 but was able to continue falling into 9th. Elliott was third, Jamie McMurray was fourth Keselowski took fourth from McMurray on lap 29. Larson was lapping the field by lap 19 running the high line.
Larson had a lead of just over two seconds by lap 39. Elliott took second on lap 41.
Kurt Busch, outside the top 10, spun on the frontstretch; Chris Buescher who had to start in the rear of the field was caught up after getting into the back of Reed Sorenson. The first caution of the day flew at lap 54, 6 short of the competition caution mandated earlier by NASCAR for rain. Kurt Busch pitted and was able to make repairs under five minutes. NASCAR called this caution the competition one. Buescher was done for the day.
The leaders all pitted. Larson was out first followed by Truex, McMurray, Elliott and Kyle Busch. There were 33 cars on the lead lap.
With extensive cleanup needed due to fluid from the car of Buescher, NASCAR put out the red flag and stopped the field on lap 67. The red flag was displayed for five minutes, 10 seconds.
Green came out on lap 72. Larson shot to the lead on the outside, McMurray slowed and started to fall back soon he was in ninth. Elliott took second, Truex third. Dave Blaney who had jumped to fourth but fell back a lap leader. Erik Jones was soon fourth, Logano fifth. Jones took third on lap 86; Jones took second two laps later (88). Truex tried to follow under Elliott. He took third from Elliott two laps later. Elliott continued to fall back as Logano soon had fourth, Newman fifth. Truex got past Jones and took second on lap 100, 25 laps from the end of stage 1.
Keselowski had fallen to 18th by lap 112.
The lead for Larson was 1.7 seconds when the first stage ended at lap 125.
Top 10 at the end of stage 1: Larson, Truex, Jones, Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Elliott, McMurray, Denny Hamlin and AJ Allmendinger.
The leaders all pitted on lap 131. Larson was out first followed by Truex, Johnson, Logano and Hamlin.
Green for stage 2 came out on lap 138. Blaney’s crew reported that the power steering pump on his Ford was out.
Larson kept the lead on the restart; Logano followed into second, Truex and Elliott dueled for third with Elliott getting the spot for two laps before Logano took it; Elliott settled into third; Johnson fifth.
Jones took fifth from Johnson on lap 149. Truex took third from Elliott on lap 156. Up front Logano had caught Larson. Truex caught both, and soon he and Logano were fighting for second.
That fight settled down and soon Logano was holding second, and again looking for Larson as Larson was slowed in lapped traffic. Logano was looking for the lead on lap 184. Truex soon joined the fight.
Truex took second on lap 195 as Larson was able to pull away a bit. Larson nearly spun but was able to hold on and continued in the lead. Truex however was soon looking for the top spot.
Truex was able to get the lead on lap 203. Logano was close and soon had second from Larson.
Kyle Busch lost a right front tire and hit the wall on lap 210 bringing out the third caution on the day. The leaders pitted; Truex was out first, Logano second followed by Larson, Johnson and Jones.
Green came back out on lap 218. Dale Earnhardt Jr. however, running in 20th, hit the wall hard, and caution 4 flew right away. The crew reported some sort of issue with the oil cooler just prior to the restart that put oil on the tire. Earnhardt was done for the day. And there was oil all over the track.
The crew continued to work on the damaged car of Kyle Busch.
The restart came on lap 229; 22 laps until the end of stage 2. Truex shot to the lead on the outside; Logano took second, Johnson was third, Kevin Harvick, and McMurray were fourth and fifth. Larson was shuffled back to 8th. He nearly lost it on lap 238 but held on. He finally settled into seventh.
Truex won stage 2 when it ended on lap 250.
Top 10 Stage 2: Truex, Logano, Johnson, Harvick, McMurray, Jones, Larson, Hamlin, Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The leaders all pitted; Hamlin was out first but took only two tires while the rest took four. Logano was out second followed by Truex, Johnson and Harvick. Landon Cassill stayed out to take the lead.
Green came out on lap 260. Truex quickly retook the lead. Harvick took second, Larson third, Hamlin fourth, Cassill held onto fifth. Larson was soon looking for second from Harvick, Logano took fifth from Cassill. Keselowski was reporting a power steering issue.
Truex had a lead of just over 2 seconds by lap 288; Larson took second on lap 289.
Keselowski slowed and pitted with a bad vibration on lap 292. He returned but still reported an issue and had to pit again; he took the car directly to the garage.
Hamlin took fifth on lap 300. Johnson took it back two laps later. Cassill was lapped on lap 309.
Caution six came out on lap 323 when David Ragan spun while trying to go three wide; Danica Patrick was also swept up. The leaders all pitted. Logano was out first, followed by Truex, Johnson, Larson and Harvick.
Green came out on lap 330; Logano held the led as Larson moved into second. Truex stayed close and the two were soon fighting for the spot. Truex was able to get second by lap 336 just after Larson nearly spun out again. Jones was trying to hold off Johnson for fourth.
Truex was soon looking for the lead. Larson stayed close and retook second on lap 366. Jones had fought his way forward and was fourth, Johnson fifth. Keselowski rejoined the race, 67 laps down, on lap 378. Larson scraped the wall but continued on lap 380.
After rebounding inside the top ten, Kyle Busch lost another right front tire while running seventh, hit the wall again and caution seven flew on lap 383. Unlike the last time, there was too much damage this time and he was done for the day. The leaders all pitted; Logano was out first, followed by Larson, Truex, Johnson and Jones.
The restart came on lap 391. Logano held the lead, Johnson rocketed to second; Larson had trouble on the restart and fell back; Kasey Kahne fourth.
Johnson made contact with Logano and took the lead on lap 395. Hamlin had moved to third, Larson was back in fourth, Truex fifth. Larson took third on lap 408. Kahne had fallen to seventh. Larson had second by lap 415 just after a three-way battle for the lead with Johnson and Logano. Soon the top four cars were nose to tail.
Caution eight few on lap 420 when Jones, running eighth, and Almendinger got together in turn 3.
The leaders pitted; Hamlin with only two tires was out first; Larson, Johnson, Truex, Logano and Harvick followed. However, Larson was penalized for speeding (his first of the year) by NASCAR and sent to the rear of the field. That made the top five on the restart on lap 428; Hamlin, Johnson, Truex, Logano, and Harvick. Larson restarted 18th.
Hamlin held the lead with Johnson close behind. Johnson kept touch and retook the lead on lap 436; Truex followed and Hamlin fell into third. Logano and Harvick rounded out the top five. Kahne made an unscheduled stop on lap 438, and lost two laps.
With 50 laps to go, it was a battle between Johnson and Truex. Both side by side through traffic; Johnson high, Truex low.
Paul Menard, in ninth, spun on lap 461 trying to avoid a slow Kahne and caution nine came out.
Harvick and Hamlin stayed out as the rest of the leaders pitted. Truex was out first followed by Johnson, Larson (who took two tires), Ryan Newman and Logano. Truex was penalized for speeding.
On the restart with 32 laps to go the top five was Harvick, Hamlin, Larson Newman and Logano
Harvick led as Larson soon had second from Hamlin, as Johnson was holding off Logano behind. It was a mad scramble behind and soon Hamlin was fourth, Clint Bowyer fifth; Logano was 8th behind Matt Kenseth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Johnson charged past with 22 to go and got past Larson then Harvick for the lead. Suddenly Bowyer was second., Harvick third, Larson fourth. Kenseth was fifth.
With 10 laps to go the top five were Johnson, Bowyer, Harvick, Larson, and Kenseth. In the final laps the drama was behind the top three as Kenseth fought with Larson for fourth with Logano hovering close by. Kenseth was able to get fourth, as Johnson cruised to the win.
Bowyer overcame his speeding penalty to finish second, Harvick was third with Kenneth and JLogano rounding out the top five.
Behind Larson in sixth, Chase Elliott was seventh, Truex rallied to eight, as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top 10.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Richmond International Raceway Sunday for the Toyota Owners 400 at 2:00 p.m. ET.