How the Food City 500, the eighth race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, played out Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway:
WINNER: In a battle of the Busch brothers in the closing laps, Kyle Busch got the measure of his older brother Kurt to score his third win of the season. Kyle Busch overcame contact with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the second lap of the race to win for the eighth time at Bristol, most among active drivers.
Busch, who became the first driver since Terry Labonte in 1992 to start a season with eight consecutive top-10 finishes, took a chance on a caution with less than 20 laps to go to remain on the race track while a number of other leaders hit pit road for fresh tires.
Busch’s gamble paid off with a win in the spring race at the iconic short track for the second straight year.
“We’re crazy. We just do what we to do to try to win,” Busch said. “It was pretty awesome to be able to snooker those guys to get our win today at Bristol. I love this place. It was fun to battle it out with my brother there at the end.
“This Camry wasn’t the best today, but we made the most out of not having the best and got what we needed to at the end.”
With the win, Kyle Busch tied Lee Petty for 10th on the all-time list with 54 career Cup Series victories.
Kurt Busch, who came into Bristol with six Cup wins at the track, was seeking his first of the 2019 season and his first with new team Chip Ganassi Racing. He said he really wanted to take down his brother.
“That one was tough, I really wanted to beat him,” Kurt Busch said. “I was going to wreck him. I was wanting to stay close enough so that when we took we took the white (flag), I was just going to drive straight in to (turns) 3 and 4. I mean he’s already won, I figured he could give a little love to his brother. No, of course not.
“I wanted that one bad. I feel like him right now — all mad because I didn’t win.”
Joey Logano finished third, followed by Penske teammate Ryan Blaney and last week’s winner Denny Hamlin. Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top 10.
TOP-10 TUMULT: Blaney, trying to pass Newman, cut in front of his No. 6 Chevrolet and made contact before Chase Elliott ran into the back of Newman as the drivers battled inside the top 10 with less than 70 laps to go. Seconds later, Bowyer and Logano, who were racing side-by-side in the top five, made contact, causing Bowyer to cut a tire and run into the wall.
ROUGH RIDE: Kyle Larson, already having a tough day after an early vibration and an uncontrolled tire penalty, bumped the No. 52 Chevrolet of Bayley Currey on Turn 2, got loose and rammed into the wall in front of Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet, on lap 415, bringing out the caution.
STAGE 2: Logano won his third segment of the season and his third playoff point. Blaney took second, followed by Newman, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Chris Buescher, Bowyer, Austin Dillon and Suarez. The Stage 2 winner had won the previous five races this season, beginning with Logano’s win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
STAGE 1: Ty Dillon, who stayed on the track instead of hitting pit road on a late caution in the opening segment, edged Bowyer by a nose for the Stage 1 win, his first in the Cup Series. Keselowski finished third, followed by Logano, Johnson, Kyle Busch, Blaney, Menard, Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott.
YOU SPIN ME ROUND: While Blaey and Bowyer battled for the lead with eight laps remaining, Ross Chastain tapped Daniel Hemric, sending the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet for a spin a bringing out the caution flag. Bowyer assumed the race lead, while many of the other leaders hit pit road.
LEADER SPINS: Ryan Preece cut his left rear tire and spun out while trying to stay on the lead lap just in front of race leader and pole winner Elliott on lap 39. Elliott’s No. 9 was tapped in the rear by Corey LaJoie, causing the No. 9 Chevrolet to also go for a spin on the front stretch.
EARLY INCIDENTS: William Byron, who started third, got loose on the track on lap 2 and made contact with Aric Almirola, forcing the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford into the wall. That incident backed up the rest of the field and triggered more contact when Stenhouse’s No. 17 Ford slammed into the rear end of Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota when Stenhouse couldn’t slow down in time.
Almirola took his car to the garage, ending his race before it really began. He finished 37th, ending a streak of six consecutive top 10s that began in the second race of the season. “The 24 (Byron) just got loose under me,” Almirola said. “He struggled to get going on the initial start. He spun his tires and then was just loose and out of control that whole first lap. When we went down in turn one he lost it under me and wiped us out.”
TO THE REAR: Kevin Harvick failed inspection three times and was hit with penalties. Harvick’s No. 4 was forced to drop to the rear of the field and serve a pass-thru penalty when the green flag dropped.
Sunday at the 0.53-mile Bristol Motor Speedway (starting position in parentheses):
1. (17) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 500.
2. (27) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 500.
3. (7) Joey Logano, Ford, 500.
4. (3) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 500.
5. (5) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 500.
6. (9) Paul Menard, Ford, 500.
7. (8) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 500.
8. (20) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 500.
9. (11) Ryan Newman, Ford, 500.
10. (10) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 500.
11. (1) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 500.
12. (21) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 500.
13. (13) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 500.
14. (15) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 500.
15. (24) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 500.
16. (2) William Byron, Chevrolet, 500.
17. (23) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 499.
18. (12) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 499.
19. (16) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 499.
20. (28) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 499.
21. (22) David Ragan, Ford, 498.
22. (25) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 498.
23. (14) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 497.
24. (4) Erik Jones, Toyota, 497.
25. (30) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 496.
26. (31) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 495.
27. (29) Matt Tifft, Ford, 494.
28. (18) Michael McDowell, Ford, 493.
29. (37) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 491.
30. (26) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 490.
31. (34) Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 488.
32. (36) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 476.
33. (19) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 395.
34. (32) Corey LaJoie, Ford, Accident, 308.
35. (35) Timmy Hill, Toyota, Suspension, 239.
36. (33) Gray Gaulding, Ford, Engine, 142.
37. (6) Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 3.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 90.527 mph.
Time of Race: 2 hours, 56 minutes, 38 seconds.
Margin of Victory: 0.722 seconds.
Caution Flags: 11 for 77 laps.
Lead Changes: 21 among 9 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Elliott 1-38; C. Bowyer 39-40; R. Blaney 41; D. Hamlin 42-48; E. Jones 49-58; R. Blaney 59-117; C. Bowyer 118-123; T. Dillon 124-129; B. Keselowski 130-144; J. Logano 145-255; R. Blaney 256-353; J. Logano 354-374; C. Bowyer 375-377; J. Logano 378; C. Bowyer 379-383; K. Busch 384-408; C. Bowyer 409-416; J. Logano 417; K. Busch 418-444; B. Keselowski 445-469; J. Logano 470-481; K. Busch 482-500.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Ryan Blaney 3 times for 158 laps; Joey Logano 5 times for 146 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 71 laps; Brad Keselowski 2 times for 40 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 38 laps; Clint Bowyer 5 times for 24 laps; Erik Jones 1 time for 10 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 7 laps; Ty Dillon 1 time for 6 laps.