Rain forced the postponement of the Food City 500 in Bristol, forcing the race to be played out Monday before a meager crowd. Fans who had to go back to work could not attend Monday’s race and missed a very good short-track race.
The old Bristol track was asphalt, which produced exciting, one-groove racing with drivers using the bump and run in order to progress to the front, but when the track was repaved with cement several years ago, it led to very boring racing.
NASCAR sprayed the inside track with VHT, a substance similar to rubber cement. It enticed the teams to the bottom early but, as the track rubbered up, the racing went to a two-groove track, producing the best race so far this year.
Kyle Larson led all the laps in stage one, winning the stage. He continued to lead until lap 201 when Truex Jr. took over the lead. Larson continued racing within the top 5 for most of the race until a pit road speeding penalty sent him to the rear. He still managed a sixth-place finish. Despite the rollercoaster day, that was enough for Larson to expand his points lead to 27 over Chase Elliott, who finished seventh.
For the second week in a row, Jimmy Johnson showed why his team is the best as he came from an 11th-place starting position to win the race. He finally took the lead on lap 394 and led 81 of the last 106 laps. The win was Johnson’s 82nd. He sits seventh in all-time wins, one behind Cale Yarborough.
“To be in this position is quite an honor,” Johnson said. “I honestly wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for Chad Knaus, Rick Hendrick, Jeff Gordon, Lowe’s, all the consistent things I’ve had in my career. This has really been the environment for me to thrive in.”
With Yarborough one ahead, two more Hall-of-Famers in Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison sit at 84. As most would expect Johnson to top those men by the end of his career, the real question is if he can hit 100 wins.
“I don’t think 100 is achievable,” Johnson admitted. “I hope I’m wrong. I would love to clearly do that. I have always felt that is such a big number. With as competitive as our sport is, the new twist of stage racing and what it’s done to our series, that’s going to be a hard number to get to.”
Tires have been quite a problem for Kyle Busch at Bristol Motor Speedway. After blowing multiple Goodyear tires one year ago, the issue continued into Monday’s Food City 500 when Busch cut two tires. Short with words, Busch said, “You need to have good rubber if you are able to race on a multi-groove racetrack.”