Matt Kenseth added himself to the list of 2015 winners with a victory in the Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes. After taking the lead prior to the race’s final caution, Kenseth maintained the top spot in a green-white-checkered finish.
Kenseth’s win at the 0.533-mile track comes 51 races since his last triumph in September 2013 at Loudon. The win also adds him into the championship hunt with a spot in the Chase Grid.
In Victory Lane, Kenseth spoke about how the win meant a lot to him after going winless in 2014.
“Last year was tough and not winning again this year had been tough,” said Kenseth. “I’ve been trying to put myself in a position to finally get one.”
Jimmie Johnson worked his way up through the field to finish second after a couple of incidents earlier in the night. Jeff Gordon, who at one point had been two laps down, finished in third. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Ryan Newman closed out the top five. The top five was the first one for Stenhouse since the Food City 500 a year ago.
Rain played a factor throughout the day at Bristol. The race began an hour and a half late due to a rain delay. Once the race went green, the Sprint Cup Series field raced for 22 laps until a collision between Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, which brought out the day’s first caution.
The caution soon turned into a lengthy red flag as rain made its presence at the track. Four hours later, the race resumed as a Bristol night race.
Before the race resumed, a driver change was made on the No. 11 team as Erik Jones substituted Denny Hamlin. Hamlin sat out the remainder of the race due to neck spasms.
“I just pulled something in my neck and upper back on Lap 12, the pain was bothering me quite a bit,” said Hamlin.
Jones, who made his first Cup Series appearance, would not have his debut count as his official Cup debut since he did not start the race. Hamlin will still receive points since he started the race.
Kurt Busch’s crew chief Tony Gibson also left the race during the rain delay due to kidney stones.
The race at Bristol turned into a rough one for some of the 2015 race winners.
Kevin Harvick, who went into Bristol as the championship leader, was involved in an incident on Lap 311 that sent him behind the wall. Harvick had led 184 laps.
Harvick, along with Logano and Martin Truex, Jr., went into Bristol with top 10 finishes from the seven races prior to Bristol. Their top 10-finish streak came to an end after each driver had been involved in wrecks.
Heading out of Bristol, the Cup Series now moves onto Richmond for a second straight week of short track racing. Short track racing and tempers will continue once more under the lights on Saturday night.