Friday, Jan 21

It was a tale of two days for Roush Fenway’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and NASCAR Xfinity Series teams this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

 

The Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 from Bristol Motor Speedway was not the best race in 2017 for Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed and Darrell Wallace Jr.

 

In qualifying early Saturday Morning, Reed qualified 24th and Wallace Jr. qualified 14th. However, both drivers had to start in the rear of the field. In pre-race technical inspection, NASCAR found an unapproved splitter mount on both the cars.

 

For Reed, the first stage of the race was his last. After dropping to the rear of the field to serve his penalty, he began to make strides towards the front. Due to a tight handling race car in the early stages, Reed was put a lapped down by the leaders. Reed never had the chance to make a pit stop to fix the issue.

 

Reed’s day ended on lap 79 of the 300 lap event. The right front tire blew sending Reed into the wall. Reed also suffered a sprain to his wrist as he did not let go of the steering wheel in time before contact was made. Reed and his team deemed the car as unrepairable to finish 38th

 

“It was a tough day altogether, starting in the back,” said Reed.  “The balance wasn’t very good and we went a lap down early.  We were trying to fight through it, but had a tire go down and that ended our day.  We’ll move on.  We’ll go to Richmond, which is one of my favorite tracks, and rebound.  The good thing about getting a win at Daytona is that buys you some insurance in case you have some days like this, so we’ll rebound.  I’m really proud of everyone on the Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang.  It’s a tough group mentally and physically, so we’ll persevere.”

 

After getting out of the car, Reed though his wrist was fractured. However, He went to social media to confirm it was just a sprain.

 

 

For Wallace Jr., his day ended with 40 laps remaining ending his streak of five consecutive sixth place finishes.

 

In the first stage, Wallace Jr. worked his way towards the top-15 after starting from the rear. He improved over 20 positions in the stage, but went a lap down to the leaders due to a long green flag run. Wallace finished 15th in the first stage.

 

The second stage saw Wallace Jr. fighting to get his lap back that he lost in the first stage. Wallace Jr. battled Matt Tifft for that free pass position through much of the second and third stage.  However, an accident on lap 259 that damaged the left rear of the car regulated Wallace Jr. to a 33rd place finish, tying his worst finish of the season at Daytona.

 

“It’s just an unfortunate day,” said Wallace. “I was just fighting hard for the lucky dog.  We were put in the back for some circumstances we’ve got to get straightened out, but we were trying to make the most of it. We were fast.  We were so fast there with our Leidos Mustang. It’s just unfortunate. We were clawing ourselves out of that lap-down spot and just ran out of time and ran out of luck.

 

The Food City 500 provided Roush Fenway’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers, Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., with the best luck of the weekend for the organization. Both drivers ran up front most of the day and ended up with top-11 finishes.

 

Bayne started in the 12th position due to qualifying being cancelled on Friday. Bayne maintained a top-20 position throughout much of the first stage. As the track rubbered up, Bayne began to experience a tight handling race car towards the end of the stage. Bayne finished the stage in the 15th position.

 

The second stage Bayne continued to work on his handling working his way up into the top-10. Bayne held off Stenhouse Jr. towards the conclusion to score two points by finishing in the ninth position.

 

The third stage saw Bayne going from tight conditions in the middle of the corners and loose on corner entry. Bayne was on and off in the top-10. Using the top lane, Bayne gained track position to finish in the 11th position to score his sixth top-15 finish of 2017.

 

Just like Bayne, Stenhouse Jr. ran up front throughout much of the race and scored a ninth place finish.

 

Stenhouse was almost going to a backup car after contact with the wall in the only practice session on Friday, but the team repaired the car to full glory for the race.

 

Stenhouse held onto a position in the top-20 throughout much of the first stage. while battling a loose car. Once the loose condition was treated, Stenhouse marched his way to the front of the field. Stenhouse worked his way towards the top-10 at the conclusion of the second stage.

 

Stenhouse used the high lane to work his way up to seventh, but ultimately ended up in the ninth position in the Food City 500.

The Food City 500 for Kyle Busch was one that he would like to soon forget. The five-time winner was set to compete for his sixth victory at the 0.533-mile track, but tire issues plagued the driver.

 

Busch was fastest all weekend in practice sessions, but was did not show speed on Monday.

 

Busch slapped the wall the first time on lap 211, but was able to bring the car down pit road for repairs. When repairs were complete, Busch was 23rd and the last car on the lead lap.

 

Busch had battled up into the top-10 before the tire exploded the second time on lap 385. This time the damage was worse than the first one sending Busch and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team behind the wall and out of the race.

 

Busch was baffled by what partook on the track.

 

“I didn’t need anything, I was the fastest one out there those last two runs picking cars off and driving from the back to the front after we lost our track position the first time. We had our issues and we were trying to march our way back up towards the front and get there and thought we were doing a good job of that and trying to be conservative with the tires because obviously they can’t make it through a full distance for us for some reason,” said Busch. “I don’t know, I don’t know if it’s fundamentally wrong what we’re doing, but it seems like all the rest of our five JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) cars are fine.”

 

Unlike previous tire issues, Busch was advised not to blame Goodyear for the problems.

 

Goodyear determined that the issues were bad bead related, not heat related. Goodyear made no further comment about the issues.

 

Busch was the only driver in the field to experience tire issues throughout the Food City 500. Because of the issues, Busch finished in the 35th position. He currently sits 11th in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points just 146 points behind leader Kyle Larson.

After a late race charge from Clint Bowyer and pit road penalties for Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson was able to win the rain-delayed Food City 500 from Bristol Motor Speedway, his second win of 2017.

 

“Yeah, it was kind of interesting because when the No. 42 (Kyle Larson) was there, it just created an environment to run the top and I wasn’t as good on the top. The No. 42, not being up there and that first couple of cars; the bottom was really where it was at for the short run. This Lowe’s Chevrolet was flying!”

 

"I’m so happy to give everybody at A.O. Smith a good ride on the quarter panel this weekend. We wouldn’t be here without a ton of support from Valvoline, Gatorade, the fans, Lowe’s, and Chevrolet. This track has been difficult over the years and we really hit on something Saturday afternoon in that last practice session around the bottom and honestly, it’s what I’ve been looking for here for 16 years and we finally figured it out. So, I’m very very happy.”

 

This is Johnson’s 82nd career win. He is only one win behind Cale Yarborough and two wins behind Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip on the all time career wins list. This is Johnson’s second career victory at Bristol; He scored his first in 2010.

 

Bowyer was considered “Mr. Where Did He Come From?” in the closing laps of the race. A caution or a few more laps could have gave Bowyer the win. Despite being disappointed in a second place finish, this is Bowyer’s best finish of 2017. This is also Bowyer’s best Cup Series finish since driving for Michael Waltrip Racing in the spring race at Richmond in 2013.

 

“Yeah, you have to put it into perspective. We’ve come a long way with this team. These guys have worked so hard; it’s a fun group, everybody at Haas. My teammates are awesome. It’s so much fun to work with this group each and every week. Hell yeah you want to be up there and win it. But the day we had, I got caught speeding on pit road and had to bounce back,” said Bowyer. “The guys kept working on the car. I appreciate the opportunity that Gene Haas and Tony Stewart gave me. Mobil 1, Haas Automation and everyone that’s a part of it.”

 

Kevin Harvick sat quietly in the front of the field for the 500 lap event. Harvick led 14 of the 500 laps to finish in the third position.

 

“I thought our Jimmy Johns Ford was the fastest car, we just needed track position. I think we showed how fast it was there on no tires and kind of able to hold our own,” said Harvick. “You just never know where you’re going to come out on those restarts. I felt like we had a couple cautions and we were in control of the race with the 11 on two tires and we might have had a chance. A good weekend and we’ll just keep going.” 

 

Larson, who won the first stage, finished in the sixth position. Larson led 202 laps, but a late race pit road speeding penalty bit Larson and his chance for a second victory in 2017.

 

“I’m a little disappointed, but not bad.  I’m more disappointed in myself from getting that speeding penalty with 80 (laps) or so to go.  I was just pushing it down pit road and pushed it a little too far.  I had a shot there still at the end, but four tires were better than ours,” said Larson.

 

Truex Jr, who won the second stage, finished in the eighth position. Truex also received a late race speeding penalty sending him to the end of the field.

 

“We were going for it you know. Wish we could have had a shot there just to see if we could have won. This Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota with everyone that helps us make it right – Toyota, TRD 5-hour, Wix, Bass Pro and just everybody. This is the best run we’ve had here in a long time. It’s bittersweet, I wish we could have seen if we could have beat the 48 (Jimmie Johnson). We were close there before that last caution, but it is what it is and you try to get what you can get and sometimes you cross the line and today we crossed the line,” said Truex Jr. about the penalty

 

The Food City 500 was slowed nine times for 76 laps. There were 14 lead changes amongst seven drivers. The race was stopped once for a red flag on lap 67 for five minutes and 10 seconds.

 

Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the Toyota Owner’s 400 from Richmond International Raceway. FOX and Motor Racing Network will have the broadcast beginning at 1:30 p.m. EST on Sunday April 30th.

Due to persisting rains and the time to try Bristol Motor Speedway. NASCAR has cancelled qualifying for the Food City 500 on Sunday. Qualifying was scheduled for later on in the afternoon.

The Food City 500 will be set according to the NASCAR Rule Book. Kyle Larson will start from the pole position.

Instead of qualifying, Cup cars will hit the track at 3:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1. That practice session will run until 3:55 p.m. EST.

The revised Friday schedule shapes up as this:
-- 1-1:55 p.m.: NASCAR K&N Pro Series practice
-- 2-2:55 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series practice
-- 3-3:55 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice

The NASCAR Sprint Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck series teams have wrapped up a long weekend at the 0.533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway, a weekend that began on Wednesday, August 17th. Here are my five takeaways from this weekends events at Bristol Motor Speedway:

  1. Weather: Weather was once again a factor all weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. Weather, unfortunately, is a major key when it comes to NASCAR. The running joke, “if you ever wanted to end a drought, send NASCAR into town”, held true. Weather, in my opinion effected the action on Saturday night into Sunday for the Sprint Cup Race. Hopefully, the rest of the 2016 will be free from weather.
  2. Rosin/Resin: This sticky stuff placed on the bottom groove at Bristol seemed to work. I would have liked to see how this substance would work without the rain. I found it interesting for this substance to be effective, it had to be heated up. The weather washed off some of this substance. However, what was left on the track provided for some great racing all weekend long. Should we see this substance added to more speedways?
  3. Kyle Busch: It is a love/hate relationship amongst fans when it comes to Kyle Busch. Busch talked to the media after the Xfinity Series race and after his accident on Sunday in the Cup race. His comments were made after coming out of the heat of the battle. I would rather have a champion that speaks what is on his mind instead of one who keeps quiet instead of calling it the way it truly is.
  4. NCWTS Race: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race was a huge indicator when it came to the rosin/resin on the racetrack at Bristol. The trucks were the guinea pigs, and the test was successful and an indicator into how the weekend would be. The race also featured a new first time winner in NASCAR, Ben Kennedy.
  5. Speedway Motorsports Inc.: I applaud Bruton Smith, Marcus Smith, Jerry Caldwell, and the entire team at Bristol Motor Speedway for trying something outside of the box. Bristol and SMI took a risk move to try to make the racing at Bristol to what fans seem to remember from the “good ole days”. The risk taken seemed to be successful. I love the motto Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Bruton Smith use, “We work for the fans”, because this weekend shows that everyone at SMI is concerned with the on track action taking place on their speedways.

What are your five takeaways from this weekends events at Bristol Motor Speedway?

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