OBSERVATIONS: Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol Motor Speedway caught a piece of every type of weather this weekend, but being able to survive through it enabled the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to put on the best race this season to date. 

The Food City 500 started off chaotic on Sunday afternoon as being over aggressive cost drivers early, namely Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr., after Michael McDowell got loose on Lap 4. You have to give both teams credit for sticking with it all weekend, returning Monday with wrecked cars to the end despite points not being worth a whole lot anymore. Really, the added experience could prove beneficial for Elliott. The No. 9 team has struggled for speed this year so lessons learned could prove important, along with the chemistry with crew chief Kenny Francis while Alan Gustafson serves his suspension.

There was also the factor of lap cars, too. Traffic is always a concern on the tight confines of Bristol being a half-mile oval, but that seemed to be tougher than usual with some of the back markers off the pace quite a bit. You have to feel for Ryan Blaney, and wonder if an increase in minimum speed is needed. That said, you can’t always blame the lap down cars – yes, I am looking at Kyle Larson. What else did he expect cutting across Ryan Newman‘s bumper? But he does get all the accolades for spinning around and getting back going with only losing two spots in the process. 

We’ve seen it before, but the Kyle vs. Kyle show at Bristol never gets old. Both Larson and Kyle Busch were masterful in utilizing the multiple grooves to their advantage, but the icing is the textbook bump-and-run by Busch for the victory. He didn’t wreck him, but rather simply moved him up a lane.

Point blank, the race was exceptional as there was passing all day long, with some close calls and even a bit of strategy. Hats off to NASCAR and the speedway on a job well done. Now, can we get some more short tracks on the schedule? 

Points To Ponder:

  • Starting a race, knowing it will get stopped before reaching the scheduled distance, or even worse shortly after by a simple glance at the radar just seems ridiculous. I get trying to do whatever you can to get the show in as scheduled, but something has to give.
  • Neat move by Bristol and the surroundings schools to let the kids have the day off and entice them to come out with free admission. That’s how you get the younger generation interested in the sport.
  • Hendrick Motorsports may have their struggles in the rear-view. After William Byron posted a top-10 last week at Texas Motor Speedway, both Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman scored top-fives at Bristol. It marks the first time the organization has placed two cars in the top-five since October 2017 at Dover International Speedway.
  • Paul Menard’s tire carrier deserves a pay raise.



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By Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.