Jimmie Johnson Wins Rain-Delayed Food City 500; Goes Back-To-Back In The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Seriesby Camille Jones April 24, 2017 0 comments
BRISTOL, Tenn.– There were no Monday blues for Jimmie Johnson as he took the victory in the rain-postponed Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
After capturing the lead with 21 laps to go, Johnson was able to hold off a hard-charging Clint Bowyer in the closing laps of Monday’s race. This was Johnson’s second victory in a row this season. He took home the win in early April at Texas Motor Speedway as well. The driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet was elated after capturing his second victory in 31 races at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“This track has been really difficult for me over the years,” said Johnson. “To be able to find what we did Saturday afternoon it’s honestly what I’ve been looking for, for 16 years up here. Really 18 years when I look at my two years in Xfinity, but huge credit to Mr. Hendrick and the environment and the place he lets us work. Huge thanks to Lowe’s and A.O. Smith for being on the quarter panel this weekend. My guys nailed their pit stops all day long. Great team effort, just a ton of fun out there racing. This track has always been very racy, but now that we can hunt the bottom and we can run two and three wide and put on a heck of a show for the fans.”
Bowyer sailed into a second-place finish, his fourth top-10 finish of the season. The driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Haas Automation Demo Days Ford rallied from a lap 326 pit road speeding penalty and into the top-10 in the closing laps to make his mark with a top-3 finish. Monday’s runner-up finish is Bowyer’s career-high effort at the track.
“We’ve come a long way with this team,” Bowyer said. “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. 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.”
Finishing in the third position was Kevin Harvick in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford. Harvick stayed out during the final caution and restarted the race with old tires. He was able to hold on to finish in the third position and claim his 16th top-10 finish in 33 starts at the half-mile track.
“I thought our Jimmy Johns Ford was the fastest car, we just needed track position,” Harvick said. “I think we showed how fast it was there on no tires and kind of able to hold our own. 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 (Denny Hamlin) on two tires and we might have had a chance. A good weekend and we’ll just keep going.”
Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano completed the top-five for the event. Pole sitter Kyle Larson led a race high of 202 laps, and finished sixth. Chase Elliott, Martin Truex, Jr., Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Denny Hamlin all finished in the top-10.
The race was broken up into three stages: 125 laps, 125 laps and 250 laps. Kyle Larson won Stage 1, while Martin Truex, Jr. won Stage 2. Johnson won the race, winning Stage 3.
There were nine cautions for a total of 78 laps throughout the 500-lap race.
On lap 56, the first caution of the day came out when Kurt Busch went for a spin and made contact with the inside retaining wall, while at the same time, Reed Sorenson slowed up to avoid the incident. Chris Buescher came into the corner and ran into the back of Sorenson. The accident resulted in a lengthy caution and clean up required a five minute red flag.
The Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Toyota of Kyle Busch met the wall twice before he retired his car from the race. His car had two blown tires which resulted in hard contact on lap 211 and 385. Busch finished 35th after starting seventh.
“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,” Busch said. “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. 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.”
On lap 219, the third caution was thrown immediately after a restart, when Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Hendrick No. 88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet slammed into the outside wall. The team noticed oil in his pit stall following the pit stop before the restart. He and his team had to eventually push the car back to his hauler after pulling behind the wall due to a busted oil cooler.
“We came out of the pits and there’s some oil in the pit stall I noticed when I was getting lined-up for double file, is smoking,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I don’t know why. But it’s got oil all over the engine compartment. So, in the corner, it just went straight in the wall.”
David Ragan drove up behind his teammate, Landon Cassill, before diving beneath him with Danica Patrick at the bottom of the track on lap 325. He created a three-wide situation, which ultimately resulted in the gap closing and Patrick and Ragan making hard contact into the outside wall.
“What happened with that, I’m not sure,” Patrick said. “I know that all of a sudden I heard, ‘three-wide’ and I don’t know. There was a wreck and I was the lucky winner.”
The No. 77 Sport Clips Toyota of Erik Jones suffered heavy body damage after contact with the outside wall with 78 laps to go. The incident also resulted in the No. 47 Kroger ClickList Chevrolet of AJ Allmendinger having heavy damage as the two collided.
The final accident of the day occurred when Paul Menard suddenly approached Kasey Kahne, who was rolling slowly in the high line on the track. Menard bumped into the back of Kahne’s Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet before spinning through the middle of the track. He was surprisingly not hit by any of the oncoming traffic as cars scattered around him.
Kyle Larson continues to lead the point standings, now by 27 points over Chase Elliott.
Another short-track race awaits the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series as they head to Richmond International Raceway next weekend for the Toyota Owners 400 on Sunday, April 30. Live coverage will be found on FOX and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images