Event: Food City 500 (Round 8 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (125 laps/125 laps/250 laps)
Start/Finish: 8th/7th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 11th (234 points, 127 out of first)
Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Ty Dillon of Germain Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):
● Clint Bowyer started seventh and finished second.
● Bowyer jumped to fifth in the opening laps before the race’s first caution on lap six. He moved to second on lap 10.
● Bowyer led laps 39 and 40 when leader Chase Elliott spun. A caution brought the field to pit lane and he restarted second.
● Despite a tight-handling car, Bowyer took over the lead with just seven laps remaining in the stage, leading laps 118 to 123.
● A caution saw all but Bowyer and two others visit pit lane.
● Bowyer restarted first for the final two laps, but Ty Dillon edged him by a few feet for the stage victory.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):
● Bowyer started 15th and finished eighth.
● Bowyer started back in the field because he elected to pit during the stage break and not in the final laps of Stage 1 like most of the field.
● Bowyer turned some of the quickest laps on track and climbed back into the top-five by lap 213.
● Bowyer appeared ready to climb even higher, but he was blocked on a restart by another car and reported his car wouldn’t turn.
● Bowyer held on to finish eighth.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 251 -500):
● Bowyer started seventh and finished seventh.
● Bowyer climbed to fourth by lap 275, third by lap 285 and second by lap 355, then took the lead on lap 375.
● After a round of pit stops Bowyer found himself in third closing in on the leaders.
● Bowyer’s bid for victory ended when he and Joey Logano made contact as they battled for second with about 60 laps remaining.
● The cut tire sent the No. 14 into the wall then to pit road for repairs.
● Bowyer remained on the lead lap but dropped to 15th and struggled because of the damage.
● He held his position until a caution with 15 to go saw the No. 14 stay on the track while the leaders pitted.
● Bowyer restarted in sixth and climbed to fourth before the cars with fresher tires dropped him to seventh in the final laps.
● Bowyer earned his fourth top-10 of the season and his 14th top-10 in 27 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol.
● This was Bowyer’s third straight top-10 and his third consecutive top-10 at Bristol. He has finished in the top-10 all but once at Bristol since joining SHR in 2017.
● This was Bowyer’s 200th career top-10 in 477 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts.
● Bowyer finished second in Stage 1 to earn nine bonus points and eighth in Stage 2 to earn an additional two bonus points.
● Bowyer led five times for 24 laps to increase his laps-led total at Bristol to 281.
● Kyle Busch won the Food City 500 to score his 54th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-leading third of the season and his eighth at Bristol. His margin of victory over second-place Kurt Busch was .722 of a second.
● There were 11 caution periods for a total of 77 laps.
● Only 16 of the 37 drivers in the Food City 500 finished on the lead lap.
● Kyle Busch leaves Bristol as the championship leader with a 27-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.
Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Mustang:
“We had a good car, it’s just horribly disappointing. You get that close. Long runs were my strong suit. I couldn’t take off all day long. Some of those things made sense. We were down a little bit on air and it took a little bit of time for them to come in. The problem is when you balance around that and you just pump the air-pressure up, then it doesn’t work either and you don’t handle there. It’s just disappointing.
“(Logano) and I just barely touched and it must have cut the valve stem out of it or something and hit it just right. Maybe his fender caught it or something. That’s about typical luck for here. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. We put ourselves in position. Our Stewart-Haas Ford was good, our Haas Automation Mustang, I wanted to get that thing in victory lane. It’s such a good-looking car. I think it’s racy looking. I appreciate Gene Haas and the opportunity, I just didn’t get it done.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Richmond 400 on Saturday, April 13 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.