By: Pete Pistone – @PPistone | MRN.com on April 24, 2017 | 4:22 P.M. EST
Johnson followed up his win at Texas Motor Speedway with his 82nd career series win, which was only his second at Bristol. (Photo: Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson scored his second consecutive win of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season when he took the checkered flag in Monday’s rain-delayed Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Johnson followed up his win at Texas Motor Speedway with his 82nd career series win, which was only his second at Bristol.
“This track has been really difficult for me over the years,” said Johnson, who led 81 of 500 laps. “Huge credit to Mr. Hendrick and the place he lets us work. My guys nailed their pit stops all day long. This track has always been very racy. Now that we can run two or three-wide, we can put on a heckuva show.”
Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano rounded out the top five.
Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Denny Hamlin completed the first 10 finishers.
Larson and Truex Jr. won the day’s opening two stages.
The race was slowed by nine cautions. There were seven race leaders and 14 changes for the lead.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Richmond International Raceway for next Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400.
How Johnson Won: Johnson had to race hard for the top spot in a torrid battle that saw him fight off Larson, Hamlin, Harvick, Logano and others with multiple lines being used by each driver. Once he did wrestle the top spot away, he did pull away to a relatively comfortable advantage to take the checkered flag.
Who Had a Good Day: Bowyer had a speeding penalty to battle back from but did so to score his best finish since joining Stewart-Haas Racing this season and top Bristol performance in 23 starts…Kenseth also was pegged for speeding but rallied back to notch his best finish of the 2017 season…Logano’s fifth-place finish was his seventh top-10 performance of the year, tops in the series.
Who Had a Bad Day: Kurt Busch had five Bristol wins coming into the weekend. But his chance at number six went out the window early when he got caught up in an accident with Chris Buescher…Dale Earnhardt Jr. had high hopes after getting his first top-five in more than a year last time out in Texas. But that optimism went out the window on Sunday when something broke in his car’s oil system and caused him to spin and crash into the wall…A multi-car accident swept up David Ragan and Danica Patrick. Unfortunately for Patrick she was done for the day with damage from the incident…Brad Keselowski had a fast car in the first half of the race but was plagued by mechanical problems to take him from contention…Kyle Busch came back from an early race tire problem to get back inside the top-10. But he slammed the wall hard after a tire blew on lap 384 ending any hopes for a complete comeback…Erik Jones won the XFINITY Series race and was impressive on Sunday as well until he crashed on lap 420.
What Else Happened: The track was a mystery when things started thanks to the heavy rains the came down on Sunday and the application of a fresh coat of VHT, a substance applied to the inside groove of the track to provide grip. Early on the inside line was the fast way around but gradually a second lane began to form near the top. That’s where Larson spent a lot of his day, leading a race-high 202 laps, but his hopes for a win were foiled by a pit road speeding penalty. Same for Truex Jr. who also was pegged for the same infraction. But the day will be remembered for the intense racing that saw groups of 4 and 5 cars swapping positions and battling for the top spot down the stretch on a day that will certainly be remembered for some very competitive racing.
Quotable: “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.” – Kyle Busch
Notable: Harvick notched his best finish of 2017, previous was fourth at Texas last race…Stenhouse Jr. scored his fifth top-10 finish at Bristol, his most of all tracks…Kyle Busch suffered his fourth DNF accident in the last five races at Bristol.