For most of Sunday afternoon, the Monster Energy Cup Series fought Mother Nature as well as each other. However, Mother Nature ultimately won out.
Rain finally disrupted the race and set in and postponed the remainder of the Food City 500 until Monday, April 16. The race will resume at 1 p.m. and pick up from lap 204.
Kyle Larson, who started sixth in the 39-car field, is the race leader in the McDonald’s Chevy Camaro.
Sunday featured four red flags – three of which, including the last one, were for rain showers.
In the action, Larson held a sizeable lead before NASCAR brought the field onto pit road because of weather and red-flagged the 500-lap race after 204.
The sense of urgency with clouds looming Sunday seemed to heighten the always-high intensity at the high-banked, half-mile track.
Ryan Blaney looked to have a dominant car in the early going but a wreck took him out of contention after leading 100 laps in the No. 12 Team Penske Ford. He will finish 35th.
When the race resumes, Larson will be followed by Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Paul Menard in the Wood Brothers Racing Ford, Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Ricky Stenhouse in the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
Stenhouse rallied back into contention after spinning on Lap 61.
Chaotic was one way to describe the action in the race’s first stage.
It featured a nine-car pileup three laps into the race and saw the dominant car in the early going knocked out of the race.
By the time of a competition caution on Lap 50, two cars were already out of the race and five others were multiple laps down.
Included was reigning Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. He was one of nine cars that suffered some amount of damage in a pileup a few laps into the race. The melee started when Michael McDowell spun as he exited turn 4. McDowell qualified a season-best ninth and was a dark horse pick to win the race but finished 38th after the crash.
Blaney had a dominant car but made an early exit through no fault of his own.
Things happen fast at Bristol, and somebody else’s trouble can quickly become yours. That’s what happened to Blaney, who had nowhere to go except into the No. 51 driven by Harrison Rhodes while leading the race. Theirs were two of six cars involved the incident, which started when Chris Buescher and Trevor Bayne made contact on the backstretch.
Brad Keselowski was running behind Blaney but managed to escape without any damage and won the first stage.
The competition caution arrived at the perfect time for Jimmie Johnson. The race was red-flagged just prior to it. It was noted then that the right front tire was deflating. His team was able to change the tire under caution and he will be eighth when the race resumes.
Johnson qualified 17th but dropped to the rear of the field for the start of the race because his team changed tires after qualifying. Also starting at the back were Kevin Harvick and five-time Bristol winner Kurt Busch.
Busch slowed on Lap 185 and made an unscheduled pit stop. He was fifth at the time but is three laps down in 26th place. Harvick is shown in ninth place.