With rain showers coming and going at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway on Sunday, the Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race started nearly an hour and 45 minutes late after its originally scheduled start time, and drivers ran 124 laps of the 500-lap scheduled distance before rain halted the action. At the time of the red flag, Matt Kenseth was credited with the race lead, with Jamie McMurray, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in second through fifth. That is the order in which they came off pit road after a caution on lap 118.
The lap-118 caution was a result of Jimmie Johnson’s right-front tire coming apart. Johnson took only left-side tires during a lap-50 competition caution and was still running on the rights with which he started the race.
“The tire has air in it and is fine over there, it’s just the tread came off the top of it,” Johnson said. “That slowed me down, lost control. I thought I had a flat. Came to pit road; the tire wasn’t flat, but the tread isn’t on it anymore.”
Denny Hamlin started the race on the pole with Brad Keselowski alongside in second. Keselowski took the lead on the second lap and was joined up front soon after by Team Penske teammate Joey Logano.
Logano also had problems just before the red flag. He took the lead from Keselowski just before the lap-50 caution, but awhile afterward, he lost his power steering and fell back through the field. By the lap-118 caution, he was a lap down.
“There’s so much load here, and the car is pressing so hard down on the race track that it makes it so hard to steer,” Logano said. “It feels like it’s working against you. I was already huffing and puffing pretty hard, trying to get the thing to turn.”
Kenseth took the lead from Johnson just past lap 100 and was still up front when the yellow flag waved on lap 118. He then got off pit road first during the caution to maintain the position until the red flag.
Track drying efforts resulted in drivers eventually being called back to their cars, but rains came again, delaying the restart of the race further. If the race doesn’t get to halfway on Sunday, a noon ET restart time has been set for Sunday.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR.