Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jimmie Johnson Takes Golden Win at Bristol

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The first short track event on the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, the running of the Food City 500 at 0.533 mile Bristol Motor Speedway was an anticipated fan pleaser. The close quarter stock car battles and Saturday Night racing roots has reflected on the Bristol track grandstands morphing the once humble short track into a 160,000 spectator NASCAR stadium.

Friday pole winner Joey Logano in the #20 Home Depot Toyota led the 43-car field for the first time in his short Sprint Cup career. Along with a new pole sitter, competitors immediately enjoyed the widened racing surface which reclaimed most of the room lost when the SAFER barrier was installed. A testament to a well-planned more by Bristol Motor Speedway track organizers, the first 100 laps of the race, there were 9 lead changes with the majority coming as legitimate passes, not pit stop exchanges. While Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski would score early Sprint Cup series bonus points for leading, 5-time Bristol winner Kurt Busch stepped up as an race favourite on the first lap. Fresh off the manic race at Atlanta, the Penske Racing-sponsored #2 Miller Lite Dodge was the lead car for 55% of the event's distance.

With only one caution Two short track favourites Clint Bowyer and David Reutimann both parked their cars due to engine problems. In fact, the fluid from Bowyer's #33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet drew the second caution of the Food City 500. Losing a cylinder, Reutimann's failed engine ended what was becoming a top-flight performance for the Aaron's #00 Toyota having been run in 3rd place prior to the lap 113 end. Only a few laps past David Reuitmann's retirement, the Bristol polesitter found trouble. After the first place start, Logano's poor luck at Bristol continued as his day went south early in the event. Dropping to 12th by lap 88, the orange #20 Toyota pitted 16 laps later under green for a flat tire. While Logano lost 3 laps as his Home Depot team tended to the #20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing troubles worsen as teammate Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx draw a caution on lap 115 when he slammed the wall in turn 2. Tire difficulties for the #18 car of Kyle Busch later on lap 263 completed a Joe Gibbs Racing trouble trifecta. However, Busch's #18 Toyota would overcome his tire problems to finish 9th.

The biggest wreck through the Food City 500 came on lap 342 with a turn 3 incident that damaged 13 cars. Contributed by Greg Biffle having radio issues where he could not hear his Roush-Fenway Racing spotter, the accident started on the backstretch. With the #5 Chevrolet of Mark Martin running on the outside, Biffle's #16 Ford edged up the track and drove Martin into the wall. Wounded by the wall impact, Martin's car continued slower and was unable to make the turn 3 corner. Along with Mark Martin, Juan Pablo Montoya and Marcus Ambrose suffered the worst damage within the large scale pileup.

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

With a wet weather outlook late in the afternoon, the Bristol Motor Speedway started under the optimism that rain would hold off for at least the completion of 500 laps. Ultimately, the race went the full distance despite two cautions resulting due to rain sprinkles which ate 40 laps as the dampness lifted from the concrete surface.

As Kurt Busch asserted authority over the lead position for a likely second-straight victory, the Food City 500 was slowed on lap 483 when a debris flag dropped on the Bristol Motor Speedway. Playing pit strategy with two tires instead of four, Roush-Fenway Racing Fords positioned themselves in the first three positions on the restart with Greg Biffle's #16, Matt Kenseth #17 and Carl Edwards #99.

On the final lap 490 restart, 4th place Tony Stewart driving his #14 Chevrolet stormed through the three-car Ford group taking the late lead two laps later. However, as Stewart's Chevrolet carved his way through the Blue Oval contingent, the Hendrick Motorsports #48 Lowes Chevy of Jimmie Johnson followed. With 4 laps to go, Johnson powered past Stewart to win his 50th NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

Lighting up the rear tires through a wide variety of burnouts on track, Johnson's celebration of his milestone win also involved smoking the Goodyear rubber against the dividing wall of the track and pit lane as well as on the way to victory lane. Having beaten the driver whom's nickname was Smoke, Jimmie Johnson seemingly wanted to take that away from Tony Stewart too after the Food City 500.

Photo Credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Likely unsatisfied as a 'true racer' driver with 2nd place in the Food City 500, Tony Stewart position as a car owner sees the season-best result in a much more positive light. Having dominated the Bristol Motor Speedway event throughout the day, Kurt Busch captured a 3rd place and elevated himself 5 spots in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup points. The Roush-Fenway Racing trio finished 4th through 6th with Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, and Carl Edwards. Embattled by the NASCAR probation and the heightened media attention reflecting back to the Atlanta incident, the #99 of Edwards comfortably raced even with Brad Keselowski in the Food City 500.

Always receiving a high amount of media coverage, Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr showed well in the Bristol race. Despite a pit road speeding penalty on lap 325, the #88 National Guard/Amp Energy Chevrolet dodged the lap 342 carnage to finish 7th on the day. With the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season proving better than 2009 for Earnhardt, he now sits 8th in series points.

Kevin Harvick continues to hold the points lead in NASCAR Sprint Cup recovering from another poor qualifying effort to finish 11th in the Food City 500. But the leading margin is only a single point over Matt Kenseth.

Food City 500
NASCAR Sprint Cup
Bristol Motor Speedway

Pos # | Car # | Driver | Sponsor/Car Make
1) 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
2) 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet
3) 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
4) 16 Greg Biffle U.S. Census Ford
5) 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Ford
6) 99 Carl Edwards Scotts Ford
7) 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet
8) 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Chevrolet
9) 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
10) 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
11) 29 Kevin Harvick Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet
12) 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Toyota
13) 12 Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge Dodge
14) 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
15) 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
16) 39 Ryan Newman Haas Automation Chevrolet
17) 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia/Best Buy Ford
18) 98 Paul Menard Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Ford
19) 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota
20) 19 Elliott Sadler Stanley Ford
21) 71 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet
22) 7 Robby Gordon Warner Music Nashville/Blake Shelton Toyota
23) 38 David Gilliland Taco Bell Ford
24) 26 David Stremme Air National Guard Ford
25) 34 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
26) 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
27) 20 Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota
28) 37 Kevin Conway Extenze Ford
29) 6 David Ragan UPS Ford
30) 90 Casey Mears Keyed-Up Motorsports Chevrolet
31) 82 Scott Speed Red Bull Toyota
32) 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Mobil 1 Dodge
33) 47 Marcos Ambrose Little Debbie Toyota
34) 9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Ford
35) 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
36) 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
37) 46 Terry Cook Whitney Motorsports Dodge
38) 00 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
39) 09 Aric Almirola Phoenix Construction/Graceway Chevrolet
40) 33 Clint Bowyer BB&T Chevrolet
41) 55 Michael Waltrip PRISM Motorsports Toyota
42) 66 Dave Blaney PRISM Motorsports Toyota
43) 87 Joe Nemechek ComputerWorks Toyota

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