Rain was the name of the game Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway. It delayed the start of the race and went on to cause much more havoc when it brought the entire day to an end. When the skies opened up with two laps remaining, it was Carl Edwards leading the way after strategy paved his way to victory lane. The No.99 team decided to stay out on a late caution and that move ultimately won them the race.
The wild events of the day commenced early in the going. The third caution on Lap 65 was triggered by Parker Kligerman spinning. However, a battery pack fell out of Alex Bowman’s car, sending debris all-over the race track.
When the massive cleanup ended, Jimmie Johnson was pacing the field. A few laps after being passed by Matt Kenseth, Johnson’s day took a turn for the worse as a tire went down, causing Johnson to make an unscheduled pit stop. The issue put the No.48 team too far behind to be any sort of factor in the race.
Rain drops started falling once again on Lap 118 which prompted a three hour and 19 minute delay. Once the race resumed at 7:05 PM ET, Kenseth maintained the lead.
Trouble struck for Kenseth on Lap 156 when a spin by Cole Whitt forced drivers to check up in order to maneuver around the stopped car. As Kenseth checked-up, Timmy Hill didn’t as Hill plowed into the back of the No.20 car. Kenseth suffered damage to the back of his machine, but the damage didn’t keep him down as he was able to stay in contention for most of the night.
Carl Edwards began to show his nose towards the front of the field when he restarted fifth on Lap 285. He slowly moved forward from that point on. He exited pit road second during the ninth caution of the race, right behind Kevin Harvick.
Just like last week in Las Vegas, Harvick’s problems didn’t start until he held the top spot. Smoke began trailing out of the back of the No.4 car two laps before his motor let go and Harvick slammed into the wall.
Harvick laid down some oil on the track, which made it difficult for other drivers to slow up in order to avoid him. Keselowski couldn’t as his tires slid through the oil and he plowed into the back of Jamie McMurray, causing extensive damage to both cars.
Edwards held the lead on the ensuing restart. He opened up a commanding two second advantage over teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and cruised to the finish.
The finish wasn’t when the checkered flag flew, however. A mysterious caution came out with two laps to go. At the time, the reason for the caution was unknown, but following the race, the reasoning was revealed as a track light malfunction which triggered the caution lights to flip on.
A few seconds following the caution lights coming on, rain returned to the speedway, bringing a fitting end to the race. Edwards was still out front at that point and he proceeded to cross the finish line under the yellow flag to claim victory.
The victory is his first of the season and will likely earn him a spot in the Chase. He joins Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski as drivers with likely guaranteed Chase positions.
“We’re in the Chase. We’re gonna win this championship” a very confident Edwards said in victory lane. The No.99 team now has 22 weeks to prepare for a title run as they no longer has to pursue victories in order to earn a Chase spot.
Results via ESPN.com
|2||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||503||21||0||42||0||0|
|24||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||499||14||0||20||0||0|
|36||Martin Truex Jr.||Chevrolet||471||29||0||8||0||0|