Carl Edwards won the 54th Annual Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway despite the weather delays. Edwards won his 22nd career victory, under yellow flag conditions on lap 503, in 341 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
This is Edwards first win of the 2014 season, and his third top-10 finish. Edwards now has three victories at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“We’re in the Chase and we’re going to go out and win the championship,” Edwards said in victory lane as the rain returned. “I just can’t believe we turned this thing around, we were…it was terrible Saturday (during practice), just glad we turned this thing around.”
Edwards beat Aric Almirola on the final restart of the race with 40 laps remaining and drove off while Almirola and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. battled for the second position. Stenhouse Jr. held off Almirola.
Roush Fenway Racing teammate Stenhouse Jr. finished second, admitted, “I was thinking that I would use the bumper if the opportunity was there. If you get the win, you’re in the Chase and you can let the rest take care of itself later…I was thinking about doing whatever I could do to win.”
Edwards had a sizable lead when suddenly the caution lights came on for no apparent reason with three laps remaining. NASCAR then made the call to end the race, as it immediately started to pour rain under the caution, giving the victory to Edwards.
NASCAR said after the race that someone in the flag-stand accidentally leaned on a switch to trigger the lights. NASCAR was then forced to issue a full caution ‘when we realized that the override switch was on and they were hung on caution.”
After the caution lights were turned on, ‘we froze the field from the tower,’ NASCAR added.
Weather in the area delayed the race by more than five hours, the race was scheduled for a 1:13 p.m. green flag, but the race didn’t begin until 2:57 p.m. The drivers completed 124 laps when NASCAR dropped the red flag, as drivers parked their cars on pit road to wait out the rain delay about 3:45 p.m.
After three hours and 19 minutes, the race became a cold, night race under the lights beginning at 7:17 p.m., with Matt Kenseth at the helm.
After two stops under the yellow caution to repair the damage, Kenseth restarted in 29th the second to last car on the lead lap.
Within 22 laps with the competition caution NASCAR mandated due to the inclement weather. Kenseth didn’t pit and moved to 16th and by the halfway mark of 250 laps, Kenseth was able to drive into the top five, with a little over 200 laps remaining Kenseth was leading once again.
Kenseth led a race high of 164 laps, but slipped from first to third due to damage on the rear end created trouble for changing the rear tires. Kenseth finished 13th on the lead lap.
With the rain delay at Bristol, another bizarre occurrence was some of the bigger names in NASCAR, who led the race, experienced tire problems, mechanical failure or crashes. Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch all finished outside the top-10.
The next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 23, 2014 on Fox with coverage beginning at 3:00 p.m. eastern standard time.