The Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway is always a tough race to win, and can cause problems for even the strongest of race teams. The racetrack known as the “World’s Fastest Half Mile” can, and will, chew you up and spit you out if you aren’t careful. Experience and track position are both necessary in order to survive the .533 mile racetrack, and the best of the best shine through. Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Joey Logano each had eventful days of their own. Though struggles were prominent, and bad luck seemed to be lurking around every corner, the JGR trio fought hard all day long and made the most of lackluster performances.
Busch finished 9th in the Food City 500 and was able to run as high as 7th during the race. Busch rallied back for a top-10 finished after suffering a blown tire on lap 265 of the 500 lap race. He had struggled with the car even before the tire gave way, and originally assumed over the scanner that they would be done for the day. However, the team continued to make repairs and adjust on the racecar and was able to come away from the race with a top 10 finish. Busch is now 10th in the standings, 168 points out of the lead and 21 points above 13th. He is 8 points below 9th.
“The guys never gave up and I never gave up and somehow we got a decent finish out of it,” said Busch. “We need to do some more work for when we bring this M&M’s Camry back here in August. We want to run better, but you need to make the bad days the best you can if you want to make the Chase and have a shot at a championship. We did what we needed to do today.”
Hamlin is one driver that will be happy to leave Bristol Motor Speedway. After suffering a cut tire on lap 117 and two pit road speeding penalties, the No. 11 team came away with a 19th place finish and a beat up racecar. A top 20 finish isn’t too bad considering the circumstances, but is clearly not the finish the team was looking for. Hamlin is now 19th in points, 259 points out of the lead and 86 points out of 12th. He is 37 points behind 18th.
“We fought an ill handling car most of the day,” said Hamlin. “We just couldn’t get any grip. The FedEx Express team did everything we could — we just couldn’t find a solution to our problem. When we cut down the tire that definitely put us in a bad situation. We struggled through the race to get better, but never did all afternoon. I’m just looking forward to Martinsville, that’s where I’ve had most of my success. Hopefully we’ll have a better run in our FedEx Toyota.”
Logano led the field to the green flag after winning the pole position on Friday, and that was basically the highlight of the race for the No. 20 team. Though he was able to lead a couple of laps in the race, Logano quickly fell back to fourth a few laps after the green flag flew and fought a tight handling racecar early on. After falling off the pace around lap 90, Logano pitted a few laps later and lost three laps. Logano was also involved in a late race caution, one of 13 cars to suffer damage from the pileup on lap 347. Then, with about 20 laps to go, Logano smacked the wall and had to make yet another pitstop. This time, the contact left some debris on the racetrack and forced NASCAR to call a caution. Logano would finish the race 27th, five laps off the pace. He is now 17th in points, 216 out of the lead, 43 points out of the 12th, and 21 out of 16th.
The next race will be at Martinsville Speedway for the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500. Coverage starts at 1PM ET on FOX.