The late season race at Bristol is under the lights. The early race is supposed to be under the sun. There was no sun. Weather bounced Bristol with rain and was just south of snow which threatened much of Virginia. As the field rolled off the start it was delayed by 2 hours. At lap 117 the race was red-flagged for another 3 hours as rain came through again. The Food City 500 was eventually restarted and finished under the lights.
Rain is rain and racing at Bristol is racing at Bristol. The weather only changed the time. The lead changes, fender bangs and wall hits were all in the mix to shake the points. In the end it was Brad Keselowski packing up with the points lead despite a 14th place finish and the lack of a hood. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished 10 spots behind Keselowski which allowed the flip in the one-two points positions.
Carl Edwards earned his first back flip of the season managing to stay in front while Aric Almirola and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. fought for the second spot. Stenhouse managed the move and he and Almirola rolled over 2nd and 3rd making it a top 3 sweep for Ford. Tony Stewart shoved his Chevy into 4th while Marcos Ambrose rounded the top 5 with another Ford.
For points at four races in it is Keselowski, Earnhardt, Jr., Edwards, Gordon and Johnson filling the top 5. NASCAR packs the whole show up and ships it across the country to California then flips it all back to Virginia and Martinsville. Going from hitting the brakes at Bristol to opening up the throttle in California and bake to the brakes at Martinsville is bound to turn the heat up a bit more as drivers and teams are challenged with the changes.
For now, the racing is on for early season momentum. Hendrick has a good open with Dale Jr. and a Daytona win and 3 drivers in the top 5. Penske has some push with good starts and a win with Keselowski and a points lead. Roush-Fenway has a win with Carl Edwards and even Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is holding a top 10. Stewart-Haas has a foot in the door with a Harvick win and a recent top 5 finish for Stewart himself. Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth have Joe Gibbs Racing in the top 10 and Richard Childress even has a toehold with Ryan Newman making a presence in the points top 10.
We’re only four races in and the points now may have nothing in common with the points later in the season. For now, however, there are plenty of reasons for fans to be rallied behind their drivers. There is a lot of racing left in the season just as there is a lot of racing from any green flag to any checkered flag. The time is now to go racing!