Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch dominated Friday night’s Food City 300 at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway as the duo combined to lead 271 of the 310 laps on the .533-mile Tennessee oval. In the end, it was Larson who capitalized en route to his 12th win of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career and fourth of the 2018 season.
Here are the top five storylines from Friday night’s race.
Busch’s Reign Comes To An End
Last year, Kyle Busch swept all three NASCAR races at Bristol during this race weekend. He won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, the NASCAR XFINITY Series race and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
In the spring, he entered the Cup Series race obviously but not the XFINITY Series race. He’d win.
Due to not being able to race in the Truck Series race on Thursday night, he carried a four race winning streak into Friday night’s Food City 300. Busch, a 21-time race winner at Bristol, nine of which occurring in the XFINITY Series, started on the pole and looked to be the one to beat again this evening. Instead, despite leading the first 69 laps, his tire blew and sent him hard into the Turn 4 SAFER barrier.
He’d finish a disappointing 36th as a result.
Busch, has won 95 races and 65 poles in the series but sees his season come to an end as he ran his seven allotted races now. He finished 14th, third, eighth, first, sixth, third and now 35th respectively.
He will surely be the favorite next year as he wins this race in every odd year. He won in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017…2019?
He swept all three stages and led 202 laps himself to finally get over the hump at Bristol. Larson, has dominated races on the high banked short track but could never close them out. With Daniel Hemric’s last crash, it looked like he once again would struggle to close out another race, but this time Larson won for his first Bristol victory and fourth win over his last five starts in the series.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Struggles
Heading into Friday night’s race, Joe Gibbs Racing had won the last three XFINITY Series events at Bristol. In fact, if you go back to 2011, they’ve won 12 of the last 16 including five of the last six. In practice and qualifying, their threesome looked like the ones to beat. Busch and Christopher Bell shared the front row in fact.
But, Busch crashed and finished 36th, Brandon Jones had issues and finished 50 laps down in 29th while Bell came home runner-up.
Not the night that we expected out of JGR that’s for sure.
Chevrolet Shines Again
For the second straight night, Chevrolet shined under the lights at Bristol. In Thursday night’s Truck Series race, the UNOH 200, Johnny Sauter beat Stewart Friesen, John Hunter Nemechek and Parker Kligerman for a 1-2-3-4 finish. Throw in Justin Haley in sixth and they had five drives come away with top six finishes.
On Friday night, Kyle Larson dominated while Justin Allgaier came home third for two Chevy drivers in the top three of the Food City 300. But, they also dominated the spots behind as Chevy drivers had 10 of the top 13 finishing spots in Friday night’s race.
The bubble spots stayed roughly the same as Ryan Reed (+97) and Ross Chastain (+42) hold onto the final two wildcard spots with just four races remaining in the 2018 regular season. Michael Annett and Ryan Sieg had great nights with finishes of seventh and 11th respectively, but Chastain didn’t allow them to close the gap much as he finished right behind them in 12th. Jeremy Clements even came home 13th, but they can’t close that deficit enough when Chastain was solid again.
Austin Cindric (+145) is in ninth but well clear of the bubble as Matt Tifft (+143) is just behind. Annett (-42), Sieg (-99), Clements (-105) and Alex Labbe (-140) are all fighting to get into the final few spots.
Next up is Road America, a race that Clements stole a win and a playoff berth in just one year ago.
But, the top of the standings is a tight race too. The regular season points champion gets 15 crucial playoff points too. Christopher Bell finished second on Friday but Justin Allgaier was right behind in third as Bell leads Allgaier by only 13 points in the standings leaving Bristol. Elliott Sadler is third (-17) while Cole Custer (-19) is still right there too. Daniel Hemric’s late crash took him further out as he’s 42 points out with only four races to go in the regular season.