Story By: HOLLY CAIN / NASCAR – BRISTOL, TN – The Food City 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race will be continued Monday because of poor weather conditions Sunday afternoon at the Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
NASCAR announced the race will start at 1 p.m. ET Monday and will be broadcast on FOX (PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Kyle Larson will lead the field to the green flag when racing resumes. He held a substantial 6-second lead over the field Sunday only to have the advantage disappear among the rain drops when the race was called on lap 204 of the 500-lap race.
Larson, 25, was also leading on a previous red flag period for weather less than a half hour earlier Sunday afternoon. A mad shuffle on that race restart saw the fifth-year Cup driver pull away from veterans Denny Hamlin, Paul Menard, Kyle Bush, Ricky Stenhouse and Joey Logano – the running order at the time the race was postponed.
Larson led 67 of the 204 laps completed on Sunday and said he was optimistic about his chances whenever the race resumed. He started from the pole position and led a race best 202 laps in last year’s Spring race at Bristol but finished sixth.
“Yeah, it’s hard to get a rhythm with all the rain and stuff and then getting out of your car and getting back in,” Larson said. “Our McDonald’s Chevy is really fast, I would just like to get some racing going, but then again, I feel like I always do better or do worse once the track gets a bunch of rubber on it.
“So, if we keep getting all these stops and jet dryers and stuff to take the rubber off the track, maybe it will help us out. But, feeling good about it so far.”
The Food City 500 started an hour ahead of schedule in hopes of out-running the expected poor weather. But it was red-flagged twice in the second stage for rain.
Still the racing was as fast and furious as fans have come to expect on the high-banked half-mile oval – the action just sporadic as the field had to dodge the rain. Drivers spoke about the uncharacteristic start-and-stop nature of the day during a red flag period.
“Today we’re challenged by everything, the weather, damage to our car,” Stewart-Haas Racing driver Aric Almirola said, mustering a smile during the late rain delay. “It’s been challenging. … just a crazy day.’’
Ryan Blaney led 99 of the opening 153 laps and looked to have the field covered when he was caught up in an accident that happened in front of him in high traffic as he was lapping cars. His Penske Racing teammate, Brad Keselowski, won Stage 1.
Jimmie Johnson is the defending winner of the race and was running eighth when the race was suspended.