Sunday, September 26, 2021

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Carl Edwards wins rain-delayed Food City 500 with strategy

Using the words of Tony the Tiger, Jimmy Fennig’s pit strategy was “Grrrreat” as it led Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Kellogg’s / Frosted Flakes Ford to victory lane in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

A late caution would fly with 76 laps to go when Martin Truex Jr. had a flat tire that resulted in contact with the wall. Under the caution, Carl Edwards was one of the drivers that stayed out while others chose to pit. Edwards would inherit the lead and was able to escape away from Aric Almirola and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the restart.

He then stretched the lead and kept the field behind him till the caution flew with two laps to go. The caution was a result of a “light malfunction” as NASCAR said the switch was hit by accident, but would be the end of the race as the skies opened up.

“Aric and those guys were really fast. I don’t know if I could have gotten by them (without staying out),” Edwards commented. “That was a gutsy call with the tire problems. We’re in the Chase and we’re going to go win the championship.”

The win at Bristol marks Edwards’ first win of the season and marks a great finish following Roush-Fenway Racing’s struggles last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It also marks his 22nd career win overall, third win at Bristol.

“How about Ford? They’ve done so much for the sport and for them to finish 1-2-3-5, it’s a big turn,” Edwards commented. “Jimmy Fennig makes some great calls. This is just cool man.”

2013 Rookie of the Year Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also used the strategy to his advantage, coring his best career Sprnt Cup finish in second to give RFR a one-two finish.

“Mike got this car rolling really good,” Stenhouse commented. “It’s good to have him back and it’s good to be running back up front.”

Aric Almirola finished third, also scoring his best career finish.

“Our car was good on the long run. We were way too tight on the short run and it seemed the other guys would fall of and we could catch them,” he said afterwards. “Proud of the effort of these guys as they hanged everything trying to get it right.”

After having to take a provisional following Friday’s qualifying session, Tony Stewart would work his way through the traffic and came home with a solid fourth place finish.

“It feels great. It feels like a win even if its not,” Stewart commented. “To start 36th and end up fourth is huge for us. Chad Johnson did a great job. Everybody worked hard all weekend. We had a long way to go this weekend and we got it up there.”

Marcos Ambrose finished fifth placing both Richard Petty Motorsports’ cars in the top five, followed by pole sitter Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers and rookie Kyle Larson.

Fellow rookie Austin Dillon got back on the lead lap mid-race to finish 11th, followed by Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer. Kenseth’s finish came after sustaining heavy rear-end finish

The race was initially delayed two hours due to rain, with 125 laps being completed before another red flag was displayed due to rain. That red flag lasted a couple hours, before the race was resumed around 6 p.m. EST. Once the race resumed, it seemed like it was a full moon night as many drivers ran into trouble.

Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. would finish 24th after struggling with an ill-handling car and having to make an unscheduled pit stop under green. As a result, Earnhardt’s streak of consecutive top two finishes ends at three and he falls to second in points, 10 points behind Keselowski. Keselowski picked up the win last weekend in Las Vegas.

Keselowski crossed the line 14th with heavy front end damage, his car without it’s front hood, as a result of running into the back of Jamie McMurray when Kevin Harvick’s motor blew with 44 laps to go. After running inside the top five, McMurray was sent behind the wall for repairs to the rear-end.

Jimmie Johnson also suffered a poor finish, finishing 19th after blowing a right front tire under green.

Danica Patrick had her first top 20 finish of the year, finishing 18th after getting involved in an early incident with Cole Whitt. Her Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch wasn’t as fortunate as he finished multiple laps behind the leaders after suffering left front damage to running over debris when Kyle Busch spun out. Kyle Busch struggled throughout the race, going around with a flat tire at one point.

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