In the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of his career, Ryan Truex brought out the first caution at Bristol. Driving the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing, Truex -- who started 18th -- smacked the high wall on Lap 40 after blowing a left front tire.
Truex's wreck and ensuing caution gave drivers the chance to pit for the first time. Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski did just that. Unfortunately for the champ, he didn't see David Reutimann. The two cars collided, and Keselowski lost 14 spots on pit road. "Dude, I didn't even see him," Keselowski said over his radio.
Kurt Busch found himself off the pace after noticing a problem with his tire. A pit stop with four new Goodyears didn't change the issue. As he attempted to maneuver his way back through the field, Josh Wise had the misfortune of being in 'The Outlaw's' way. This brought out the second caution flag of the night on Lap 89.
Through 100 laps, Kyle Busch was in a great position. Busch, who won the Camping World Truck Series race on Wednesday and the Nationwide Series race on Friday, had picked his way through the field after starting 43rd. He was in the top 20, but got loose on Lap 106, tagging Joey Logano and bringing out the yellow flag.
Things settled down briefly after Logano and Busch bumped. Dale Earnhardt Jr. ticked off laps as the leader, and then Clint Bowyer passed Junior in a battle between two drivers looking for their first win of 2013. The No. 15 led 50 consecutive laps and was passing lapped traffic when he was spun out from behind by Travis Kvapil -- a driver he had just lapped. Bowyer spun out and was idle in the middle of the track when Bobby Labonte smacked his Toyota on Lap 177.
A clean stretch of racing ended on Lap 358, when Brian Vickers and David Reutimann tangled, sending Reutimann's No. 83 into the wall and down onto the track. The real impact came seconds later as Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet crunched into Reutimann, damaging both cars heavily. Johnson had to go behind the wall and watch his points lead take another huge hit.
Three drivers got into each other shortly after the restart on Lap 379. Juan Pablo Montoya, who had one of the best cars on the track, got into the back of David Stremme, who then nudged Jeff Burton, sending Burton's No. 31 spinning out for another caution flag on Lap 375.
Carl Edwards led 119 laps Saturday night and was poised to challenge for his first win since the second race of the season. But something went wrong in his No. 99 Ford, and when his car didn't take off on the restart following the ninth caution of the night, the team brought his car behind the wall. Edwards, who had also trimmed Jimmie Johnson's points lead to single digits, would not return to the track.
The Big One, at Bristol? That's what happened on Lap 447, when an eight-car wreck briefly brought out the red flag. Kevin Harvick got the worst of the incident, which also included Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin. Harvick not only parked his No. 29 in Hamlin's pit box, but he also approached the driver in his car and leaned in for some terse words. Hamlin's side: The 56 of Truex got into him, triggering the crash.
With Carl Edwards out of the picture, Matt Kenseth took control of the race. The veteran drove the No. 20 Toyota into Victory Lane for the fifth time this year, holding off Kasey Kahne in a spirited duel over the final laps. You can watch the final laps below.
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- David Reutimann
- Ryan Truex
- Brad Keselowski