NOTEBOOK: Early exit for contenders
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Don’t tell Kyle Busch, Marcos Ambrose, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards that Bristol Motor Speedway isn’t that treacherous anymore.
Each thought he had an excellent chance to win the Food City 500, and each was wrong as of the 24th lap.
The front-straight crash began with contact between the Chevys of Kasey Kahne and Regan Smith. Kahne’s car then turned sideways and collected the cars of Ambrose, Edwards, Busch and Harvick. Brad Keselowski’s Dodge was involved in the incident’s beginning, but he managed get away before the pileup ensued.
Surprise, surprise – Remember Brian Vickers, who lost his ride, then latched on with Michael Waltrip Racing for a measly six races.
Bristol was the first, and Vickers, once the youngest driver to win the (now) Nationwide Series championship, dominated much of the race’s first half. He led 99 consecutive laps, taking the lead on lap 118 from Dale Earnhardt Jr. and relinquishing it to Brad Keselowski on lap 217. Vickers also led 120 out of a possible 121.
Once Keselowski took the lead, Vickers fell back quickly. So had A.J. Allmendinger, who led laps 42-95 but fell a lap down by the halfway point.
Failure to communicate – For a considerable portion of the race’s second half, the NASCAR scoring monitors went awry.
For instance, several contenders were shown as having run more than 1 billion laps. Kevin Harvick was shown as the leader during a period in which Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth were far ahead of the rest of the field.
The track’s scoring pylon never went haywire, and apparently TV continued to get accurate information. Radio wasn’t so lucky, according to PRN’s announcers.
Information was restored at about the 350-lap mark.
Bad break – Jeff Gordon had a shot at a sixth Bristol victory until lap 360, at which point his Chevy spun after mild back-straight contact with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s.
It wasn’t destructive contact, but apparently the exhaust pipe of Earnhardt’s car punctured the left-rear tire of Gordon’s, sending Gordon out of control in turn three.
Monte Dutton; 704-869-1841; twitter.com/montedutton