Is the Food City 500 over yet?
For the second time in the 2014 Sprint Cup season, I thought the race was postponed until Monday, put the kids to bed and randomly found the race on cable when trying to find something else to watch on Sunday evening. While extra night racing in Bristol is always a plus, there are some other winners and losers from Sunday’s race. Here’s a Bert Convy style breakdown.
Four of the top five finishers drove a Ford. Keep in mind, Bristol is anything but a 1.5 mile cookie cutter track. The win also virtually secures Carl Edwards a Chase spot, which means he gets to run 1.5 mile Chase tracks searching for points; this is also known as a specialty of his. Edwards instantly becomes a 2014 title contender. Ford, Edwards and their 3,152 sponsors all win.
More importantly, Ford showed depth. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished second. Aric Almirola, whose last name still gets spellchecked I mention it so infrequently, was third. Fans have seen Team Penske do well. Now the other teams have momentum in a place that hasn’t treated them all that well in the past.
The race started on broadcast and ended on cable. That’s never good. And while there’s just something special about seeing night racing at Bristol, the volume of empty seats was jarring to the race itself. I understand why fans left, but NASCAR skeptics always look at empty seats as a reason to criticize the sport. There’s plenty of fodder after watching Sunday.
Draw: Joe Gibbs Racing
Matt Kenseth had the best car found and himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Denny Hamlin did add to his solid season with a sixth place finish.
But the former King of Bristol, Kyle Busch, took his 6/1 odds and finished 29th. Busch’s best finish this 2014 Sprint Cup season is ninth. That’s it. It’s only four races, but it’s not like Busch set the world on fire at the end of last season. When is it fair to say Kyle Busch is in a slump? I’m not saying he is; I am saying the question seems fair to ask, and other will me more cynical than me at the moment.
Maybe Busch’s luck changes at the Auto Club 400 next week. It couldn’t get any worse at the Food City 500 which is finally over, along with this column.