“I feel like Dale Earnhardt Sr. right now… I didn’t even do anything.”
Coming to take the white flag, Kyle Busch wasn’t even in the picture for the victory, sitting more than four seconds behind the two race leaders, with just over a half-mile left in the second annual Food City Dirt Race.
On some level, we all knew he had a shot, as Chase Briscoe had chased Tyler Reddick down from nearly a second behind, throughout the race’s final 17 laps, leaving the Mitchell, Indiana-native tasked with making the pass.
…and well, he tried alright. On the final lap of the event, Briscoe dove deep into the third corner in an attempt to pull a slide job, but started spinning out on the inside of the Reddick, which ultimately sent both drivers spinning.
Reddick, who led a race-high 99 laps, scrambled to get his car in gear and back to the start-finish line, and just about made it in time, ultimately coming up three-tenths of a second short of his first career victory.
Kyle Busch slid by Reddick at the last possible moment to capture his first victory of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season and the 60th of his career at NASCAR’s top level, while the Richard Childress Racing driver still managed to salvage a career-best runner-up finish.
Joey Logano, the inaugural Food City Dirt Race winner, finished in third place, with Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney rounding out the top five. Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott, Michael McDowell, and Ty Dillon rounded out the top-10.
Excessive precipitation plagued the venue for the majority of the evening and forced a pair of stoppages in the event, both of which looked to have the potential to shorten the race from the scheduled 250-lap distance.
The lingering rain showers even played a factor in strategy calls, as Daniel Suarez, Ross Chastain, and Chase Briscoe all stayed out at the conclusion of the race’s first stage, to ensure they were in a position to be leading, should the rain fall.
Ultimately, the strategy didn’t work out, as all three drivers were forced to pit for tires and fuel at the end of the second stage. Suarez would go on to finish 12th, while Chastain blew an engine shortly thereafter to finish 33rd.
There was even a point in time, after the end of the second stage, where confusion existed amongst drivers, teams, fans, and even the broadcasters, about the field’s finishing positions, should the race not continue, as the field had been frozen under the red flag.
All-in-all, the racing continued without a hitch – ish — and allowed the series’ best drivers to compete for the victory, whilst slipping and sliding around ‘The Last Great Colosseum’, something that many fans and competitors were skeptical about.
Following the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol, the Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the second of four superspeedway events on the calendar this season. With eight different winners in nine races, the playoff grid is filling up quickly, a trend that could easily continue into Talladega.