Mother Nature has thwarted sporting events up and down country in recent weeks, and it made no exception for Monster Energy Series racing at the last great coliseum on Sunday as rain postponed the conclusion of the Food City 500 to Patriots Day at 1 PM ET. Unfortunately for many outside of Massachusetts and Maine, the vast majority of NASCAR fans missed out on some classic short-track racing on Monday that was easily the best and most exciting race of the 2018 season that saw Kyle Busch secure his second consecutive victory and his 7th in the top series at the half-mile track.
The bump-and-run was back at Bristol, and it made for some great viewing and classic short-track racing. Busch used the move to make the final pass over Kyle Larson with 6 laps to go that would secure him with his second straight trip to victory lane and place him with the most wins at Bristol Motor Speedway among active drivers with 7 and in the top-5 overall. Kyle Busch just continues the usual tear from him we see a few times each season as he’s finished in the top-three in each of the last six races with three runner-up results to go with the back-to-back wins. Busch earned his 45th Cup Series win on Monday and tied Jimmie Johnson & Kevin Harvick with the most wins over the last five seasons with 17 each a piece.
Larson had one of the best cars through both days of racing leading a combined 200 laps including holding the lead overnight through the rain delay, but couldn’t hold off the charging No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry in the closing stages of the race. Ryan Blaney dominated on Sunday jumping out to the lead early and leading 100 laps, but was caught in a wreck with lapped traffic that ended his race weekend and rendered him with a 35th place finish. Brad Keselowski somehow snuck away with both stage wins and was fighting for the lead through the final stage of the race, but a few issues late in the race cost him any chance to win and he wound up taking home a 23rd place finish 5 laps down.
A few other drivers also shined at points during Monday’s race and a few came away with great finishes. First was seven-time champ Jimmie Johnson, who won this very race in the same situation one year ago. Johnson ran around the top-5 all day long and came away with a 3rd place result for his best finish of the year and appears to have finally broke out of his slump ready to go on a typical Jimmie tear. Teammate Alex Bowman ran near the front all day and came away with a career-best 5th place finish on Monday at Bristol. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. showed his short-track prowess as well as he was hanging with Busch and Larson through the closing stages and came away with a 4th place finish. Rookie Bubba Wallace wore out the bumper of his car and the competition driving the vintage STP 43 around the coliseum and even worked his way up to the front leading 6 laps and running in the top-10 most of the day before falling off late in the run and coming home 16th. Stewart-Haas Racing quietly continued their outstanding 2018 campaign with three cars finishing in the top 10 with Aric Almirola in 6th, Harvick in 7th (who started last after crashing his primary car in practice and not qualifying) and Martinsville winner Clint Bowyer in 8th place.
The bump-and-run was back at Bristol, baby. Kyle Busch used it in the closing moments and walked away with another win for the No. 18 team that further enhances his overall points lead in the series with 365, a 59-point advantage over second place Joey Logano. The Cup cars next hit the track on Saturday night in another short-track throw-down from Richmond International Raceway. More great racing in store this weekend.
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