It was short track racing at its finest Friday night for the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Ryan Blaney was able to take his No. 22 Ford for Team Penske to the front of the field beating a dominant Kyle Busch on the last restart of the race to claim his first victory of 2014.
The way in which it happened was nothing short of amazing. Just a few laps prior to the checkered flag, Blaney was racing Kyle Larson for position on the track. Blaney was working on Larson on the inside when Blaney got loose. He slid up the racetrack and bumped Larson into the wall. Larson went spinning off of turn two and collected Dylan Kwaniewski. Blaney was able to continue on the race.
On the restart, Busch took back the lead and Ty Dillon, who was running the second spot, got into the left quarter panel of Blaney’s car as he was coming to Dillon’s outside and got a bit sideways. Blaney was able to quickly collect his battered race car. Dillon and Chase Elliott tapped and wiggled, but saved their cars and continued on the race. At this time, Blaney slipped into the second spot before another caution came out on lap 282.
Busch and Blaney were on the front row for the restart. When the green flag was in the air on lap 294, it appeared as if Busch tried to get going and Regan Smith’s car got into the back of Busch’s car and Busch couldn’t get started. That allowed Blaney to jump to the lead and he didn’t look back.
Blaney took his beaten and battered Bristol-winning, battle ax of a race car to Victory Lane.
He led the last seven laps of the race for his only laps led during the contest.
Blaney had been fighting for track position for most of the race and kept it in the top 13 but it roared to life with about 50 laps to go.
Kyle Busch dominated the night leading 161 laps. He was the pole sitter on the night and had battles with Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Elliott Sadler for the lead all night. Besides the winning Blaney, those were the only lap leaders in the race. Busch looked as strong as ever, skillfully weaving around lapped traffic while keeping his competitors in the rear view mirror. He just came up a little short in the closing laps of the race.
Rookie Chase Elliott showed strength in only his second Bristol race in his young career. He got into some tire trouble late in the race, but a caution came out just at the right time so he could stay in contention for the lead. He didn’t race out of the top five all night. He was able to keep his point lead after this 300-lap roller coaster of a night.
Ty Dillon is moving up in the championship standings since his win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July. He now sits third – just 30 points out of the lead. He was able to salvage a fourth place finish Friday night.
Dillon’s Richard Childress Racing teammate Brendan Gaughan had a pretty good night despite meeting the wall earlier in the day. He placed sixth.
In his second start in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Erik Jones was able to finish in the top ten for the second time. His car came to him late in the race for another strong finish for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Elliott Sadler entered the Bristol race third in the points and he left fourth in points. He had a fast car and even led 27 laps but got into Timmy Hill who spun on lap 185 and caused right front damage to Sadler’s car. That would be a problem for Sadler for the rest of the race as he cut two right front tires continuing in the competition. His car would sustain too much damage and he went behind the wall on lap 262 after causing a second caution.
The top ten: Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon, Regan Smith, Brendan Gaughan, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, James Buescher, and Chris Buescher.
The next NASCAR Nationwide Series race will be Saturday, Aug. 30 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Atlanta Motor Speedway.