Preview: The Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway

It's Bristol Baby. Will it be a Busch Brothers affair for The Food City 500, the first race of the season at Bristol Motor Speedway?

Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Yes, it’s Bristol Baby! The NASCAR Cup Series hasn’t dropped the checkered flag for The Food City 500 and it’s already been bang, bang, and more banging. Short track racing at its finest is about to go down.


After being edged out by his younger brother for the pole position, Kurt Busch wrecked late in the final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice. The driver of the No. 41 Ford hit the inside wall in the final minutes of practice and will go to a backup car for the race on Sunday. His Stewart-Haas teammate Kevin Harvick also suffered serious damage during practice and will be in a backup car for The Food City 500. Kurt qualified with a speed of 128.804 mph and brother Kyle took the pole with a 128.822 mph lap during the final round of qualifying.


Practice proved to be unkind to several drivers. AJ Allmendinger went for a spin and his rear end tapped the wall during practice for Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Thanks to a tire change, Jimmie Johnson will start from the rear of the field. Austin Dillon was docked 15 minutes in both Cup practices because of inspection issues. Not an ideal situation for many drivers heading into the much-anticipated short track race at Bristol.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Schedule for Bristol Motor Speedway:

The Food City 500 (Follow live)
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, April 15, 2018
The Time: Approximately 1:00 p.m. EST
TV: Fox
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 266.5 miles (500 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 125), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 250), Final Stage (Ends on lap 500)

Press Pass (Watch live)
Post-Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race: 4:15 p.m. EST

Once again, weather impacted a Cup race. If you’re talking to anyone except Harvick, Kurt Busch, or Dillon, their probably happy that practice and qualifying went on as scheduled. The start time for The Food City 500 will start an hour earlier thanks to the threat of rain. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race at Bristol was supposed to kick-off at 2:13 p.m. EST.

Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images

BRISTOL, TN - APRIL 13: Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford, walks to his car during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 13, 2018 in Bristol, Tennessee.

Starting Line-up

(Position, Driver, Manufacturer, Speed)

1. Kyle Busch, Toyota, 128.822
2. Kurt Busch, Ford, 128.804
3. Brad Keselowski, Ford, 128.262
4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 128.253
5. Ryan Blaney, Ford, 128.185
6. Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 128.048
7. Paul Menard, Ford, 127.98
8. Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 127.835
9. Michael McDowell, Ford, 127.673
10. Joey Logano, Ford, 127.571
11. William Byron, Chevrolet, 127.47
12. Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 126.628
13. Erik Jones, Toyota, 127.317
14. Clint Bowyer, Ford, 127.191
15. Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 127.115
16. Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 127.031
17. Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 126.972
18. A.J. Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 126.771
19. Aric Almirola, Ford, 126.704
20. Darrell Wallace Jr., Chevrolet, 126.42
21. Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 126.395
22. Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 126.27
23. David Ragan, Ford, 126.204
24. Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 125.535
25. Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 125.773
26. Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 125.765
27. Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 125.248
28. Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 124.938
29. Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 124.922
30. Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 124.735
31. Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 124.517
32. Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 123.978
33. Trevor Bayne, Ford, 123.802
34. Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 121.79
35. D.J. Kennington, Toyota, 121.389
36. Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 121.366
37. Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, 118.058
38. Chad Finchum, Toyota, 114.658
39. Kevin Harvick, Ford, Wrecked

Perhaps the third time will be a charm for the Busch brothers. They have started on the front row of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on three occasions. The brothers did it in Las Vegas in 2009, Texas in 2013, and now at Bristol in 2018. Of course, Kyle was on the pole each time.

Past 10 Winners at Texas Motor Speedway

(Year, Driver, Manufacturer)

2008, Jeff Burton, Chevrolet
2009, Kyle Busch, Toyota
2010, Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet
2011, Kyle Busch, Toyota
2012, Brad Keselowski, Dodge
2013, Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet
2014, Carl Edwards, Ford
2015, Matt Kenseth, Toyota
2016, Carl Edwards, Toyota
2017, Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet

The Monster Energy Cup Series races at Bristol twice a year. The past 10 winners above represent the first race of the year at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

BRISTOL, TN - APRIL 14: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's for Pros Chevrolet, sits on the pit wall during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 14, 2018 in Bristol, Tennessee.


Notable Events

Kyle Busch is a six-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol. His brother Kurt Busch is a five-time winner at Bristol, but he has not won at the half-mile track since 2006. That's 12 years ago! Let that sink in.

Because all Kyle Busch does is win, he's a nine-time winner in the Xfinity Series and he's a five-time winner in the Camping World Truck Series at Bristol. If you added that up, he has won twenty-times at Bristol between Cup, Xfinity, and the Truck Series. Impressive.

We have already established Jimmie Johnson is on a losing streak. I hate to use the word “losing” but he is not winning, so he's losing. The Hendrick Motorsports driver won the April race in 2017. He is clearly capable of getting the job done at “The Last Great Colosseum.” It’s worth noting, Johnson has eleven top 5s and eighteen top 10s at Bristol. Unfortunately, having to deal with a tire change during practice will prove challenging.

One other notable is Kevin Harvick. Harvick has twelve top 5s and seventeen top 10s at Bristol. He won at Bristol in 2005 and 2016. Like Johnson, Harvick has a lot to overcome. He will also start at the rear of the field with teammate Kurt Busch.