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?

byT. Walker|
Preview: The Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway


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.

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., Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Starting Lineup

(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.

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., Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

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.