It gave Busch the opportunity to bump past Larson with five laps to go for the win. It left Larson, who has five top-10 finishes in nine Bristol starts, frustrated and wondering what if.
“I was hoping it would go green to the end. I was checked out on that long run,” Larson said. “I just didn’t expect to get that loose that last run. Not sure if the track changed a lot there or what, but I lost the balance of the car. Maybe I should have changed my line.”
He wasn’t upset by the tactic Busch used to get by him, only aggravated he couldn’t retaliate with the same move because of a lack of slower cars left at the end of the race.
“I knew it would be hard to get back to him,” Larson said. “I knew I would need a lapper to hold him up on the exit and kill his momentum to allow me to get to his back bumper.”
BIG DAY FOR BUBBA
Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. led the first laps of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career after passing Brad Keselowski on lap 375.
Those were the first laps led at Bristol for the No. 43 Richard Petty-owned car since John Andretti led 51 on his way to a second-place finish. Wallace wound up 16th, the highest-finishing rookie in the field.
Knoxville driver Trevor Bayne came under criticism from some of his fellow drivers, who felt he was the cause of a couple of accidents during Sunday’s action. The driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford was much steadier over the second half of the race, although he wasn’t happy about a 24th-place finish.
“The results stink right now,” Bayne said. “We want to be clicking off top 15s and top 10s, but we haven’t had a clean weekend yet. You can’t have wrecks on the racetrack and you can’t have blown tires. You can’t have silly things happening and some of that is on us. We’ll go to Richmond, and I just hope for a clean weekend where we can get the results we deserve.”
Another Knoxville driver, Chad Finchum, finished 33rd in his Cup Series debut. His No. 66 Toyota was eliminated from the race after 335 laps as the result of an earlier accident.
ROUGH RACE FOR TRUEX
Defending NASCAR champion Martin Truex Jr. had his car damaged early in the Food City 500. Crew chief Cole Pearn joked about the No. 78 Toyota having an advantage with the front end torn up, saying the driver could now see where the tires were headed.
Truex finished 26th, some 42 laps off the pace after retiring because of the accident.
Canadian driver D.J. Kennington sported a logo of the Humboldt Broncos on the hood of his No. 96 Toyota for the Food City 500 weekend. Sixteen people were killed in a tragic bus crash involving the Saskatchewan junior hockey team last week.
Kennington is a former junior hockey player and still plays as a goalie on a club team.
The hood will be auctioned off to help the families of the victims.
Michael Annett, who grew up playing hockey in Iowa, also ran a sticker to honor the victims on his No. 5 Chevrolet during Saturday’s Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 race.
Georgia racing veteran Dale McDowell passed Donald McIntosh with eight laps to go to win Saturday night’s 52-lap Scott Sexton Memorial race at Volunteer Speedway.
Newport racer Jimmy Owens finished third, ahead of Georgia racer Casey Roberts, Cory Hedgecock of Loudon and five-time track champion Vic Hill of Morristown.
Hedgecock held off Knoxville driver Trevor Sise to win the 30-lap Crate Late Model feature.
Other winners were Jed Emert of Maryville (Sportsman Late Model), Lee Merritt of Knoxville (Classic) and Austin Atkins of Morristown, who made a last-lap pass to win the Modified Street feature.