Carl Edwards broke through for the first time this season, winning Sunday’s Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Edwards, who started the race from the pole, outran Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch and rookie Chase Elliott for his initial win of the season.
Edwards led for much of the race and also led the field on a restart with six laps remaining. As Earnhardt, Busch and Elliott jockeyed for second place, Edwards ran away to win by .766 seconds in his No. 19 Toyota.
Earnhardt’s second-place finish came after his car lost power at the beginning of the race. He quickly fell two laps down, but nearly made up all of his deficit.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
Trevor Bayne was fifth, his first top-five since he won the Daytona 500 in 2011. Matt DiBenedetto’s sixth-place finish was a career best.
David Ragan wrecked in Turn 4 of Lap 491, forcing the final caution of the race. Edwards, who was on old tires, knew he would have plenty of competition from Kurt Busch, who was starting next to him, and Earnhardt, who was behind Edwards on the outside. But Edwards was able to pull away as his competitors tangled among themselves behind him.
Three who mattered
Carl Edwards: Bristol fans got a look at Edwards’ signature back-flip after he wins.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Two laps down before the race has really even begun and he brings it home in second place.
Clint Bowyer: It’s been a tough season for Bowyer, who is racing for one year for HScott Motorsports before replacing Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017. His eighth-place finish Sunday was easily his best of the season (18th at Fontana had been).
▪ Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s day got off to a bad start when his No. 88 Chevy lost power when the green flag was waved. Earnhardt immediately went to the pits, where the car’s computerized engine control unit was reset. He came back out two laps down and finished second. Earnhardt said he lost power when he put too much pressure on the brakes (which automatically kills the engine) during warmup laps.
▪ The Bristol track, which seats 160,000, was nowhere near full. There was speculation that bad weather during the past two spring races at Bristol might have cut into the gate.
▪ There were 15 cautions, the most of the season. They went for 102 laps, more than one-fifth of the race.
▪ Sunday was the third consecutive race that there were the maximum of 40 cars in the field. The four “open” team drivers included Ryan Blaney, Reed Sorenson, Josh Wise and Cole Whitt.
▪ Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 12-city “Share a Coke and a Song Superstar Tour” begins Monday from 5-7 p.m. at Walmart at 9820 Callabridge Court in Charlotte.
They said it
“You can’t be far enough ahead of these guys. It’s hard to feel like you’ve got an advantage (at Bristol). - Edwards.
Toyota Owners 400
When/Where: 1 p.m. Sunday, Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Radio: Motor Racing Network.