Matt Kenseth wins the 2015 Food City 500
Though scheduled for 1:00 PM ET, the Food City 500 main event was postponed due to rain in Bristol, Tennessee. The race was renamed Food City 500 In Support Of Steve Byrnes And Stand Up To Cancer. Steve Byrnes is a Fox Sports 1 NASCAR announcer and producer and a well-known name to stock car enthusiasts who is currently battling with neck cancer. The 500 laps long race began at 1:30 PM with a touching tribute to Steve.
Starting from pole position, Matt Kenseth took the early lead with Keselowski and Harvick battling for second. Behind them were Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin. On lap six Harvick took over Kenseth and gained the lead. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has brushed the wall early on, but recovered losing his spot, but not hitting anyone. While trying to pass Kennedy, Keselowski got loose and hit the wall. His Team Penske teammate and Xfinity winner Joey Logano was following him closely and had nowhere to go, rear-ending him and causing a caution flag on lap 19. Logano suffered significant damage to his left front wing in the crash and his wheel was locked. In the meantime, the race was stopped on lap 22 because of rain, and all cars went behind the wall and under the covers.
The race resumed around 6:40 PM ET with Harvick in the lead and Team Penske’s crew members fixing Keselowski’s and Logano’s cars. Also, Denny Hamlin had a neck spasm and was replaced by young Erik Jones who had his unexpected Sprint Cup debut. Still under yellow, Keselowski returned to the track on lap 29, while Logano was still in the pits. On lap 35, the safety car went to the pit lane and race restarted in full speed. The scheduled caution came on lap 62, and upon exiting the pits, Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle briefly emerged as leaders and Moffet and Ragan were penalized. The race was restarted on lap 68. Biffle soon gave way to Kurt Busch and Harvick, going to third position. Joey Logano returned on lap 75. Soon after, Matt Kenseth overtook Biffle and went to third. On lap 102 Dale Jr. reported tire problems but returned into the race.
Landon Cassill’s car almost caused a pileup, but fortunately no contact occurred. A battle between Kurt Busch and Harvick was long and strong, so they left trhird placed Kenseth by around 2.3s. After an unfortunate drive in the qualifying sessions, Jimmie Johnson went up to 7th. Carl Edwards eventually went to third with more than four seconds behind the first placed Kevin Harvick. On lap 161 Busch reclaimed the lead from Harvick by using oncoming traffic, but on 166 Harvick was back in the first.
The third caution flew on lap 168 because of rain water leaking onto the track. During the pit stops, Kurt Busch emerged as the leader and was followed by Matt Kenseth. However, Harvick returned to the lead soon, leaving Edwards, Kenseth and Busch behind him. The race restarted on lap 176 and a close battle for first was continued. On lap 210 Jeff Gordon reported a loose wheel and went to the pits from seventh place, returning to the race on 29th. The leading pack got stuck in a traffic jam, and Harvick maintained his close but constant leading position. Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch still battled for second, passing the place one to another in several occasions. Jimmie Johnson managed to climb onto fifth, then fourth halfway into the race and so did Carl Edwards taking the first on lap 257.
— Kentucky Speedway (@KySpeedway) April 20, 2015
A yellow flag flew on lap 264 because of light rain and the race was red flagged again on lap 273. After a short stop, the race resumed under safety car. On lap 276 the race was restarted, but a massive pileup happened just seconds after, and it all started with a collision by Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch. Danica Patrick wasn’t so lucky and had to go to the pits, but otherwise there were no seriously damaged cars. The green flag went down on lap 292 with Edwards in the lead.
HEAVY damage to the No. 4. https://t.co/GBpmWQ4QBQ
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 20, 2015
A bump between Jeb Burton and Jimmie Johnson turned into a crash which swiped David Ragan, Jeff Gordon and third placed Kevin Harvick on lap 311 causing a yellow flag. After the crash, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. jumped to third position. The race restarted on lap 324 with a battle between Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne. Lap 344 saw 7th caution due to piece of debris on the track. During the pit changes, Kyle Larson was the leader. The green flag was on lap 348. Race leader Kyle Larson battled against Ryan Newman and Aric Armiola. On lap 367 race leader Kyle Larson flipped Landon Casill which caused him to hit the wall. Fortunately, Landon Casill was okay and had to deal only with his wrecked car. The race was yellow flagged and restarted on lap 381 with Kyle Larson in the lead with Kenseth and Busch behind him.
As Larson was increasing his lead in the final laps of the race, there’s been a great battle for fourth and fifth position between Gordon, Edwards and McMurray. After Larson made a green pit stop, Kenseth, Busch and Newman got to 1-2-3 with less than 60 laps to go, and with 57, Kurt Busch got to first, while Gordon got the fourth and then to third, but Edwards soon overtook him, pushing him back to fourth. Kurt Busch went to lead, and maintained his lead by ninth caution on lap 473. The crash occurred when Jamie McMurray got a blown tire, collecting several cars with himself. Race leader Kurt Busch went to the pits, and returned to the race as sixth car. Kenseth was back in the lead with 20 laps to go when the race restarted.
— BristolMotorSpeedway (@BMSupdates) April 20, 2015
An another crash between Kahne, Allmendinger, Casey Mears, Tony Stewart and Truex Jr. occurred with seventeen laps to go and the race restarted with eight laps to go, but with seven to go, there’s been an eleventh caution. Carl Edwards lost control and was rear ended by Kurt Busch which initiated a big crash. The crash left Matt Kenseth as the leader. In a green white checkered flag finish, Kenseth won the race and was followed by Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.