Speeding penalties may have put a damper on the day for Kyle Larson and Martin Truex, Jr., but the two drivers that led the most laps in Monday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway did not let that stop them from rebounding to finish in the top-10.
After starting on pole, Larson led the first 202 laps of the race, capturing the stage win in the first stage before giving up the lead to Truex at lap 203. Truex would go on to lead 116 laps of his own on three different occasions, taking the stage win in the second stage for himself.
While under caution for Erik Jones on lap 422, the leaders made their way down pit road and Larson was able to beat the others off of pit road, but that would be the point that Larson would get his speeding penalty for speeding on exit, dropping him to the tail end of the field.
Once the race went back green, Larson wasted no time in clawing his way back toward the front of the field, finding himself just on the outside of the top-10 when the final caution of the day flew on lap 463. Under caution, Larson’s team elected to take two tires, propelling him to the top-five on the ensuing restart.
Though Larson would find himself in second place with 25 laps to go, he would eventually lose a handful of spots over the closing laps to finish the day in sixth.
“I don’t know if we had the car to beat,” said Larson. “I thought early on in the race before all the rubber got laid down we were really good. In the middle part of the race, I didn’t think we were very good. And then there at the end, I got the top going really good. So, and then I got that speeding penalty and set us back.”
“We had to gamble there for that last stop and take two lefts and we hadn’t don’t that all day. The balance honestly wasn’t that bad with our Credit One Bank Chevy, on two tires. Four tires just had a little more grip around the bottom for a little bit longer than we did. And I had to get to the top early and was just following Kevin (Harvick) hoping that he’d make a mistake because I knew I couldn’t go down to the bottom and get by him. So, I had to kind of ride. But, it was another good run for us; another top 10. I would have liked to have a top 5 but it was a good points day for us and we’ll go on to Richmond next and try to do better than we’ve done there in the past and extend our point lead there.”
Much like Larson, Truex found himself with a favorable position off of pit road during the final caution, but the speeding police would be his downfall as well, dropping him from a restart position of fourth place to the tail end of the lead lap.
With only 32 laps around the half-mile bullring at his disposal to make up the lost ground, Truex was able to make the best of a bad situation to bring home a top-10 finish with his eighth place result, marking his fifth top-10 finish of the season.
“We were going for it you know,” said Truex. “Wish we could have had a shot there just to see if we could have won. This Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota with everyone that helps us make it right – Toyota, TRD 5-hour, Wix, Bass Pro and just everybody. This is the best run we’ve had here in a long time. It’s bittersweet, I wish we could have seen if we could have beat the 48 (Jimmie Johnson).”
“We were close there before that last caution, but it is what it is and you try to get what you can get and sometimes you cross the line and today we crossed the line. All in all, it was an awesome day and a lot of fun. Had the VHT not worn out quite as bad then we would have really killed them. The top lane came in and some guys could run that better than I could, but overall it was a good day and a lot of fun all day.”
Leaving Bristol, Larson remains the points leader, with Truex holding onto third place in the standings heading to next weekend’s race at Richmond.