David Ragan led the final 56 laps of the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at the .533-mile speedway, but Edwards was the big winner, as he trimmed Kyle Busch’s lead in the series standings from 339 to 248 points. Busch was the victim of an early accident and finished 28th, 59 laps down.
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
BRISTOL, Tenn.—With a strong restart on a green-white-checkered-flag finish, David Ragan held off Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards in Friday night’s Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Ragan led the final 56 laps of the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at the .533-mile speedway, but Edwards was the big winner, as he trimmed Kyle Busch’s lead in the series standings from 339 to 248 points. Busch was the victim of an early accident and finished 28th, 59 laps down.
“It was a fun night to drive such a fast racecar,” said Ragan, who chose the outside line for the final restart, as the race went four laps beyond its scheduled distance. “The outside had been great all night. I really struggled passing cars on the bottom.
“I raced with Carl—it was fun racing with a teammate—and I was able to pin him behind a lapped car. I don’t think I would have passed him (otherwise), because he was running that middle groove, and I just couldn’t get around him.”
The race ended under caution because of a wreck on the final lap that froze the running order with Ragan in the lead.
Polesitter Brad Keselowski rallied from an early fender-bender to finish third, followed by Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth.
If Edwards had to lose the race, he was glad it was Ragan who beat him.
“He played me the way he should have,” Edwards said. “He got me behind a lapped car and got me pinned. … I can’t say enough about David Ragan. He’s a great guy.”
Ragan passed Edwards for the lead on Lap 199 of 254 and held the top spot through a caution for debris on the frontstretch on Lap 243. That set up the two-lap dash to the finish.
A dramatic wreck on Lap 52 forced Busch to give back much of the gains he made in the Nationwide standings last week when Edwards wrecked on Lap 3 of last Saturday’s race at Michigan International Speedway.
Busch had just passed Harvick for the lead and was barreling out of Turn 4 when Bristol rookie Chase Austin, with a tire down on his No. 07 Chevrolet, pulled down the track into Busch’s path. The resulting violent collision sent Busch’s Toyota hard into the frontstretch wall. Reed Sorenson’s Chevy also was collected in the wreck.
Busch climbed from his car and disappeared into his transporter, as NASCAR red-flagged the race for more than 15 minutes for track cleanup. It was a kinder, gentler Busch who emerged some 10 minutes later.
“I saw a slow car up high, and he came right across the nose, right in front of me,” Busch said. “I didn’t know where to go except where I was going. I had Harvick on my outside, and he was able to miss it. Pretty unfortunate there that we got caught up in that mess.
“The (car) was awesome—it was good, it was coming right to the front. Got all the way up there and was taking the lead, but mistakes happen sometimes—I’ve made plenty. We’ll go on and get them next week.”