After grabbing the lead with 23 laps to go when front-runner Johnny Benson cut a tire, Steve Grissom held first place the rest of the way to win the Food City 250 Friday night at Bristol International Raceway in Bristol, Tenn.
Benson made up two spots to finish 12th, but combined with a fourth-place finish by Spokane’s Chad Little, Benson’s lead toward the series title was cut from 62 points to 29 with six races left.
Pole-winner Stevie Reeves led the first 60 laps. Then, in order, Benson led 51, Little 21, Mike Wallace 33, Benson 62 and, finally, Grissom 23.
The victory gave Grissom a sweep of the .533-mile track’s two NASCAR Grand National events this season, a first for the circuit at the bowl-shaped speedway in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Grissom rallied his Chevrolet from the 28th starting position for his 10th career Grand National win.
Benson’s misfortune left Grissom with a 7.34-second lead and he expanded it to 8.6 seconds over runner-up Jeff Green at the checkered flag in front of 53,875.
“We pitted and made a chassis change to tighten the car up,” said Grissom, who had to go to the infield care center for oxygen after Victory Lane ceremonies. “We went too far with the change, so the next time we came in we took about half the wedge out, and that made the car handle perfect for the last part of the race.”
Benson and Grissom, who’d made up a 3-second deficit, were in a close-quarters duel when Benson’s Chevy suddenly swerved right and bottomed out in a shower of sparks in Turn 1. Benson had cut his right-front tire and fell from first to 14th when he pitted.
Grissom averaged 87.234 mph despite seven caution periods.
Martin takes pole
Mark Martin slammed the door on the rest of the competition, setting a Bristol International Raceway qualifying record in winning the pole for tonight’s Goody’s 500.
Martin earned his fourth pole of the season and 28th of his Winston Cup career with a lap of 125.093 mph. That surpassed the mark of 124.946 set in April 1994 by Chuck Bown and relegated Terry Labonte to the outside pole for the 250-lap race on Bristol’s 533-mile oval.
In Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Gerhard Berger is not ready to take a back seat next year to Michael Schumacher, and proved his worth by winning the provisional pole for the Belgian Grand Prix.
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