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Weather a concern for Food City 500

March 15th, 2014 8:03 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Weather a concern for Food City 500

BRISTOL — Weather is likely to disrupt action at Bristol Motor Speedway today with a 100 percent chance of rain in the forecast.

It means the Food City 500 could be pushed back to later in the day or even to Monday.

One NASCAR official said the fact that Bristol is set up for night racing, the race could start as late as 9 p.m. if rain stops and officials decide to wait it out. 

Bristol Motor Speedway general manager Jerry Caldwell released a statement Saturday evening about the forecast and the plans.

“NASCAR has a nearly 70-year history of working with tracks to get races in on the scheduled date,” Caldwell said. “In Bristol Motor Speedway, we have a track that dries in less than an hour, equipment here to do it and lights that allow us to go well into the evening. We are very hopeful and fully intend to run the Food City 500 tomorrow. 

“If by chance that does not happen, we are prepared to race Monday at noon. But that is a backup plan, we hope to not need.”

Only 250 laps have to be completed to reach the halfway point and it to be counted as an official race. However, the NASCAR official added if the race is started, the intent is to run all 500 laps. 

The last time a NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway was postponed was April 2005. Kevin Harvick won the Sharpie Professional 250 Nationwide Series race after it was moved from a Saturday to Monday.

Jeff Gordon won the 1996 Food City 500, the last rain-shortened Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol. That race was called for rain after 342 laps with Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace finishing behind Gordon.

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Kyle Busch captured its third straight Nationwide Series win at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday and his record seventh overall at Bristol in the Drive to Stop Diabetes 300.

Busch also added to his records of 65 career Nationwide Series wins and 16 wins at Bristol Motor Speedway in the three NASCAR national series.

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Knoxville driver Trevor Bayne battled from a lap down to score an eighth-place finish on Saturday. 

Bayne, driving the No. 6 Roush-Fenway Ford Mustang, started 14th and struggled in the early going, falling back as far as 19th. He raced his way back to 10th when he got a free pass to get back on the lead lap.

From there, Bayne raced passed Regan Smith and Chase Elliott for his final position.

Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner, now trails Smith by a single point (151-150) in the Nationwide Series point standings. Ty Dillon ranks third, eight points behind the series leader.

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Kyle Larson won the pole for the Drive to Stop Diabetes 300.

Larson, who finished runner-up to Busch in the race, toured the high-banked .533-mile oval in 15.415 seconds (124.476 mph).

It was the first career pole position for the 21-year-old Larson, who was driving the No. 42 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Busch and Matt Kenseth were second and third, respectively.

Busch ran a lap at 15.436 seconds (124.307 mph) in the No. 54 Toyota, while Kenseth drove his No. 20 Toyota to a time of 15.451 seconds (124.186 mph).

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Eddie McDonald powered past Ben Rhodes with two laps to go to win the PittLite 125 for NASCAR K&N Pro Series on Saturday evening.

McDonald, a series veteran from Massachusetts, pushed Rhodes up the track on the previous restart and then powered by on the inside  for the winning pass.

Gray Gaulding, a 16-year-old from Virginia, passed Rhodes, a 17-year-old from Kentucky, for second. All three of the top finishers were in Chevrolets. 

The race went 132 laps, seven laps past the scheduled distance. McDonald led just two laps after Rhodes was in front for the first 130 laps. 

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Fan voting opens today for the May 17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Fans will vote one driver into the all-star race. Danica Patrick was the fans’ choice last season, while Kasey Kahne in 2008 is the only driver to transfer from the fan vote and win the All-Star race.

Voting goes through Friday, May 16, one day before the race.

The Fan Vote will include a sweepstakes which awards one voter a trio for two to any 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup race of his choice among other prizes.

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Jimmy Owens won the first round of the Spring Thaw late Friday night at Volunteer Speedway.

Owens, nicknamed the “Newport Nightmare,” pulled away from contenders Chris Madden and Scott Bloomquist at the start of the 40-lap feature and led the rest of the way.

Bloomquist, the legendary driver from Mooresburg, hounded South Carolina driver Madden throughout the race, but he wasn’t able to make the pass for second.

Piney Flats driver Jensen Ford led flag-to-flag to win a 30-lap Crate Late Model race, while Tim Maupin of Johnson City took the runner-up spot. Warren McMahan of Dandridge finished third.

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