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OBSERVATIONS: Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway

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Some of NASCAR’s loyal fan base have been begging for the old Bristol Motor Speedway to return – single-groove along the bottom, with bumpers and rooting needed to make ground. The racing on Thursday for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series gave hope that was the direction headed for concrete half-mile.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series debunked the theory with drivers using the top lane, but that was fine as the racing was still exciting all throughout.

Just like the last night with the other two series, there was racing all the way around the half-mile for positions all the time. It did not seem that a driver could be found by themselves as if they cleared their competitors, lap traffic came into question. That was fine, since it gave the fans something to watch all night long.

Although the top groove was the place to be, there was a way for passes to be made through the middle and bottom lanes of the track. Just ask Tyler Reddick. He started from the tail of the field, and drove his way to the second. He would spin while underneath Justin Allgaier for position, but managed to drive his way from 24th back to the front once again.

Essentially, he was a beast behind the wheel – fitting with Tame The BEAST as the sponsor of the No. 2 Chevrolet, and deserved to be in victory lane by race’s end. However, he did not have the quickest car at the end of the event.

Allgaier had been able to gap Reddick on the long green flag run, and was able to do so on the restart until a tire issue took him out of contention. Now after leading over 300 laps in both Bristol Motor Speedway races this year, he has just a 30th and eighth-place finish to show for it.

As he said post-race, that’s been “the story of our season,” in a year that has seen the veteran overshadowed by the big three young stars in the series – Reddick, Cole Custer, and Christopher Bell. After winning five races last season, the No. 7 has yet to reach victory lane in 2019 with nine top-five’s in 22 races. It has not been for lack of effort, as he has ran up front throughout the year, but bad luck in the form of mechanical issues or wrecks has continued to take him out of contention when it matters.

Considering JR Motorsports is one of the big teams in the series, it’s a shock to realize they have not won since Michael Annett scored the victory in the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. It’s certainly got to be disappointing after placing three drivers in the Championship 4 in 2018.

While Allgaier’s disappointment is the highlight of the night, there’s many ways the race at Bristol could have gone differently on Friday night. Kyle Busch blew up after winning the second stage – what if that does not happen? There was also the incident on Lap 38 that collected Custer, Bell, Erik Jones, and Joey Logano at once. What if they would have gotten to contend? The worst part is a lap car caused those contenders to be out of the event. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.