March 16, 2014 — Staff report — NASCAR photo — BRISTOL, Tenn. — The Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway is currently under a red-flag condition due to rain, which has delayed the action for the second time today.
Drivers have completed 124 laps of the 500-lap event on the 0.533-mile track.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth was leading when the weather returned.
Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing), Brad Keselowski (Team Penske), Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing) and Dale Earnhardt Jr.(Hendrick Motorsports) were running second through fifth when the race was halted.
“I think we’re pretty close, but track conditions are going to change a lot,” Kenseth said during the delay. “It’s going to change again now with the rain and then as it builds up rubber and the groove gets up to the rim eventually, assuming we have more than 100 or 150 laps without rain.”
Keselowski moved to the front early, overtaking pole sitter Denny Hamlin once the race began. Lapped traffic eventual slowed the leader, however, and Keselowski eventually lost the lead to teammate Joey Logano.
A competition caution, due to the morning rain, allowed defending series champion Jimmie Johnson to get out front with a two-tire stop. The move came back to bite the Hendrick driver, however, as he was forced to pit road prior to the red flag with a flat right-front tire. He returned to the track 39th, two laps down.
Logano also had issues, although his came in the form of a loss of power steering. “It’s impossible to turn at this point,” Logano told his crew. “I cannot turn.”
Back-to-back debris cautions slowed the pace of the race, but failed to shake up the running order as the majority of the lead-lap cars stayed on the track.
Kenseth had moved around Johnson to take the top spot on Lap 98.
The start of the race was delayed 1 hour, 44 minutes due to rain.
Air Titan track driers are finishing track drying efforts and NASCAR is looking to have the race restarted shortly and drivers have been called to their cars, though the cars are still covered on pit road.