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Cup Series champs ruled Food City 500 in 2010s

Jeff Birchfield • Apr 4, 2020 at 8:30 PM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — The cream rose to the top at Bristol Motor Speedway over the past decade.

Of the 10 most recent Food City 500s, seven were won by NASCAR Cup Series champions. Kyle Busch won three, Jimmie Johnson won two, and Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski won one each.

Carl Edwards accounted for two other victories and Kasey Kahne got one.

We start our look back at the previous decade with:

2010 — Johnson won his first Bristol race and for the 50th time in his career. After starting sixth on a late-race restart, Johnson powered his No. 48 Chevrolet to the front, taking the lead from Tony Stewart with seven laps to go.

Kurt Busch had the fastest car most of the race. He led 278 laps but was stuck on the inside on the final restart and finished third.

It was the last race for the wing on the “Car of Tomorrow.” A spoiler replaced the wing for the next race at Martinsville.

2011 — The race was actually called the Jeff Byrd 500 presented by Food City as a tribute to the late speedway president. In a familiar theme throughout the decade at Bristol, Kyle Busch, driving the No. 18 Toyota, followed up his sweep of August 2010 races at the high-banked track with his spring race win.

Busch took the lead from Carl Edwards with 26 laps to go. Edwards held on to finish second and Johnson was third. Johnson eventually went on to win a record fifth straight NASCAR championship.

2012 — Keselowski made it back-to-back Bristol wins by following his victory in the August night race with another trip to the winner’s circle. He became the third driver to win in the Roger Penske-owned blue No. 2 Dodge, joining Rusty Wallace and Kurt Busch.

Kenseth finished second and Martin Truex Jr. was third. Keselowski led 232 laps overall, including the final 111.

2013 — Kahne took over the lead during a caution period with 40 laps to go and held off Kyle Busch and Keselowski for the win. Driving the No. 5 Chevrolet, Kahne was a contender throughout the day, leading on six occasions.

Busch was looking for his third weekend sweep at Bristol after winning the Xfinity Series race the previous day.

Of note, Terry Labonte made his 883rd career start, tying him with Dave Marcis for third on the all-time list behind Richard Petty and Ricky Rudd.

2014 — Rain turned the 2014 Food City 500 into a night race and Edwards used pit strategy to gain track position and capture the win.

Edwards, in the No. 99 Ford, led the final 78 laps as the race went into overtime. The caution came out with three laps to go, but Edwards held off teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Aric Almirola in a 1-2-3 Ford finish.

2015 — This race was called the Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes and Stand Up to Cancer in honor of the longtime broadcaster’s fight with cancer. Also an overtime special, it went 511 laps.

Kenseth, driving the No. 20 Toyota, held off the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets of Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Kenseth led the final 34 laps and 47 overall after Kevin Harvick had problems late.

2016 — Edwards, who like Kenseth had made the jump from Roush Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing, scored his second Food City 500 victory in three years. Once again, the race — featuring former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning as grand marshal — was delayed by rain.

Edwards led 276 laps in the No. 19 Toyota and Dale Earnhardt Jr. recovered from being two laps down early to finish second. Kurt Busch finished third. Knoxville driver Trevor Bayne scored his first top-five finish since winning the 2011 Daytona 500.

2017 — Fresh off a record-tying seventh Cup Series championship, Johnson won the Food City 500 delayed one day by rain.

Johnson led three times for 81 laps, including the final 21. The Stewart-Haas Racing Fords of Clint Bowyer and Harvick took second and third. After crashing with David Ragan on lap 320, Danica Patrick finished 36th in her final Food City 500.

2018 — The Kyle and Kyle show saw Kyle Busch use the bump-and-run to pass Kyle Larson with six laps to go and take the win. Larson led 200 laps and Busch led 117.

Johnson finished third in the race that had two Knoxville drivers in the field. Bayne finished 24th in the No. 6 Ford and Chad Finchum, driving the No. 66 Toyota, was 33rd in his Cup Series debut.

2019 — Kyle Busch recovered from an early spin and took the lead with 19 laps to go to win his eighth Cup race at Bristol and record 22nd overall at the .533-mile track.

Busch took the lead when leader Joey Logano pitted for tires, leaving Busch to hold off older brother Kurt for the win. Logano, with four fresh tires, made a charge to finish third.

Kyle Busch’s 54th career win tied him with Lee Petty for 10th on NASCAR’s all-time list. Busch went on to win two more races and a second series championship that season.

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