Joe Gibbs Racing has proved dominant in the first seven races of 2016, with Denny Hamlin winning the Daytona 500 and Kyle Busch winning both the STP 500 at Martinsville and Duck Commander 500 at Texas. Now Carl Edwards has contributed to the team’s ongoing success, winning the Food City 500 at Bristol after leading 276 of 500 laps.
In behind Edwards was Dale Eanrhardt Jr., who got off to a terrible start Sunday after accidentally activating the kill switch on his car by applying too much brake pressure. He pitted in order for the Hendrick team to reboot the ECU, costing him two laps, but made up position through a succession of good restarts on the outside lane.
“Just warming the brakes up, I engaged that system to kill the throttle,” Earnhardt told NASCAR.com “I was warming the brakes up like I always do, and apparently I applied too much pressure and it killed the motor.”
“We got real lucky the last three restarts to be on the outside line,” he added. “We restarted 10th, sixth and fourth, and when you restart fourth, you’re typically going to come out in second place after that. I was hoping we didn’t have any more cautions after that. So it was good. We’ll take it.”
Another Team Chevy driver, Kevin Harvick, may have had a shot at the win if it weren’t for a bit of bad luck. The No. 4 Chevrolet driver had a quick car, but was unable to capitalize on its speed due to drawing the inside lane on restarts and ended up seventh. With so much speed on the outside at Bristol, drawing the inside can quickly become precarious for a driver.
Similar to Harvick, Kyle Busch was another contender that many thought would post a strong finish at Bristol but didn’t. The defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champ blew two right front tires and hit the wall twice before retiring from the race in 38th position.
Other Team Chevy drivers in the top ten included Kurt Busch in third, Chase Elliott in fourth (his career-best Sprint Cup finish), Harvick in seventh, Clint Bowyer in eighth and Ryan Newman in ninth. Click here for full results from Bristol and here for a schedule of next weekend’s NASCAR festivities at Richmond.