BRISTOL, Tenn – Heading into Friday night’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race, the favorites for the Food City 300 were obvious. Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer were going to be the ones to beat.
Instead, literally all of them encountered problems during Friday’s race under the lights at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway.
It all got started on Lap 36 when Logano, Jones, Bell and Custer were all involved in a crazy crash when Matt Mills ran high exiting Turn 2 and didn’t know Custer was there. That sent Custer’s No. 00 Ford into the outside SAFER barrier at turn exit which shot him back down into Bell’s No. 20 Toyota. The duo would come to rest in Turn 3 but Jones didn’t have enough time to slow down and slammed into Jones’ car. Logano, was behind Jones and he too couldn’t slow down quick enough and ran into Jones.
Logano, was scored with a 37th place finish, his worst in 13 career NXS starts in Thunder Valley. In fact, heading into this weekend, Logano had nine consecutive top 10 finishes in NXS competition at Bristol including two wins and six top fives.
Jones, was credited in 36th in his No. 81 Toyota. It was his first start of the season in this series but his worst finish of his career at Bristol. He was 33rd in this race after starting from the pole in 2016. He won the race before and after that result. He had four top eight finishes in five Bristol tries entering this weekend.
Bell and Custer would ride multiple laps down from that point on and finish 14th and 22nd respectively.
Bell, finished second in this race last year and won back in April. Also, he had six straight top three finishes heading into this weekend including a win and four runner-ups in the last five weeks in general. Go back to Iowa on Fathers Day weekend and you’d see Bell had a top three finish in literally every week since with the exception of one.
For Custer, he had four top two finishes in the last eight weeks including six top eight finishes in that same time frame. He also had four straight top 10 finishes at Bristol too.
Then there was Busch. He led 137 of the first 171 laps but had to go behind the wall at the end of the second stage, after he won at that, due to his engine blowing in his No. 18 Toyota. He’d finish 29th because of that. It was Busch’s third finish of 24th or worse in his last three NXS starts at Bristol.
Heading into this weekend, Busch lead the series in poles (six), wins (nine), top fives (17) and laps led (2,067) on the high banked Tennessee oval. Busch, won this race in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017, so 2019 made sense to keep the trend going. In four of his first five starts this season, he’s either finished first or second too. Now, he leaves with his worst result of the year.
Bell, Custer and Reddick finished 1-3 back in April too.