Historic Moments from Bristol Motor Speedway’s Food City 500

As we inch closer to the Bristol Motor Speedway’s Food City 500, expectations and excitement are running high for not only NASCAR and its teams but for fans as well.

Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the NASCAR’s finest track and known for its superlative action, drama and excitement.

The second-longest continuous sponsorship of a NASCAR race is the 25-year partnership between Food City and Bristol Motor Speedway. As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns for April 23 for the Food City 500, we look at 10 of the best moments from Bristol’s spring race.

  1. One of the most dramatic finishes in Bristol Motor Speedway history took place at the 1990 Spring Race when Davey Allison led a pack of hard-charging cars to the finish line. Mark Martin emerged from the pack as a challenger to Allison as Sterling Marlin spun out of control. Martin darted low in his machine and pulled beside Allison as the checkered flag waved. Allison took the win by a margin of eight inches. At the time, before the introduction of electronic scoring, the result stood as one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history.
  2. The first night race at Bristol was held in August 1978 where Cale Yarborough scored his fifth victory in six races at the high-banked short track.
  3. Legendary Cale Yarborough, with the second-most all-time wins at Bristol, regarded as one of the toughest drivers in NASCAR history. In 1973, Yarborough led all 500 laps becoming the first and only driver to achieve the feat in the Cup Series at the track.
  4. Darrell Waltrip leads all drivers at Bristol with 12 career wins. The most impressive stretch of dominance by a driver at the short track came from 1981 to 1984 when Waltrip won seven straight races.
  5. Rusty Wallace’s best track was Bristol Motor Speedway. The 2000 Food City 500 was Wallace’s eighth win here and his last victory in the spring race. He won the fall race that season as well, capping off wins in three of four races at The Last Great Colosseum from 1999-2000.
  6. March 24, 2002: Jimmy Spencer, driver of the No. 41 Ganassi Racing Dodge, and Kurt Busch, then driving the No. 97 for Roush Fenway Racing, tangled on track for the second time in as many seasons. At the 2002 Food City 500, Busch spun Spencer en route to the victory. After their Bristol tussle, the two continued to spar during several races in 2002 and into 2003. Their multi-year war remains one of the most celebrated feuds in NASCAR history.
  7. March 26, 2006: Short tracks have a tendency to spark short tempers and the 2006 Food City 500 was no different. Battling for position, Jeff Gordon nudged Matt Kenseth out of the way late to better his chances of securing the win.
  8. On March 21, 2010, on the path to his fifth premier series championship, Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson earned his 50th series win at Bristol. Johnson now is up to 81 career wins.
  9. Kyle Busch has five wins at Bristol, the most the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing driver has at any track. But the last one came six years ago on March 20, 2011, at the Food City 500, which was renamed the Jeff Byrd 500 presented by Food City to honor the speedway president who died in 2010.
  10. April 17, 2016: Carl Edwards performs his trademark backflip after winning the Food City 500. No one knew at the time that it might be Edwards’ last victory at the track, as he abruptly walked away from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing after the 2016 season.
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