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Once again, Bristol delivers the best racing in NASCAR

Jeff Birchfield • Jun 2, 2020 at 1:01 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Even without fans, Bristol Motor Speedway delivered NASCAR’s best race of the season.

Sunday’s Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 was a Bristol classic, one in which Brad Keselowski scored the win after leaders Joey Logano and Chase Elliott crashed in front of him.

Conditions were perfect for the first sellout crowd for a Bristol race since 2008. A nation full of sports-starved fans ready to come to a major event. “Chamber of Commerce weather” with a beautiful blue sky over the speedway and temperatures in the 70s.

Unfortunately, fans were unable to attend because of the coronavirus restrictions.

And unusual for a NASCAR weekend at Bristol in recent years, there was no rain in the forecast.

The action-packed, 500-lap contest was easily the best Cup Series race of the season.

Veteran motorsports writer Jeff Gluck conducts a poll every week on his website with the simple question: “Was it a good race?” Two of the top three races since Gluck started the poll are Bristol races. The early voting on Sunday’s race is the best of 2020, rivaling the 2018 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race as the best since the start of the poll.

The slam-bang affair featured 17 caution periods and 21 lead changes. It had the late-race drama with some of the sport’s biggest stars involved.

Elliott, NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver, raced to the front when leaders Logano and Denny Hamlin drifted high into the turn 4 wall with 11 laps to go.

Eight laps later, Elliott and Logano crashed near the same spot, and Keselowski powered by for the win.

One can imagine the roar of the crowd if the stadium had been full of fans.

Throughout the event, there was compelling action and plenty of great story lines to follow. Defending NASCAR champion Kyle Busch was sent to the back of the field early with a pit-road speeding penalty but worked his way all the way back to the lead before fading at the end.

Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson ran amongst the contenders all day before posting a third-place finish.

Clint Bowyer had perhaps the most unlikely second-place finish in recent memory. He had a good call by his crew chief and the good fortune to not get caught up in an accident for the runner-up finish.

More of the same greeted racers Monday, another

picture-perfect day with warm weather. It was comfortable when the Cheddar’s 300 presented by Alsco took the green flag at 7 p.m.

With such great weather and great action, it was truly a blessing at Bristol Motor Speedway with the best that NASCAR has to offer. Unfortunately, the fans weren’t there to witness it.

We can hope they will back in full force in September when BMS hosts the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race as part of the NASCAR playoffs.

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