BRISTOL, Tenn. — Key takeaways from Monday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway:
WINNER: Jimmie Johnson scored his second consecutive victory, taking the lead with less than 25 laps to go Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway in race postponed a day by rain.
Johnson, who earned his 82nd career Cup win, earned back-to-back victories for the 11th time in his career. He won at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9 to claim his first win of the season. The seven-time series champion's last and only win at Bristol came in 2010, when he went on to win his fifth consecutive title.
“This track has been really difficult for me over the years,” said Johnson, who led 81 of 500 laps. “Huge credit to Mr. Hendrick and the place he lets us work. My guys nailed their pit stops all day long. This track has always been very racy. Now that we can run two or three-wide, we can put on a heckuva show.
Clint Bowyer took second — his best finish since the 2013 spring race at Richmond International Raceway, where he was the runnner-up.
“We were in the right place there where we could put four tires on and capitalize on that," Bowyer said on pit road after the race. "I had to make quick time. I got cleared of them and got away. What a day, from battling all the way from the back all the way to the front. When it’s been that long since you’ve won and you get that close, it’s pretty hard.”
Kevin Harvick finished third followed by Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano. Pole-sitter Kyle Larson finished sixth, followed by Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Denny Hamlin.
SPEEDING TICKETS: Larson, who won Stage 1 and had battled his way back into the top three after falling back in the top 10, sped on pit road on Lap 422. Larson had to go to the back of the pack. Later on a caution on Lap 465, Martin Truex Jr., the Stage 2 winner, who was running second, was caught for speeding exiting the pits.
TIRE TROUBLE: Kyle Busch’s tire problems continued at Bristol. On lap 210, one of Busch’s right-side tires went flat and he clipped the wall in Turn 2. He stayed in the race after a trip to pit road only to be forced out after another tire lost pressure on Lap 383. “I don’t know why the fastest car out there keeps blowing tires,” Busch said after he was evaluated in the infield care center. “We were coming through the field twice and if people want to see racing and (cars) coming from the back to the front, you have to have tires that will last. ”Busch blasted Goodyear after a tire went down at the season-opening Daytona 500 in February. Goodyear ran a test that it showed was driver error, not a defect in the tire. He called Goodyear tires “junk” earlier this month in Martinsville. Busch said he wasn't going to talk with Goodyear officials this time.
EARLY DAY FOR DALE JR.: Dale Earnhardt Jr. brushed the wall entering Turn 2 on Lap 219 of the Food City 500 and the underlying engine issue in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet led to his third DNF of the season. “We broke something in the oil system and oil got onto the tires,” Earnhardt told USA TODAY Sports. “We got into the wall.” Earnhardt was checked and released from the infield care center as part of NASCAR’s mandatory evaluation for any driver forced from a race this season.
STAGE 2: Truex, who won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 12, tracked down Larson and passed him on Lap 202. Joey Logano also was putting pressure on Larson, who led every lap until that point. Truex built a lead of more than a second and Larson dropped back, getting loose and getting into Denny Hamlin. Truex ran smooth and seamless once he took the lead. The stage also saw the crash involving Earnhardt on Lap 217, when the No. 88 Chevrolet got into the wall. His car dropped oil on the track, which required extra cleanup. Larson, the Stage 1 winner, fell to seventh.
STAGE 1: With qualifying rained out, Larson started at the front of the pack since he entered the race atop the drivers' standings. Larson is vying for his second victory of the season after taking the Auto Club 400 in Fontana, Calif., on March 26. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver led each of the first 125 laps. Kurt Busch was the first driver to lose traction and spin out on the half-mile oval that lost most of its grip after more than a day of constant rain. Back in the pack, Chris Buescher was unable to stop in time and ran into the back of Reed Sorensen. Buescher’s JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevrolet suffered major front-end damage and became the first car forced out of the race. The wreck on Lap 56 brought out the first caution and, eventually, the first red flag as workers cleaned up the cooling fluid left on the track by Buescher’s car.