Bristol, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Persistent rain has created an afternoon- long of frustration for drivers and race fans at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday.
The start of the Food City 500 at Bristol was delayed nearly two hours due to inclement weather. NASCAR officials then had to stop the race after 124 of 500 laps were completed when more showers moved over the area.
Matt Kenseth was leading the way when the caution flag waved for rain on lap 118. As the precipitation intensified, the field came to a stop on pit road seven laps later. NASCAR's new track-drying system, the Air Titan, has been on this 0.533-mile, high-banked oval. The Air Titan was designed to shorten the amount of track-drying time. It takes about an hour to dry this track.
Kenseth is attempting to win at Bristol for the second straight time. He won the night race here last August.
"The track conditions are going to change a lot with the rain," Kenseth said. "[Crew chief] Jason [Ratcliff] and his group did a great job [Saturday] in getting our Home Depot Toyota close. I think we need to work on it a little bit and keep up with the track here as the race goes on. But we seem to be in the ballpark."
Jamie McMurray held the second spot, while Brad Keselowski, who won last weekend's race at Las Vegas, was third. Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are in the fourth and fifth positions, respectively.
Sixth through 10th were: Kevin Harvick, rookie Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, the pole sitter, Kasey Kahne, who won last year's spring race at Bristol, and Aric Almirola.
Joey Logano led 12 laps in the early going, but just before the 100-lap mark, Logano lost his power steering. He is running one lap behind in 28th.
"I'd say 500 laps is gonna be a lot longer than I thought it was gonna be around here, but [crew chief] Todd Gordon and the guys are putting a plan together," Logano said. "There's so much load here, and the car is pressing so hard down on the racetrack that it makes it so hard to steer. It feels like it's working against you. I was already huffing and puffing pretty hard trying to get the thing to turn."
Jimmie Johnson, the six-time and defending Sprint Cup champion, also had an issue before the race was stopped. Johnson blew his right-front tire and had to pit unexpectedly. He was running in second at the time of his incident.
"It was a really weird deal," Johnson said. "The tire has air in it, but the tread came off the top of it. That slowed me down, and I lost control. I thought I had a flat. Came to pit road. The tire wasn't flat, but the tread isn't on it anymore."
Johnson is three laps down in 39th place.
Jeff Gordon, who is Johnson's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, had a run-in with David Ragan on pit road during the competition caution (lap 50). While exiting his pit stall, Gordon bumped into Ragan and spun him around.
"That incident was on us," Gordon said while taking the blame. "It is our responsibility to get out of the box clean. With so many cars there on the lead lap with the competition caution, we just made a little mistake there. That definitely got us behind."
Gordon remains on the lead lap in 16th.
Last month, the season-opening Daytona 500 featured a rain delay of 6 hours and 22 minutes. The race resumed under the lights at Daytona International Speedway, and Earnhardt took the checkered flag shortly before midnight.