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Johnson is the defending race winner and will have to start at the rear of the field after his team had to change a tire after qualifying. (Photo: Getty Images)

Bristol Story Lines

Update: PRN has the radio broadcast and the race took the green flag at 1:34 p.m. ET. The race went under the red flag for rain at Lap 49, Lap 165 and now at Lap 204. The race has been postponed to Monday at 1 p.m. ET (Read More).

Blaney Swept Up in Accident After Leading 100 Laps | Paint Schemes

There are plenty of stories to keep an eye on during Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Mother Nature…Again
Two races ago it was a snowstorm at Martinsville that punted the STP 500 to a Monday afternoon. Last week Texas Motor Speedway went from 80 degree temperatures on Friday to cold and windy condition the rest of the weekend. Now there is rain in the forecast for Bristol’s first Cup race of the season. There are two positives to the dire forecast; there was a 100 percent chance of rain in Atlanta for the second race of the year that went off without a hitch and Bristol does have lights. Hopefully we’ll get the Food City 500 in on its scheduled day.

Short Track Race No. 2
Clint Bowyer’s Martinsville victory was a very popular win among fans as the veteran driver ended his 190-race drought. But the season’s first short track race was far from the typical rough and tumble affair most expect at Martinsville. There were only five yellows that day with two thrown for the ends of stages and another a competition caution to check tire wear. Will Bristol be the same story or will there be a bit more contact and fender rubbing?

Back of the Pack
There are a some significant drivers who must work their way from the rear of the field Sunday in Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson. Busch had qualified outside the front row but in the closing moments of Saturday’s final practice session he slammed the wall. Busch will start in a back-up car without any laps run. Harvick crashed his primary car in Friday’s opening weekend practice and did not attempt to qualify in his back-up. Johnson is the defending race winner and was forced to the rear of the field after the team had to change a tire after qualifying. The trio of drivers should be fun to watch trying to dice their way up to the front.

Keeping Up With Jones?
Look at the top Bristol driver averages over the last ten races at the .533-mile short track and you’ll find the name of Erik Jones at 9.5. Now to be fair the sample size is very small with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver having only two career Cup starts at the track last year as a member of Furniture Row Racing. But after finishing 17th last spring, Jones led 260 laps to finish second in the summer Bristol night race. He seems poised to score a first Cup victory soon – he led 64 laps last week in Texas – and Bristol might very well be where that happens.

Time to Make a Move
We’re seven races into the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and there are a number of drivers in dire need of a good run to turnaround slow starts to the campaign. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is hoping to recapture some of his Bristol magic Sunday as a means of ending a season full of struggles that has dropped him to 22nd in the standings. His Roush Fenway Racing teammate Trevor Bayne, a Knoxville native that calls Bristol home, is six spots behind Stenhouse Jr. in 28th. Daniel Suarez, Chris Buescher and Kasey Kahne are also among the group looking for a shot in the arm at “Thunder Valley” on Sunday.

Busch Going for Two
Kyle Busch is not only going for his second straight win of the season, but also his second consecutive at Bristol. Busch, who will start from the pole, won last weekend at Texas for his first victory of the year. He won his sixth race at Bristol in the Cup Series last summer after leading 156 laps.