NASCAR at Bristol results: Denny Hamlin holds off Martin Truex Jr. to win Food City 500 defined by tire wear (2024)

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- After a 500-lap battle of attrition, Denny Hamlin held off Martin Truex Jr. to win the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, earning his first victory of the 2024 season and his second-straight at Bristol. Hamlin came out on top in a race defined by tire management, managing his pace effectively enough to last until the end and hold off Truex in heavy lapped traffic.

After a number of cautions throughout the day -- most of which came at the end of the tires' life cycle due to extreme wear -- Hamlin and Truex settled in at the front of the field over the final green flag run, maintaining Joe Gibbs Racing's control over the race despite teammates Ty Gibbs and Christopher Bell falling by the wayside. Hamlin's win is the second in a row for Joe Gibbs Racing and for Toyota, following up on Bell's victory last weekend at Phoenix.

Food City 500 unofficial results

  1. #11 - Denny Hamlin
  2. #19 - Martin Truex Jr.
  3. #6 - Brad Keselowski
  4. #48 - Alex Bowman
  5. #5 - Kyle Larson
  6. #42 - John Hunter Nemechek
  7. #17 - Chris Buescher
  8. #9 - Chase Elliott
  9. #54 - Ty Gibbs
  10. #20 - Christopher Bell

On a day where tire wear created uncomfortable situations for many drivers in the field, Hamlin -- who grew up racing on abrasive short tracks throughout Southern Virginia -- found himself right in his comfort zone on his way to his 52nd career victory.

"That's what I grew up doing, here on the short tracks of the whole Mid-Atlantic. South Boston, Martinsville, all of those tracks -- It's just what I grew up doing," Hamlin told Fox Sports. "Once it became a tire management race, I really liked our chances. But obviously the veteran in Martin, he knew how to do it as well.

"We just had a great car, great team. The pit crew just did a phenomenal job all day, I can't say enough about them. ... Man, it feels so good to win at Bristol."

The variables in play turned Sunday's race at Bristol into a historic one. The lead changed hands a total of 54 times, setting a new NASCAR record for the most lead changes in any short track race in history. The 54 lead changes broke the track record of 40 set in spring 1991, and a mark of 16 different leaders tied the track record from the spring of 1989.

Sunday's race also marked the first time in 20 years that only five cars or less finished on the lead lap. Prior to Sunday, the last Cup Series race to feature that few cars on the lead lap came in June 2004, when Mark Martin won a race at Dover that also saw just five cars finish on the lead lap.

Worn out and wild

Prior to the green flag Sunday, there was a feeling that tire wear and tire management could play a factor in determining who would run up front and who would have the sustained speed to last over the course of a run. What no one predicted, however, was exactly how much tire wear there would be and how drastically it would alter the course of the day's 500 laps.

From the first run onward, each green flag run featured extreme tire wear and falloff, resulting in drivers having to back off dramatically in order to keep from burning the set of tires they had off and forcing them to pit for fresh tires at every possible opportunity. Although both the left and right side tire compounds were the same ones used in last September's Bristol Night Race, the application of a resin compound as opposed to PJ1 traction compound in the lower lane changed the way the tires reacted, creating much more extreme wear than Goodyear had anticipated as the track did not take rubber.

The importance of fresh tires was illustrated writ large on the first restart of the day, as it took just one lap for Tyler Reddick to get swallowed up and spun in front of traffic after staying out on old tires to take the lead.

"We tested here last year with the intent to come up with a tire package that generated more tire wear. That was the request from NASCAR and the teams. And we feel like we had a very successful test, we feel like we had a very successful race in the fall of last year," Goodyear's Greg Stucker told reporters mid-race. "... Now, we're trying to understand what's different, why the racetrack is behaving differently this weekend than what it did a year ago. It's the same package, it's the same tire combination. Obviously the difference is resin was placed on the lower groove instead of the PJ1. Yet I still think the racetrack should be taking rubber as it did last fall. It took rubber immediately during that race."

A myriad of drivers -- including Hamlin himself -- had tires wear down to the chords, with some tires even going down and sending drivers either spinning or toward the wall. That greatly influenced the pace of the race, as drivers progressively adapted and found themselves backing their pace down as runs went on in order to save their tires.

That led to some striking visuals, as several runs saw multiple cars close together and stacked on top of one another at the front of the field as the savviest of the frontrunners were content to let other drivers take the lead and be the "rabbit" setting the pace for everyone else. Hamlin ended up leading the most laps with 163, with Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Ty Gibbs (137) and Martin Truex Jr. (54) the only other drivers to lead more than 50 laps on the day.

As the field was forced to adapt, NASCAR and Goodyear were also put in a position where they needed to improvise. After the first half the race saw the field be on pace to burn through their 11 allotted sets of sticker tires, Goodyear worked to provide the entire field with an additional set of fresh tires to alleviate such concerns. That came in handy, as nine cautions on the day created just as many opportunities to come to pit road and put on fresh tires.

Lapped traffic was also a factor on the day, particularly during the final green flag run as a cycle of green flag pit stops developed and drivers on fresh tires had an extreme advantage in speed over cars on worn tires. After one close call navigating lapped traffic occurred when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Austin Cindric spun out right in front of Hamlin and Gibbs, the race for the win ultimately unfolded as Hamlin and Truex had to find the most efficient route through heavy lapped traffic.

Overall, the eventful and at times chaotic nature of Sunday's race made for a marked departure from the at-times maligned nature of Cup racing on short tracks since the Next Gen car proved to be poorly optimized for smaller ovals. The nature of the race was well received by the drivers in particular, as several referenced it hearkening back to their formative days racing on short tracks on their way up to NASCAR's highest level.

"You go to any of these local short tracks, that's how you have to race. Have take care of your stuff," Brad Keselowski told Fox Sports. "It's refreshing. It's different. I like that, that it takes something different every week. That's what makes Cup so hard. You go in every week, some weeks you drive 'em till you burn 'em down, this week you got to take care of 'em. It was fun."

"That was something I excelled at, and I feel like I was able to apply that today," Alex Bowman said, referencing his experience racing in ARCA over a decade ago. "In the Cup Series, we run hard every single lap all race these days. Kind of fun to go back to that. Maybe too far back to that. But glad we ended up on the right end of it."

Race results rundown

  • While the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas maintained a strong presence at the front of the field, John Hunter Nemechek spent much of the day showing off the pace to match them in his Legacy Motor Club Toyota. Nemechek ran well up inside the top five at certain points before finishing sixth, improving his career-best Cup finish for the second time this season.
  • There were times where it looked as though Sunday would be Ty Gibbs' day to earn his first career win, as he boasted arguably the fastest car in the field and proved to have extremely quick pace on multiple occasions. Worn tires would spoil Gibbs' chances of victory, but he would set a new career-high mark for laps led in a single race (137) on his way to finishing ninth.
  • Also setting a new career-high for laps led in a single race was Hendersonville, Tenn.'s Josh Berry, who led twice for 25 laps after starting from the outside pole. Despite a mid-race spin, Berry would cycle into the top five following green flag pit stops and parlayed his extensive short track experience into a season-best 12th place finish. Berry was one of three Stewart-Haas Racing cars to finish in the top 15 along with Chase Briscoe in 13th and Ryan Preece in 14th.
  • Both of the Rick Ware Racing cars had strong runs, with Justin Haley and Kaz Grala both making their way into the top 10 at certain portions of the race and staying there. Haley would finish 17th and Grala would finish 19th, with Haley's run marking his best finish of the season so far.
  • While he ran up front early and even led five laps, Kyle Busch had yet another rough day on a short track as he dealt with tire issues and spun multiple times during the day. Busch would wind up finishing two laps down in 25th, marking his third-straight finish outside the top 20 after pit road issues at Las Vegas and poor overall performance at Phoenix.
  • Despite the nature of the race, the attrition rate was fairly low: 35 of the 36 cars that started the race were running at the finish, with Zane Smith being the lone exception after an early crash and a blown tire gave way to engine issues that sidelined him after 192 laps. Smith's DNF is his second in what's turned into a rough start to his rookie year in Cup.

Next race

The NASCAR Cup Series goes from short track racing to its first road course race of the season, the Echopark Texas Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas, next Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

NASCAR at Bristol results: Denny Hamlin holds off Martin Truex Jr. to win Food City 500 defined by tire wear (2024)

FAQs

NASCAR at Bristol results: Denny Hamlin holds off Martin Truex Jr. to win Food City 500 defined by tire wear? ›

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- After a 500-lap battle of attrition, Denny Hamlin held off Martin Truex Jr. to win the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, earning his first victory of the 2024 season and his second-straight at Bristol.

What happened to tires at Bristol? ›

Tires used in Sunday's race were the same tire code that Goodyear provided for teams in September, leading to more confusion in figuring out why it behaved so differently Sunday than it did during the playoff race last fall. “Yesterday was a drastic departure from what we expected,” Stucker said Monday on SiriusXM.

How long does a NASCAR tire last? ›

With massive tire wear, where tires could only last roughly 40 to 70 laps on the cars, the race -- at least in the beginning -- felt like a true crapshoot. Typically, tires last for 100-plus laps with no issue in NASCAR Cup Series events at the half-mile track in Tennessee.

Did Martin Truex ever win the Daytona 500? ›

Truex has accomplished pretty much it all in his career as a Cup champion (2017) with 34 wins but has never won the Daytona 500. He wouldn't rule out another start in that race when asked.

Why is Martin Truex Jr. retiring? ›

NEWTON, Iowa (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. announced Friday he will retire from full-time racing at the end of the season, saying it was time to live by his own schedule after 19 years in NASCAR's Cup Series.

Why is Bristol so hard on tires? ›

During the 500-mile race, Goodyear's director of racing, Greg Stucker, spoke to the media to describe the situation at hand. “We tested here last fall with the intent to come up with a tire package that generated more tire wear,” Stucker began. “That was the request from NASCAR and the teams.

Did Cooper tire get bought out? ›

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (Nasdaq: GT) today announced that it has completed its acquisition of Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, finalizing the merger agreement made public on February 22.

What does a NASCAR Cup tire cost? ›

According to Hamlin, each tire cost $2400, and teams were given 8 sets of tires. This means teams spent $19,200 for the Texas race weekend. Multiply that over 36 regular season races, and that's an estimate of $691,200 for just one car. For teams with multiple cars, this means costs could be well over $1-2 Million.

Who is the youngest NASCAR driver to win the Daytona 500? ›

6 Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing. On February 20, 2011 Trevor Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500. Bayne is the youngest driver to win the Daytona 500.

Who is the oldest NASCAR driver to win the Daytona 500? ›

Four drivers have won the event twice in a row, but no one has won three or more consecutively. Trevor Bayne and Bobby Allison are the youngest and oldest Daytona 500 winners, winning at the ages of 20 years and 1 day in 2011 and 50 years, 2 months, and 11 days old in 1988, respectively.

What NASCAR driver has the most races without a win? ›

John Delphus McDuffie Jr.

He competed in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series from 1963 to 1991, collecting 106 top-10 finishes during his career, despite never finishing on the lead lap of any race in his career, and holding the record for the most starts in NASCAR's top level without a win with 653.

Who is retiring from NASCAR in 2024? ›

Martin Truex Jr. plans to retire from Cup racing after the 2024 season, capping a career that includes the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series championship and currently 34 Cup wins.

Does Martin Truex have a son? ›

Personal life. He is the younger brother of 2017 Cup Series champion and two-time Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr., and the son of former Busch Series driver Martin Truex Sr.

Did Martin Truex and Sherry Pollex split up? ›

Martin and Sherry broke up in January 2023, just months before she died of cancer. Sherry's death ultimately led Martin to post a message of condolence, but it only made Danica more convinced that the NASCAR champion was being incredibly cold about the death of a woman he had dated for more than 20 years.

Why are tires out of stock everywhere? ›

The tire shortage goes back to a rubber shortage. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rubber producers have not been able to plant as many new trees as they normally would. To make things worse, existing trees are suffering the effects of leaf disease and flooding, which is causing the supply to drop dramatically.

What happened to Uniroyal tires? ›

In 1990, Uniroyal was acquired by French tire maker Michelin and ceased to exist as a separate business. Today around 1,000 workers in the U.S. remain employed by Michelin to make its Uniroyal brand products.

What happened to the Bristol car company? ›

Efforts to revive Bristol began in 2015 with the announcement of “Project Pinnacle” and a two-seater roadster called the Bullet was revealed at Goodwood in 2016. In 2020 the car maker went into liquidation and its assets including part-built cars and designs were sold.

What ever happened to white wall tires? ›

Why did white wall tires disappear? White wall tires began to disappear from the market when manufacturers began to decrease the height of the tires. The thick white stripe along the sidewalls did not allow tire brands to create tires with lower sidewall profiles. For this reason, entirely black tires became popular.

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