BRISTOL, Tenn. — Kyle Larson is leading the NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, but he’ll have to wait a day to see if he can win it.
Steady rain forced NASCAR to suspend the Food City 500 on Lap 205 of the 500-lap race on Sunday. NASCAR plans to resume the race at 1 p.m. ET Monday.
AccuWeather predicts temperatures in the low-40s with a 40 percent chance of rain into the early afternoon. With Bristol in the mountains, some snow flurries aren’t out of the question.
That means different conditions than the humid, 60-degree weather Sunday.
Larson, who has led 74 laps, said his car should still handle well.
“I think so — maybe better, maybe a little freer,” Larson said. “All in all, I think it will be about the same balance.”
It was a little bit of a surprise that NASCAR got any of the race in Sunday amid the rain. There were three red flags — two for rain for a total of 52 minutes and one for an accident — before the race was finally stopped for good.
NASCAR made the decision at about 5 p.m. to not try to fit in the remainder of the race. It needed to get to Lap 250 (the end of stage 2) for it to count as an official race, but there were no clear indications that they could get in those 46 laps, let alone the race to its scheduled completion.
“It’s hard to get a rhythm going with all the rain and stuff, getting in the car and getting back in,” Larson said. “Our [car] is really fast. I’d just like to get some racing going.”
Larson has a good car, but the race could take a different dynamic with drivers likely knowing that they are racing to the completion of 500 laps instead of potentially 250.
Larson said he’s “feeling good about it” and expects the leaders to need to use the upper groove more Monday. He likes to race in that groove.
“It’s not going to remain a bottom-feeder race,” Larson said. “We were all just getting ready to move up to the top. You kind of just wait until you get to traffic, and then you can move up, and everybody’s momentum is bogged down [on the bottom].
“The bottom is the dominant lane for 30 laps or so. I don’t know if there is a dominant lane after that.”
One driver Larson won’t have to worry about is Ryan Blaney, who appeared to be one of the top contenders as he led 100 of the first 118 laps before an accident in which two slower cars wrecked in front of him and he crashed into them.
“I kind of saw them spinning low, and I thought that top was going to be OK, and then they slid back up and got us,” Blaney said. “That stinks. I thought we had a good car and nothing to show for it.”