Crew chief Brad Parrott on the race's turning point, tire issues
Editor's note: Brad Parrott, a 19-time winner in NASCAR national series competition, has joined NASCAR.com as a guest writer for the 2014 season. Here is his first-person analysis after Sunday's Food City 500 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway:
RELATED: Food City 500 results
It was a long, wet, 'It's Bristol, baby!' kind of day. But at the end, the Roush Fenway Racing cars came through with Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. having a 1-2 finish for their company. It was a big day for Ford all the way around, having four of the top five cars.
You have to give a shout-out to Aric Almirola and Marcos Ambrose both finishing in the top five. That's big for Richard Petty Motorsports, no matter what track you go to. Being at Bristol makes it extra sweet. At the end of the day, it's all about teammates working together throughout the weekend, and two sets of teammates really worked together to get the finishes they needed.
That win, though, was a credit to crew chief Jimmy Fennig for the great pit strategy call he made. He gave Carl an opportunity to stay out under a late caution and take the lead, which he never gave up. I've seen cars stay out with 120 laps on their tires at Bristol before and win the race, so having Carl stay out with 20 laps on his tires … it's not a risky call at all. Jimmy believed in his tires and believed in his driver, and it paid off for the 99 team.
Despite the weather issues and all the delays throughout the day, the teams did their jobs. All the crew chiefs came to the track at 7 o'clock in the morning to race 500 laps. They knew weather would play a part in the day's race, and all of them are just going to be glad to go home tonight and turn their day around Monday at the shop.
It's definitely a relief to all the crew chiefs to get the race in on Sunday, too. All those hard-working crew chiefs will be back in the shop at 8 a.m. on Monday and getting their cars ready to go to Fontana next week and trying to determine what happened to them at Bristol.
A lot of teams are happy. Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray ran very well for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Two cars that really I thought had a great shot were the Penske cars, but they finished 14th (Brad Keselowski) and 20th (Joey Logano). They’ll go home and say, "OK, Bristol is over. Let's go to Fontana."
A lot of teams had their Bristol issues, too, though. Bristol is very demanding on the cars, as we saw. We saw some blown tires, saw some tempers flare. It was mainly tire issues. Jimmie Johnson, and then Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 78 car had them. There were probably 10 cars that had a chance to win the race, and every one of them had issues. But that's Bristol.
Stewart-Haas Racing didn't have a great day in the standings, but one of the biggest surprises was Tony Stewart. Tony finished fourth. His teammates didn't finish as well -- Danica Patrick finished 18th, and Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch both had issues and finished outside the top 30. It's a big sigh of relief for Tony to finish in the top five. Any time you can finish in the top five in this series nowadays, you've got a chance to win a race.
At the end of the day, it's being there at the end. And the end today was the spring Bristol race ending under the lights.