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Lap-by-Lap: Bristol

March 18, 2012, ,

Lap 500 -- CHECKERED FLAG: Brad Keselowski hangs on to score the win by 7/10ths of a second over Matt Kenseth. Before his burnouts, a crew member gives Keseloswki an American flag to wave from his window.

Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers finish third through fifth. Welcome back, Brian!

Lap 499 -- Brad Keselowski is powering away from Matt Kenseth.

Lap 495 -- Five laps to go. Matt Kenseth has not made up any ground on leader Brad Keselowski.

Lap 493 -- From fifth-place Brian Vickers on back, there's a huge snarl of traffic fighting for position.

Lap 490 -- Ten laps to go. Matt Kenseth appears to have lost a car length or two.

Lap 486 -- It's the same story for the lead. Brad Keselowski has it, and Matt Kenseth wants it.

Lap 484 -- GREEN FLAG: Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers, Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer are the leaders on the restart. Here we go!

Keselowski clears Kenseth in Turn 3.

Lap 479 -- Clint Bowyer gives up third place to pit, but Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers and Martin Truex Jr. stay out.

Lap 478 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 6: Tony Stewart has backed the rear of his Chevrolet into the wall. With fuel an issue for some, what will the leaders do?

Lap 472 -- The margin between first and second is still constant at about 3/10ths of a second.

Lap 468 -- Martin Truex Jr. is now in fifth place. That's three Michael Waltrip Racing cars in the top five.

Lap 464 -- This is classic David Pearson ... wait a second, sorry about that ... Matt Kenseth.

Lap 459 -- Still the same story at the front, with Matt Kenseth still right behind Brad Keselowski.

Lap 455 -- Matt Kenseth uses Kurt Busch's lapped car to go to the high side of Brad Keselowski, but backs out without pushing the issue.

Lap 452 -- Leader Brad Keselowski is in some lapped traffic.

Lap 448 -- Matt Kenseth still hasn't made a serious attempt on Brad Keselowski.

Lap 444 -- Fifth-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been asked to conserve fuel. Brian Vickers should be able to make it the rest of the way.

Lap 440 -- Sixty laps to go. Matt Kenseth is all over Brad Keselowski, but it's more than four seconds back to third-place Clint Bowyer.

Lap 435 -- You just get the feeling that Matt Kenseth is biding his time, waiting, lurking. This isn't over.

Lap 429 -- The top five are Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers and Dale Earnahrdt Jr. Bowyer, Vickers and seventh-place Martin Truex Jr. are all in cars fielded by Michael Waltrip Racing.

Lap 426 -- Brad Keselowski finished third in Saturday's Nationwide Series event.

Lap 422 -- Matt Kenseth is closing back in on Brad Keselowski.

Lap 415 -- Brad Keselowski's lead over Matt Kenseth is about half a second.

Lap 411 -- Brian Vickers is trying to find an opening to get under Jeff Burton for fourth place. Nothing doing, so far.

Lap 406 -- The potential tire issue surely isn't slowing Brad Keselowski right now.

Lap 403 -- Brad Keselowski thought he might have a tire going down, but evidently just got into the marbles a little bit to pick up some debris.

Lap 400 -- With 100 laps to go, Brad Keselowski has not been able to shake Matt Kenseth.

Lap 385 -- Brad Keselowski's patience pays off and he takes the lead from Matt Kenseth. Did you ever think you'd see those words in the same sentence?

Lap 377 -- Brad Keselowski gets alongside Matt Kenseth for the lead, but can't make the move stick.

Lap 373 -- Brad Keselowski isn't letting Matt Kenseth get away from him.

Lap 371 -- GREEN FLAG: Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are the leaders.

Kenseth clears Keselowski for the lead coming off Turn 2.

Lap 365 -- A few cars are pitting.

Lap 363 -- The accident started when Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. made contact on the backstretch, and that cut Gordon's left rear tire.

Lap 359 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 5: Jeff Gordon has spun in Turn 3.

Lap 354 -- Racing at Bristol has certainly changed since the track was reconfigured. The preferred line is now up top, instead of having to rout and gouge holes for openings underneath cars.

Lap 348 -- Matt Kenseth finally clears Brad Keselowski for the lead coming off Turn 2.

Lap 346 -- GREEN FLAG: On the restart, the top five are Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon.

The lead two cars stay side by side the whole lap.

Lap 342 -- The leaders hit pit road. They should be able to make it the rest of the way without stopping.

Lap 340 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 3: David Stremme has pounded the wall.

Lap 335 -- Matt Kenseth is riding a string of five straight top-10 finishes at Bristol.

Lap 329 -- Brad Keselowski's lead over Matt Kenseth is about 4/10ths of a second.

Lap 279 -- Matt Kenseth is going to be making a move on Brad Keselowski for the lead any time now.

Lap 264 -- After the cycle of stops, the top five are Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Lap 263 -- Brian Vickers gives up the point to roll into his pit stall.

Lap 260 -- Jimmie Johnson is on pit road.

Lap 259 -- Denny Hamlin pits.

Lap 258 -- Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth drop onto pit road.

Lap 257 -- Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr. are pitting.

Lap 255 -- Matt Kenseth goes to the high side of Brad Keselowski for the lead.

Lap 253 -- Greg Biffle is pitting.

Lap 251 -- Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski go three wide with Ken Schrader's lapped car.

Lap 250 -- The race has reached the halfway point.

Lap 245 -- Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth are running virtually nose to tail.

Lap 242 -- Paul Menard is pitting.

Lap 237 -- Jeff Gordon is right on the rear deck lid of leader Brad Keselowski.

Lap 235 -- A.J. Allmendinger comes down the backstretch pit road. He's been wicked loose for several laps now.

Lap 231 -- There's something hanging from under Regan Smith's car, but NASCAR officials don't seem to be concerned about it.

Lap 228 -- Jeff Gordon slips under Brian Vickers for second place coming off Turn 4.

Lap 227 -- Jeff Gordon is on Brian Vickers' bumper for second place.

Lap 222 -- Brad Keselowski won the the night race here last year. Other than that, however, his best Bristol finish is a 13th in three other starts.

Lap 217 -- Brad Keselowski goes under Brian Vickers for the lead on the backstretch.

Lap 212 -- There are currently 21 cars on the lead lap.

Lap 207 -- Brad Keselowski is beginning to put some pressure on Brian Vickers.

Lap 203 -- Brian Vickers has led more today than in the last two years combined.

Lap 199 -- Jeff Gordon isn't far from being able to take a shot at Brad Keselowski for second place.

Lap 196 -- The leaders are trying to work through traffic, so the battle has calmed down a bit.

Lap 189 -- Brian Vickers is better coming off the turns, and Brad Keselowski appears better going in.

Lap 185 -- Watch out up front. Brad Keselowski has caught Brian Vickers, and is working him over to find an opening.

Lap 181 -- Early leader A.J. Allmendinger has developed a substantial vibration in his car.

Lap 179 -- Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are now running fourth and fifth.

Lap 175 -- Every lap, the gap varies between 8/10ths and a full second.

Lap 168 -- Brad Keselowski's charge to the front seems to have stabilized at about a second the last few laps.

Lap 163 -- Brian Vickers picked a tough track at which to make his season debut, but he seems to be doing fine so far.

Lap 155 -- Kasey Kahne, involved in the multicar crash earlier, is coming back into the race. He's not the sort to intentionally go over Regan Smith for revenge ... or doesn't seem to be, at the very least.

Lap 151 -- The margin between Brian Vickers and Brad Keselowski is still shrinking.

Lap 147 -- Brad Keselowski has chopped a little more than half a second off Brian Vicker's lead, but it still stands at about 1.5 second.

Lap 142 -- Remember ... this is Brian Vickers' first Sprint Cup start of the season! This is what you might call a decent audition.

Lap 138 -- If such a thing is possible at Bristol, Brian Vickers is checking out up front.

Lap 134 -- The battle is now for second place between Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gorrdon and A.J. Allmendinger. Keselowski comes out on top.

Lap 130 -- Brian Vickers has shot out to a lead of more than 1.6 seconds.

Lap 128 -- Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski are racing very, very hard for third place.

Lap 123 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. goes high up the track in Turn 4, but collects his car and keeps going.

Lap 122 -- GREEN FLAG: Brian Vickers, A.J. Allmendinger, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton and Brad Keselowski are the leaders.

Vickers clears for the lead coming off Turn 2.

Lap 117 -- The leaders are on pit road.

Lap 116 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 2: Blast-from-the-past Ken Schrader slaps the wall between Turns 3 and 4.

Lap 112 -- A.J. Allmendinger is closing on Brian Vickers.

Lap 109 --Brian Vickers now leads A.J. Allmendinger by about half a second.

Lap 104 -- Martin Truex Jr. gives the lapped car of David Ragan a couple of bumps, and while he's doing that, Jeff Gordon makes a move for third place.

Lap 101 -- Brian Vickers hasn't been able to shake A.J. Allmendinger.

Lap 98 -- A.J. Allmendinger finally gets past Bobby Labonte between Turns and 4.

Lap 95 -- With A.J. Allmendinger still stuck behind Bobby Labonte, Brian Vickers gets under them both to take the lead.

Lap 92 -- In traffic, Brian Vickers slides under Martin Truex Jr. in an attempt to grab the runnerup spot.

Lap 88 -- A.J. Allmendinger is having some trouble getting past Bobby Labonte to put him a lap down.

Lap 85 -- Martin Truex Jr. has taken second place back over from Brian Vickers.

Lap 82 -- The leader, A.J. Allmendinger, is still sorting his way through traffic.

Lap 77 -- A.J. Allmendinger is working through lapped traffic, which has allowed second-place Brian Vickers to erase about half a second off his deficit.

Lap 72 -- The first several cars in the running order are separated by at least a few car lengths each.

Lap 68 -- It's probably too early to start talking about finishes, but A.J. Allmendinger's previous best effort here is a 12th.

Lap 63 -- The gap between first and second has grown to 1.4 seconds.

Lap 56 -- Brian Vickers takes second place from Michael Waltrip racing teammate Martin Truex Jr.

Lap 55 -- A.J. Allmendinger has a lead over a little more than a second over Martin Truex Jr.

Lap 50 -- Brian Vickers had a nose under his teammate Martin Truex Jr., for second place, but had to back out.

Lap 49 -- Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are going after each other for fourth place.

Lap 47 -- GREEN FLAG: A.J. Allmendinger, Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Burton and Brendan Gaughan did not pit, and are the leaders on the restart.

Greg Biffle, Paul Menard and Brad Keselowski are the first of the cars that did come in, and are eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively, in the running order.

Allmendinger is easily into the lead going into Turn 1.

Lap 40 -- The pits are open. This will take the place of the scheduled competition caution. The leaders are in. A.J. Allmendinger, Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Burton and Brendan Gaughan did not pit.

Lap 37 -- Bristol may be racing the way it "oughtta be" ... but not for the drivers involved in this accident!

Lap 35 -- Listening to Kasey Kahne's Fox interview, he evidently feels blame for the accident should be split between Regan Smith and his own spotter.

Lap 33 -- The pits are still closed.

Lap 28 -- Pit road is still closed because most of the cleanup from the accident is taking place near its exit.

Lap 27 -- As he exits his car, Kyle Busch slams his fist on the roof in frustration.

Lap 24 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 1: There's a wreck involving Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick,, Marcos Ambrose, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch on the frontstretch and going into Turn 1.

Lap 23 -- Greg Biffle has a mirror full of A.J. Allmendinger.

Lap 20 -- A.J. Allmendinger is in the process of running Greg Biffle down for the top spot. He's shaved a half a second off Biffle's advantage in the last couple of laps.

Lap 18 -- Ryan Newman takes third place from Jeff Gordon.

Lap 14 -- The fight over second place has allowed Greg Biffle to open up a lead of more than 1.3 seconds.

Lap 11 -- A.J. Allmendinger takes second place from Jeff Gordon coming off Turn 2.

Lap 8 -- Jeff Gordon finally clears A.J. Allmendinger in their fight for the runnerup spot.

Lap 6 -- A.J. Allmendinger is working to take second place back from Jeff Gorrdon.

Lap 1 -- GREEN FLAG: The race goes green at 1:17 p.m. ET.

Greg Biffle is well clear of A.J. Allmendinger going into Turn 1. Jeff Gordon takes over second place.

1:11 p.m. ET -- The field is beginnging to roll off pit road. The race should go green the fourth time by the starter's stand.

1:10 p.m. ET -- The tower asks pit road inspectors if the drivers are ready to participate. Let's hope so!

1:08 p.m. ET -- A competition caution is planned for lap 50.

1:07 p.m. ET -- A large group of Food City store managers give the command to fire engines.

1:02 p.m. ET -- Two T-45s from the VT-7 Eagles squadron at Naval Air Station Meridian do the fly-over. C'mon ... somebody out there has to have some pull somewhere! Bucket list!

1:01 p.m. ET -- The McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base H4 Quartest is singing the national anthem. It's a great rendition, but one of the quickest on record.

1 p.m. ET - Mike Rife of the Vansant Church of Christ is giving the invocation.

12:59 p.m. ET -- 1st Lieutenant Trint of the Tennessee National Guard is leading the Bristol crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

12:40 p.m. ET -- The skies are still heavily overcast, but the clouds aren't leaking right now. Let's keep it that way!

12:33 p.m. ET -- Fox's pre-race show has started.. It's almost impossible to see Michael Waltrip and not think of his incredible accident during a 1990 Busch Series race here.

12:18 p.m. ET -- The pre-race concert by "American Idol" alum Kellie Pickler has been canceled due to the weather. William Hung, an infamous reject of that show -- would've went ahead with the show rain or shine. He was a gamer!

12:09 p.m. ET -- Whoops. A light rain has started to fall again at the track. C'mon, we need ol' D.W.'s vortex theory to kick in right about now.

12:04 p.m. ET -- It's not raining here at Bristol right now, so there's some confidence that we'll be get rolling on time for the scheduled 1:13 p.m. ET drop of the green flag.

7:51 a.m. ET -- It's raining right now in Bristol, with an 80 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms through 2 p.m. There's a continued chance of thunderstorms later in the afternoon.

7:45 a.m. ET -- With a lap of 125.125 mph mph during qualifying Friday, Greg Biffle is on the pole for the Food City 500. This is his first pole at Bristol, and the 10th of his career.

A.J. Allmendinger will start second, Ryan Newman third, Jeff Gordon fourth and Brad Keselowski fifth. Regan Smith, Aric Almirola, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top 10.

Timmy Hill failed to qualify for the race, and Robby Gordon withdrew.