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Battling it out at Bristol Motor Speedway
From last years fall race winner Kevin Harvick, to five-time Bristol Winner Kyle Busch, Jonathan Merryman breaks down all you need to know heading into the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway .
Bristol Motor Speedway to host more football
RELATED: Buy tickets for Bristol " See the new 'Colossus' BRISTOL , Tenn. (Jan. 28, 2015) -- The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Bristol Motor Speedway held a joint press conference on Thursday afternoon to announce they have reached an agreement to host ETSU's 2016 Southern Conference football opener at the Last Great Colosseum. The Buccaneers, who are playing a full SoCon schedule this upcoming season, will host Western Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 17. ETSU football head coach Carl Torbush and the Buccaneers know the significance of playing at Bristol Motor Speedway and are excited to be part of this historic event. "We are very excited about this opportunity to play at Bristol Motor Speedway ," said Torbush. "We are very appreciative of Jerry Caldwell and everyone at BMS in making this happen. They are great supporters and friends of our program. It has taken a lot of hard work from those at BMS, ETSU, Western Carolina and the Southern Conference in putting all this together and we are thrilled to be making this announcement. Scott Carter and our administrative staff have also put in a lot of hard work in helping making this possible. Not only will this will be a historic event for the schools, but also our fans, the conference and FCS Football. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our players, coaches, staff, university and fans." Western Carolina head coach Mark Speir grew up in NASCAR country, so he’s looking forward to renewing the rivalry with ETSU in such a storied venue such as Bristol Motor Speedway . "We are first of all very excited about the renewal of the Southern Conference football rivalry between Western Carolina and ETSU," said Speir. "We're looking forward to being the first SoCon team to welcome Buccaneer football back to the SoCon -- and to be able to do so in such a storied American sports venue like Bristol Motor Speedway is an awesome opportunity for both of our programs. Bristol is an iconic emblem in one of America's most popular sports, NASCAR. It's especially cool for me, a guy from Kannapolis, N.C., who grew up in the heart of NASCAR country and has been a fan all my life, to have our team compete on that stage in what will be transformed into college football's largest stadium. This is a great opportunity for our program and our fans." Executive Vice President and General Manager of BMS, Jerry Caldwell added, "It's exciting for us to support ETSU's return to football and offer these athletes an experience they’ll never forget. Having the Bucs at Bristol is our way of joining hands with the local community in ETSU PRIDE while generating visibility for their new football program. "Backing this game also falls in line with one of our key initiatives called; It's MY Bristol , Baby! The campaign encourages local residents and businesses to feel a sense of ownership -- a part of the family -- of this legendary Speedway . Naturally, hosting a home game for ETSU, an extended family member, just makes sense for us and will be memorable for regional football enthusiasts for years to come." ETSU Season Ticket Holders will receive a general admission ticket to the game at BMS with their season ticket package. Reserved seating upgrades and parking will be available when purchasing ETSU season tickets. If you are an ETSU season ticket holder and have questions, please call the ETSU Ticket Office at 423-439-4828. An allotment of ETSU student tickets will be available through the university at a later date. Other guests planning to attend may place a deposit through the BMS Ticket Office at 866-415-4158 or 423- BRISTOL . Early bird ticket prices are $25 for General Admission, $40 for Reserved seating and $55 for Battlefield seats on the track near the sidelines. Groups of 50 or more may call BMS about special pricing. Youth tickets for children 18 and under and students from other schools with official I.D. may purchase tickets through BMS for $15. The Buccaneers are coming off their first season since 2003, playing as a FCS Independent in 2015. Meanwhile, Western Carolina went 7-4 overall, 5-2 in SoCon play last year. ETSU and Western Carolina have played 45 times with the first game of the series being contested in 1932. For more information on Buccaneer football, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the football page.
Comcast, NASCAR join forces to build up Bristol
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Joining more than 1,500 local Comcast NBCUniversal employees and their families, friends and community partners to "make change happen" this weekend, the NASCAR industry and select NASCAR XFINITY Series™ drivers will be supporting the 16th annual Comcast Cares Day , the nation's largest single-day corporate volunteer event. These volunteers will participate in 15 different projects across the Greater Knoxville area to celebrate the day, joining more than 100,000 volunteers at nearly 1,000 projects across the country. Among the events in the area, Comcast volunteers helped assemble housing materials at a Habitat for Humanity "ReStore" Center for a local family in Johnson City on Friday. NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers who are racing in the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway joined the project to support Comcast's efforts. "The NASCAR family has been so welcoming to Comcast and programs like Comcast Cares Day that are important to us as a company, and the outpouring of support at this year’s events near Bristol Motor Speedway are no exception," explained Matt Lederer, Executive Director, Sports Brand Marketing, Comcast. "Participation from our drivers and support from NASCAR is a great addition to this project and represents the heart of everyone coming together to volunteer in the community." Comcast and NASCAR volunteers are also donating their time to support the Appalachia Service Project on Saturday, April 22, through the "Race to Build" project at Bristol Motor Speedway . Volunteers will build homes that will serve families in the Bristol area. Select NASCAR drivers and Comcast employees joined the group on Saturday morning to "wave the green flag" on the start of the project and assist volunteers in the morning in the fan midway at the track. Drivers Brennan Poole, Tyler Reddick, JJ Yeley, Garrett Smithley, Harrison Rhodes, Joey Gase, Ross Chastain, Justin Allgaier, Jordan Anderson and Quinn Houff participated in the weekend's service projects. As a part of the NASCAR Race To Green initiative, NASCAR also donated trees to be planted at the family home. "The NASCAR community is so strong and they're willing to lend a helping hand at any time," Poole said. "So for me to be a part of this, and do cool things like this thanks to Comcast’s partnership with the XFINITY Series is really special." "It's great that through XFINITY's partnership we can come out on a race day and participate in Comcast Cares Day," said Allgaier. "Being a part of the XFINITY Series allows us to be involved in so many different events and projects we wouldn't normally have the opportunity to, including what we're doing here today, helping out some local Bristol families through the Appalachia Service Project." Comcast Cares Day is more than just a day -- it's the culmination of Comcast NBCUniversal's commitment to volunteerism that began when the company was founded more than 50 years ago. From using technology to create positive change, such as wiring community centers and libraries and teaching digital literacy skills, to mentoring youth, to beautifying parks, Comcast NBCUniversal employees volunteer on this day, and throughout the year, to make a lasting impact. This year, the Company expects more than 100,000 volunteers to participate in approximately 900 projects across the country and around the world. To date, volunteers have contributed nearly 5 million volunteer hours at 7,700 projects since Comcast Cares Day began in 2001. "We are proud to team up with so many incredible organizations this year as we celebrate our 16th annual Comcast Cares Day," said Doug Guthrie, Regional Senior Vice President, Comcast. "We are thankful for the participants who are stepping up and helping to make a difference in our community." The Comcast Foundation will also provide grants to local community partner organizations across the country on behalf of everyone who volunteers on Comcast Cares Day. The grants will help Comcast’s community partners continue their mission of serving the community throughout the year. To date, the Comcast Foundation has awarded more than $20 million in grants to local non-profit organizations who have served as partners on Comcast Cares Day.
Food City, Bristol celebrate partnership milestone
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Bristol Next weekend's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (April 24, 1 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) marks the 25-year sponsorship anniversary between the grocery chain and the track. Yes, 25 years. The Silver Anniversary is a testament, of course, to a perfect pairing of brands that both receive great value from their partnership. Even now, the Food City sponsorship of Bristol Motor Speedway's spring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event is as strong as ever. It is the second-longest race entitlement in NASCAR, trailing only the Coca-Cola sponsorship of the 600-mile May race at Charlotte. Initially, it wasn't a long-term deal between the two, but after the 1992 Food City 500, officials were ready to return as soon as the next season. "We signed the (initial) agreement and we had a great first race," Steve Smith, Food City President and CEO, previously told NASCAR.com. "Alan Kulwicki actually won our first race in 1992; I remember that well. We were off and running." Smith said his company, founded by his father, Jack, became involved at the right time in the sport, when the fan base was on the upswing, TV coverage was gaining traction and sponsorship dollars were flowing. "What happened with Bristol was really indicative of what was happening with NASCAR -- it was just growing and growing," he said. "Five years later, Bruton (Smith, Speedway Motorsports Inc., founder) bought the track and things just really started to escalate here with the amenities and the things that they did for the race fans. ... Folks love coming here, they love the racing environment, and they love, I think, the southern hospitality. "We try, as a sponsor, to do a lot of things to get them in here a little bit early, whether it's Food City Race Night or other events to really make it a full week of fun for the race fan." RELATED: Learn more about the track In addition to the Monster Energy Series sponsorship, the company also sponsors the August NASCAR XFINITY Series event at Bristol . While there have been times that spending money on race entitlement rights might have been questionable, Smith said, "I don't think there's ever been a time when we really thought about dropping the race." The return for Food City, he said, comes in many forms. No. 1 is name recognition. "We're a relatively small regional company," Smith said. "But it's a sense of pride for our associates, our customers who know we sponsor racing. NASCAR fans are very loyal, they're loyal to the brands that are involved whether it's Food City or other consumer products sponsors. We think it helps us sell more products and bring more people in to our stores." In February 2014, Food City and BMS officials announced a five-year extension for the naming rights of the track's spring race. So the relationship will continue through 2019 -- at least. "At the end of the day, it's hard to put a financial statement together that proves that it's a great spend, but we've been doing good ever since we been sponsoring racing so we don't want to stop there," Smith said. -- Kenny Bruce contributed to this article &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Larson, Johnson, Busch talk Bristol's updated racing groove
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Bristol MORE: Weekend schedule " Starting lineup " Bristol photos BRISTOL , Tenn. -- It's not that Kyle Larson isn't a fan of the sticky substance put down on the racing surface at Bristol Motor Speedway . The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader understands the reasoning behind the application of an adhesive product to the lower portion of the track. But the driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing said he believes the amount placed on the concrete could create a situation that lends itself to keeping drivers racing single-file around the steeply-banked .533-mile track for Monday's Food City 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Track officials applied the adhesive in the lower sections of the turns in an attempt to create an additional racing groove and promote passing on the often treacherous track. One of a handful of Monster Energy Cup drivers who also competed in Saturday's Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 XFINITY Series race, Larson said he "tried to work the top in" during Friday’s XFINITY Series practice at BMS. "I feel like it would still be really fast up there, it's just nobody is brave enough to go up there and work in the groove," said Larson, who won the pole for Saturday's XFINITY Series race. "The VHT (substance) is wider than the width of our race cars now too, which makes it extremely easy to run around the bottom and not a lot of fun. "I don't know, maybe some guys like it, but I think, yeah it looks like old Bristol because we are all running around the bottom, but I just don't see how that is fun." For years, Bristol was known as a one-groove track where drivers were forced to bump their way past competitors as they tried to advance through the field. That often led to ill tempers and altercations but tremendous fan turnout as well. The facility boasted a string of 55-consecutive sellouts between 1982 and 2010 during a time that seating capacity grew from approximately 30,000 to nearly 160,000. Officials added progressive banking in 2007 in an effort to move away from the single-file racing for which the facility, which opened in 1961, had become known. But the change created a reverse situation -- the upper groove became the preferred line around the track, and after several races that featured few lead changes and contact, officials went back to the drawing boards In 2012, the track was altered once again when officials milled the upper groove in an effort to create more side-by-side competition. The results have been mixed, and the application of the adhesive is the latest move. Officials first applied the product prior to last year's night race at BMS. "I think it was like three or four feet wide," Larson, one of six race winners through this season's first seven races, said of the initial application. "I thought that was a good width because you could get your left sides in it and you really had to be cautious of hitting your marks every corner. "Now it's like you just fire off from the corner and it doesn't really matter where you enter as long as your right sides are in the grip you are going to rip around the corner. (It) just makes it too easy for us and I don't think that is good for racing." Kyle Busch, a winner of five Monster Energy NASCAR races and 17 overall at BMS, said the early indication Friday was that "there's a lot of bottom going on and not a whole lot of middle or top." "I'm sure Larson's thrilled and he'll have to rubber in the top himself while the rest of us are rooting and gouging for the bottom," he said. Seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson commended Bristol officials for the effort, noting that it was something that had worked in the past. "And in the Driver's Council meeting after our fall race here, we were all eager to make sure it was back down," Johnson said, "and (we) thought that it did offer more options (for passing) than without it." &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Speeding penalty foils Larson at Bristol -- but he still put on a show
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Richmond BRISTOL , Tenn. – Kyle Larson's No. 42 Chevrolet was incredibly fast on the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway during Monday's rain-delayed running of the Food City 500. Unfortunately, it was a bit too fast on pit road, too, and the misstep changed the team's pit strategy, and likely cost the Chip Ganassi Racing driver a shot a second victory through eight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races this season. Sixth in the final rundown, the 24-year-old Larson put on quite a show right up until the end of the race. "Yeah, I knew I gave the race away there," Larson, who won earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway , said of the infraction which came on Lap 422 of the 500-lap race. "I was surprised that I was able to line up with an opportunity there at the end. We lucked out taking two (tires), and then the 78 (of Martin Truex Jr.) sped and it lined us up fourth (for the final restart)." Larson, the points leader and pole winner (the latter coming when rain forced officials to cancel qualifying on Friday), dominated the opening 125-lap Stage 1 Monday, leading every lap. He was nearly as invincible in the second stage, leading 77 circuits around the .533-mile oval before finally yielding the point to Truex. Larson ran in the top five for much of the final 250-lap stage and was second when he dropped onto pit road following the race's eighth caution period. The speeding penalty sent him to the rear, but he was 12th when a final caution flag flew for an incident involving Kasey Kahne (Hendrick Motorsports) and Paul Menard (Richard Childress Racing). Larson was one of a handful of drivers able to run both the high and low lines around Bristol seemingly picking his spots and picking off cars at will. Fifth on the final restart, he quickly made his way to second and was closing on leader Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing), when Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports) and Clint Bowyer (SHR) began running down the two. "I thought maybe if I could get the top going quick and get by Kevin, I could get the win," Larson said. "But I think even if I was able to get into the lead, I don't think I would have won because Jimmie and Clint were way faster than I was. They were a straightaway ahead of us, I think, at the checkered flag." Johnson took the win, his 82nd , with Bowyer earning runner-up honors. Harvick, Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Joey Logano (Team Penske) completed the top five. "I think I speed on pit road every time I come to Bristol ," Larson said. "So I've got to clean that up." Larson has five top-five and six top-10 finishes this season. Chase Elliott (HMS) finished seventh and trails Larson by 27 points. </p>
Monster Energy Series Bristol race set for Monday
RELATED: Full starting lineup " Live weather radar BRISTOL , Tenn. -- Sunday's Food City 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway has been postponed due to rain. The race, No. 8 on the 36-race schedule for 2017, has been rescheduled for a 1 p.m. ET start Monday. FOX will provide live television coverage; radio coverage is on the Performance Racing Network (PRN) and SiriusXM NASCAR. "We are close to home so it will be fine," points leader Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing) said Sunday morning. "Our car was good in practice and I don't think the track will be too different." Larson will start from the pole position in his No. 42 Chevrolet, the result of rain canceling Friday's qualifying and the field being set per the rulebook (owner points). With one victory (at Auto Club Speedway ) and four runner-up finishes, Larson leads second-place Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports) by 17 points. " See the full lineup Rain also interrupted Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series race, creating a delay of more than 90 minutes. But when the rain moved out of the area, officials were able to quickly dry the .533-mile track, and that race was run to its scheduled distance with Erik Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing) flagged the winner. The rain continued throughout the night and through the morning, eventually forcing officials to postpone. It is the first race to be pushed to the following day due to inclement weather since last fall's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Both races at Pocono Raceway last year also were delayed from Sunday to Monday. Last year's Bristol Night Race, the most recent Monster Energy Series event at the track, was postponed from Saturday to Sunday due to wet weather as well. Because the rain will wash all the rubber build-up off the racing surface, drivers will face a "green" track on Monday when the event gets underway. NASCAR officials have already announced a Lap 60 competition caution to allow teams to check tire wear. Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Ford) said the rain "is somewhat of a blessing in disguise." " Because (track officials were) talking about laying down more VHT and they can't do it while it's wet," this year's Daytona 500 winner said. "The VHT is like a grip applicator and you have to heat it up to make it work, so in the drag racing world the guys do a burnout through it and you have that stripe that you just heat it up and that's what has to happen for us oval guys. We have to have more cars out there to heat it up, so it's going to be like ice when we first start off and then the grip will come back once we do heat it up after this rain delay." Track officials applied an adhesive compound (VHT) to the lower lanes in the turns prior to this weekend's race at the request of drivers. A similar substance was used in 2016. Matt Puccia, crew chief of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford with driver Trevor Bayne, said the rain will likely wash what remains of the compound off the racing surface and, as a result, "I think that you're going to see the top groove move up and you'll see more of the two- and three-lane racing that we've traditionally seen here." "I think there might still be a little bit of an advantage on the bottom," Puccia said, "but I definitely think the top groove will come in, which, for us, makes it a little bit more challenging because we haven't had any opportunity to run up on the top yet." Some other key story lines to consider with the rain wrecking Sunday's schedule: • Beating the Busches will be tough for competitors; and what about that pesky JGR slow start? " Read more • An updated racing groove has the track extra sticky " Read more • Two XFINITY Series drivers had an altercation that included a connected punch , and a trip to the NASCAR hauler " Read more • Kyle Busch was fast Saturday, but there were multiple spins , including one from Larson that sent his car into the wall " Read more • Larson looks like a championship contender so far, and he and teammate Jamie McMurray have Chip Ganassi Racing surging " Read more &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt
Larson, Truex Jr. claim Stages 1, 2 at Bristol
RELATED: FAQ for race format " Updated stage points STAGE 2 After placing second in Stage 1, Furniture Row Racing's Martin Truex Jr. topped Stage 2 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Monday's Food City 500. It's his series-best fifth stage win of the season. Team Penke driver Joey Logano improved his standing from Stage 1 (fourth), crossing the start/finish line in second. Points leader and pole position starter Kyle Larson, who won Stage 1 after leading every single lap, dropped off a bit. He placed seventh in Stage 2. STAGE 1 : Larson dominated the speed charts during Stage 1 at Bristol Motor Speedway , earning his second stage win of 2017. The Chip Ganassi Racing wheelman's No. 42 Chevrolet ran atop the leaderboard for all 125 circuits of the 125-lap stage. Next up was Truex Jr. in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota. Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Erik Jones notably finished third in his first start at Bristol in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The Furniture Row Racing driver won Saturday's XFINITY Series race. The top 10 finishers in both Stage 1 and Stage 2 receive race points. The race winner will receive 40 points and five playoff points at the conclusion of the Final Stage.
Clear skies, sailing for Johnson in Bristol victory
RELATED: Race results " Stage results " Full schedule for Richmond SHOP: Winner gear! MORE: Detailed race breakdown Jimmie Johnson surged to victory in the rain-delayed Food City 500 on Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway . Johnson powered the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet to his second straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season, leading 81 of the 500 laps. His 82nd win of his career was his second on the .533-mile Tennessee track. The victory moved Johnson another step up NASCAR's all-time win list, putting him one triumph behind NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough and two back from fellow inductees Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip. "That's just mind-blowing," said Johnson, who sits seventh on the all-time list. "I wouldn’t be here without Mr. Hendrick's support. Thanks to him and to Jeff Gordon for believing in me. For Hendrick Motorsports to make this job kind of a family environment for all of us to thrive in has been a perfect environment for me and (crew chief) Chad Knaus, and for the consistent group of guys behind me through all these years has led to the environment to win 82 races, or whatever it is, which is just insane. I'm truly humbled." Clint Bowyer took second place in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Ford, 1.199 seconds behind the race winner in his best finish since running second at Richmond on April 27, 2013. His late-race boost secured his second top-five finish of the season, but wasn't enough to unseat Johnson from the top spot. "It is frustrating, you could see him out there," Bowyer said, "but dammit, you'd think he'd get tired of winning all these races." Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano completed the top five. Pole-starter Kyle Larson seemed poised for a top-five finish after leading the opening 202 laps and snagging a Stage 1 win, but a pit-road speeding penalty on Lap 423 knocked him back to 17th in the running order. He rallied to a sixth-place finish and maintained his lead in the season-long standings. "Yeah, disappointed in myself," said Larson, who emerged with a 27-point lead over Chase Elliott in the standings. "I think I speed on pit road every single time I come to Bristol . So, got to clean that up." Martin Truex Jr., the Stage 2 winner and leader of 116 laps, was also bitten by a speeding penalty on pit road with 34 laps remaining. The infraction shuffled him to 15th place for the final run to the finish. He wound up eighth. "I thought I was exactly where I was the time before, so the time before must have been close," Truex said of his pit road timing. "Typically we don't get many speeding penalties for this team, but today we were just pushing the issue trying to get a win and sometimes they'll get you." RELATED: Photo gallery of at-track sights at Bristol Several other big names finished well off the pace after a variety of pitfalls. Kyle Busch, a five-time Bristol winner, rallied from a brush with the wall into the top 10, but a second hit sidelined him after 383 laps. Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran just 218 laps before his day was done, a Turn 1 wall crunch and a broken oil cooler ending his race. Brad Keselowski, a two-time winner this year, and Ryan Blaney also spent extended time behind the wall with steering issues. The event was delayed one day because of persistent rain Sunday. The series' next race is the Toyota Owners 400 (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM) at Richmond International Raceway. Contributing: NASCAR Wire Service &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Bounce in Bowyer's step with second at Bristol
RELATED: Johnson prevails at Bristol " Race results BRISTOL , Tenn. -- Clint Bowyer's career revival was in full swing here Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway , with the Stewart-Haas Racing driver finishing second in the Food City 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. It was Bowyer's best result since joining the four-car operation before the start of the 2017 season. In a race that was delayed one day by rain, Bowyer could see but could not catch eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson in the waning laps of 500-lap affair. The seven-time champion was a tick of the stopwatch ahead at the finish line, earning his 82nd career victory and further cementing his status as one of the series' greatest drivers of all time. Seventh when he brought his car to pit road for the final time during a caution on Lap 464, Bowyer restarted ninth for the final push. It wasn't long before he was battling with Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson for the lead. Then it was only Johnson out his front windshield. "It's Jimmie Johnson," Bowyer, 37, said. "You're just … you try everything you possibly can and I was starting to do some pretty desperate things with brakes and my line and stuff like that, and then you just realize -- your mindset quickly changes, and you're like, 'all right, let's put it in perspective here; we've come a long way, it was a long day, and second place is probably a good run for us, and we should be happy with that. We shouldn't hang our head about it.' " This was no finish created by smoke and mirrors -- Bowyer and the No. 14 team, led by crew chief Mike Buggarewicz, earned every position picked up on the high-banked half-mile oval. And there were plenty to be collected. Bowyer started ninth on the 39-car grid but quickly found himself the last car on the lead lap. "Way too loose," he said. "(We) just missed it." Then, after racing his way inside the top 10 and staying there, a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 326. "Mike made some great adjustments (and) the pit crew was on their game all day long … gained spots almost every time and then I lost them all back on pit road speeding," Bowyer said. "Went to the back again, and then drove back up through them." The decision to take four tires on the final stop was crucial. "I think the 48 (of Johnson) was the other one (to take four tires) and he won the race, so the right strategy was there," Bowyer said. "The team effort was there. You know, that's what a weekend is all about. It's just been this long since I've won a race and here is pretty special. It would have been pretty cool to be over there in Victory Lane." Bowyer has finished 13th or better in seven consecutive races and Monday's runner-up effort edged out a third-place run at Auto Club Speedway for "season's best" honors at this point. In 2016, driving for the now defunct HScott Motorsports, he had no top-five finishes and just three top 10s, numbers he has already exceeded. Pleased with a runner-up, but disappointed just the same. "Been that way my whole life," said Bowyer, who has eight career victories but none since 2012. "Since I was about 5 years old. "You struggle and struggle and struggle for a year and a half .. and hell, next thing you know you're being greedy about (finishing) second. "That's just the way racers are and the way it's always been. (But) having a ton of fun and working hard and seeing the results is gratifying for this race team." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;