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Martin Truex Jr. wins Stage 2 of Food City 500; Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s day ends early with wreck

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Martin Truex Jr. won Stage 2 of Monday’s rain-rescheduled Food City 500.

Truex overtook Stage 1 winner Kyle Larson on Lap 203 and remained in command through Lap 250, the end of Stage 2.

Joey Logano was second, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Erik Jones, Larson, Denny Hamlin, Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Larson won the first stage, leading all 125 laps, and the first 78 laps of Stage 2 before yielding the race lead to Truex Jr., who finished second in Stage 1.

Larson nearly spun in Turn 2 on Lap 192, losing time in the process that would eventually allow Truex to be able to catch and ultimately pass him.

There were several incidents during the 125-lap Stage 2:

* On Lap 210, Kyle Busch blew a tire in Turn 2 and hit the wall, suffering moderate damage to the right front fender.

* Ryan Blaney took his Wood Brothers Racing Ford Fusion to the garage for a mechanical issue.

* On Lap 217, Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit the wall, suffering a broken oil cooler in the process, bringing his day to an early finish.

“It got oil all over the engine compartment and then the car went straight into the wall,” Earnhardt told Fox Sports.

Earnhardt was sent to the infield medical center to be checked out from the impact, but told Fox “I feel good.”

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Kyle Larson leads all 125 laps to win Stage 1 of Food City 500 at Bristol

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Kyle Larson has gone through the opening segment of Monday’s weather-rescheduled Food City 500 like a dog with a bone: he refused to give up the lead throughout the entire 125 laps of Stage 1.

Larson started from the pole after Friday’s qualifying was rained out. Larson was awarded the pole because he’s the current leader in the NASCAR Cup standings.

The rest of the top-10 in Stage 1 were Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, AJ Allmendinger and Kyle Busch.

The only significant incident of the opening stage occurred on Lap 54. Kurt Busch spun on the backstretch and hit the inside wall nose-first. As cars slowed to avoid Busch as he came up the track, Chris Buescher ran into the back of Reed Sorenson.

Busch was able to get the damage repaired on his car, but Buescher suffered significant damage to his front end to bring an early close to his race.

The race was red-flagged for five minutes, 10 seconds as safety crews had to clean up a significant amount of oil and fluids from Buescher’s car.

While there was concern early that weather may impact the race, the latest weather radar shows most rain has dissipated and the race should be able to continue to its full scheduled 500 laps.

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Here are the songs drivers picked for intros at Bristol

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Driver intos at Bristol Motor Speedway often are among the most anticipated all year because drivers get to pick the song to be played for their introduction.

Here is the list of songs drivers selected for today’s driver intros.

(List is based on starting lineup with pole-sitter Kyle Larson listed first)

Kyle Larson                “Hypnotize”                             Notorious B.I.G.

Chase Elliott               “Record Year”                         Eric Church

Martin Truex Jr.          “Flatliner”                                 Cole Swindell ft. Dierks Bentley

Brad Keselowski         “Where Are We Runnin”         Lenny Kravitz

Joey Logano               “Let Me Clear My Throat”       DJ Kool

Ryan Blaney               “Living the Dream”                  Sturgill Simpson

Kyle Busch                 “The Way I Am”                      Eminem

Jamie McMurray         “Thunderstruck”                      AC DC

Clint Bowyer                “How Country Feels”              Randy Houser

Kevin Harvick              “Tip It On Back”                      Dierks Bentley

Jimmie Johnson          “California Love”                     2 Pac

Trevor Bayne               “Run Devil Run”                     Crowder

Ryan Newman             “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day”          Luke Bryan

Erik Jones                   “Takin’ Care of Business”       Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Kurt Busch                   “Walk This Way”                     Aerosmith

Denny Hamlin               “Jump Man”                            Drake & Future

Kasey Kahne                “Somebody Else Will”             Justin Moore

Aric Almirola                 “Hard Workin’ Man”                Brooks & Dunn

Dale Earnhardt Jr.         “Miles Apart”                           The Dangerous Summery

Austin Dillon                  “Ain’t No Mercy                       Rick Ross

Matt Kenseth                “The Shortest Straw”              Metallica

Daniel Suarez               “El Mariachi Loco”

Ty Dillon                        “No Problem”                          Chance the Rapper

AJ Allmendinger            “My Name is Human”             Highly Suspect

Paul Menard                  “Rockin’ in the Free World”     Neil Young

Chris Buescher              “Heavy is the Head”                Zac Brown Band

Michael McDowell          “Nothing I Can’t Do”                Tedashii feat. Lecrae

Danica Patrick                “Fight Song”                            Rachel Platten

Landon Cassill                “Electric Body”                                    A$AP Rocky

Cole Whitt                       “Believer”                                Imagine Dragons

Matt DiBenedetto            “Dream On”                            Aerosmith

David Ragan                   “Pickup Man”                          Joe Diffie

Corey LaJoie                   “Gimme Some Lovin’”          The Spencer Davis Group

Gray Gaulding                 “JuJu on That Beat”                Zay Hilfigerrr & Zayion McCall

Jeffrey Earnhardt             “Seal the Deal”                        Volbeat

Timmy Hill                        “My House”                             Flo Rida

Derrike Cope                    “Jungle”                                 X Ambassadors

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NASCAR Stock Market: Who’s up and who’s down from last year

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No Cup driver has had a better turnaround in the last year than Clint Bowyer.

The Stewart-Haas racer is one of five who are 10 or more spots better in the points than they were a year ago. Bowyer, who is ninth in the standings, is 23 spots better than he was at this time last year.

The change is not a surprise. Bowyer was with HScott Motorsports, which ceased operations after last year, and now is with one of the sport’s elite teams.

“There is nothing in this sport at this level that comes easy,’’ Bowyer said earlier this month at Texas Motor Speedway. “It doesn’t matter the racetrack or circumstances, it is always hard because there is always the next guy working every bit as hard to accomplish the same goal. That being said, I knew it would be a positive move.’’

Bowyer has two top-10 finishes, which is one shy his total last season. He also has five top-15 finishes in the first seven Cup races of the season.

On the opposite side, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 20th in points, 14 spots worse than he was at this time a year ago. He is coming off a season-best fifth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway.

Earnhardt’s challenge, in part, has been coming back after missing the last 18 races of last season because of issues related to a concussion.

“I figured we would get one sooner or later, but it’s nice,’’ he said after the Texas race. “I know our fans are really pulling for us. 

Here’s a look at the drivers who have gained the most spots in the points since this time a year ago and the drivers who have fallen the most in the same time.

MOST POSITIONS GAINED

23 — Clint Bowyer (9th in standings this year)

17 — Kyle Larson (1st)

14 — Ryan Blaney (6th)

12 — Chase Elliott (2nd)

11 — Trevor Bayne (12th)

9 — Chris Buescher (27th)

8 — Martin Truex Jr. (3rd)

6 — Ryan Newman (13th)

6 — Cole Whitt (31st)

5 — Brad Keselowski (4th)

5 — Jamie McMurray (8th)

5 — Michael McDowell (28th)

MOST POSITIONS LOST

14 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (20th in standings this year)

11 — Austin Dillon (21st)

10 — Matt Kenseth (22nd)

10 — AJ Allmendinger (25th)

9 — Jimmie Johnson (11th)

8 — Kurt Busch (15th)

8 — Denny Hamlin (16th)

7 — Kevin Harvick (10th)

6 — Kyle Busch (7th)

5 — Paul Menard (26th)

5 — Danica Patrick (29th)

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NASCAR America: Jamie McMurray’s crew chief on impressive start, pit strategy

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In an interview with NASCAR America’s Dave Burns, the crew chief for Jamie McMurray said his team maybe chose the wrong pit strategy near the end of Stage 2 last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

McMurray and the leaders stayed out as the rest of the field pit during a late caution. Those who stayed out pitted during the segment break a few laps later, sending them back in the pack.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have gone after the stage points there in the second stage,” Matt McCall said. “When you see the whole field peel off behind you, ‘Eh, we’ll be starting 20th or worse now.’ That’s the chance you have to take though, You don’t know when those cautions are going to come out. It’s obviously pretty different when the tire wear is minimal.”

McMurray ultimately finished seventh in the race for his fourth top 10 of the season. He enters the Easter break eighth in the point standings.

Watch the full video to see McCall and Burns discuss Chip Ganassi Racing’s overall improvement after seven races.