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Halfway: Carl Edwards leads at Bristol as Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffer mishaps


during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2016 in Bristol, Tennessee.

Matt Sullivan

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Carl Edwards, who started from the pole position, led at the halfway mark of Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kevn Harvick was second, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr. and rookie Ryan Blaney.

Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch rounded out the top 10 after 250 of 500 laps.

There was early trouble for many contenders – namely Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Earnhardt.

After dominating much of the race’s first half, Kenseth was leading when his No. 20 Toyota hit the turn 1 wall with an apparent right-front tire problem that caused a caution on Lap 190. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has four victories at Bristol, more than any other track on the circuit.

Logano pitted under green on Lap 113 and was forced to stop again after his team was hit with a penalty for an uncontrolled tire.

It was the second pit penalty for Team Penske. Teammate Brad Keselowski was punished for speeding on entry during a stop under yellow. It was the third speeding penalty of the season for the No. 2 Ford, which also was tagged at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speeway.

Starting fifth in search of his third consecutive Sprint Cup victory, Busch brought out a yellow flag on Lap 53 when his No. 18 Toyota’s right-front tire blew, sending the car into the Turn 2 wall.

He restarted outside the top 30, and he was involved in another caution on Lap 117 when his Camry spun after rear contact by Chris Buescher’s No. 34 Ford. Busch still fought his way into the top 10 within the next 80 laps.

Earnhardt, who had spoken confidently this week about running in top five at Bristol after finishing runner-up to Busch last week at Texas Motor Speedway, lost power in his No. 88 Chevrolet coming to the green flag. He headed into the pits as the field completed the first lap. His car’s engine reportedly came to life after his team advised him to cycle through his electronic fuel injection module, and he rejoined the race two laps down.

With the help of wavearounds, Earnhardt managed to regain the lead lap and was in the top 10 by Lap 215.

The caution flew again on Lap 148 for an apparent transmission problem for Kyle Larson, who had zoomed into the top 10 after starting 25th. Larson entered with the momentum of a third in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.