Food City 500: NASCAR Car of Tomorrow gets first win

This is spoiler-free until after the jump.

NASCAR's coming out party for the series new racing car, the unfortunately-named "Car of Tomorrow" (what is this, a car show in 1957?) is officially over. That means that NASCAR history has been made by one of the new machines, which are identifiable by their new rear wings and front splitters. Those visual cues are part of a whole host of changes that are said to make the COT the safest stock car ever.

So, who won? Follow the jump to find out.

[Source: NASCAR]
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Since NASCAR is like the NBA in that you can get away with watching the last few minutes and still catch the most important part of the event, I was able to check in late and still see some good stuff happen. (I had it on in the background all afternoon, but wasn't actively watching.) As the race was winding down, leader Denny Hamlin (#11) was trying to hold off Kyle Busch in the #5 Impala SS, but fate intervened.

Jimmie Johnson had blown a tire and was trying to stay low so that he could limp into pit lane. His car refused to cooperate, however, and he kept drifting up, creating a bit of a traffic jam as the rest of the pack worked to get safely around him. Busch capitalized, passing Hamlin on the outside just before the caution flag game out. This was with around 16 laps to go. While under caution, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton both pitted and took on fresh tires. When the green flag came back out with 9 or 10 laps to go, they were both on fire, charging up the field, ultimately taking 2nd (Gordon) and 3rd position (Burton). There was real juice to the racing, as Burton and Gordon were battling each other very hard as they tried to catch Busch.

Then the #6 car hit the wall with 3 laps to go, bringing out the yellow once again. The race would go to overtime, with a Green - White -Checkered flag finish after the restart.

Once the #6 was cleared and the race kicked off again, Burton immediately overtook Gordon for the #2 spot and was on Kyle Bush's case. This set up a wild finish with Bristol being a short track and laps vanishing almost instantly. Coming out of the final turn, Burton and Busch were side-by-side running flat-out for the checkered flag. Busch took it by around half a car length, and I found myself thinking, "You know, maybe this NASCAR thing isn't so bad after all."

If you just watch the last 20 minutes, that is.

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