Big Nashville Stars Watch Big NASCAR Star Get A Win

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, June 27 2022

Driver Chase Elliott poses with Hendersonville, Tenn. resident Lindsey Stuffle after Sunday’s Cup race at Nashville Superspeedway. (RacinToday photo by Jeff Hood)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

LEBANON, Tenn. – Celebrities of acting, music and sports were out in full force at Nashville Superspeedway on Sunday.

So, it was only fitting that NASCAR’s biggest star wound up strumming the winner’s Les Paul guitar in victory lane in the rain-delayed Ally 400.

In just its second year hosting NASCAR’s Cup Series at the concrete speedway located about 30 miles east of downtown Nashville, fans were able to rub shoulders and snap selfies on pit road during pre-race with the likes of past and current NBA and NFL players, music recording artists and Sheamus, one of the WWE’s top wrestlers.

The grandstands were nearly filled to capacity when the green flag dropped a few minutes after 4 p.m. local time. Following a pair of lightning and rain delays, the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was the first to streak past the finish line on the final lap in a race that concluded deep in the Tennessee night.

The fact that many of the fans stuck around until the conclusion didn’t go unnoticed by NASCAR’s championship points leader.

“Nashville is a cool town,” said Elliott, whose other win this year also came on a concrete surface in Dover, Delaware. “It’s a great place to race. This is a town that embraces us and we embrace the people here.

“Heck, the crowd was still pretty good, I thought, for it to be 11 o’clock at night after having this thing start seven hours ago.”

After hanging around the Top 10 during the first third of the race run in sweltering heat while Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. took turns pacing the field, Elliott’s NAPA Auto Parts Camaro came to life once the track cooled and the lights came on.

He and crew chief Alan Gustafson used the two weather delays to strategize on adjustments that would propel them from an also-ran to a contender. Their brainstorming paid off and enabled NASCAR’s Most Popular driver to surge into the lead with 38 laps remaining and go on to capture his 15th career victory.

The Dawsonville, Ga. native had built a substantial lead with nine laps remaining when the caution flag waved for a blown engine.

Gustafson never flinched by telling Elliott to stay on the track instead of pitting for four new tires.

“It was a no brainer,” Gustafson said. “We had the fastest car and I knew there would only be a few laps remaining when we went back to green.”

As Elliott passed the pit road commitment line, the majority of his competition pitted behind him for fresh rubber. However, five cars just outside of the top ten opted for track position and remained on the speedway to line up behind Elliott on the race’s final restart.

The scenario provided the 2020 Cup champion all the cushion needed, as he pulled away from Kurt Busch and watched in his rear view mirror as cars on new rubber struggled to pass drivers racing on worn out tires.

Busch held on to finish second, as he fended off Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain. Kyle Busch, the first car off pit road on new tires during the final caution, wound up tagging the wall on the final lap and finished a disappointing 21st after leading 54 laps during the 300 lap event.

The oddest moment of the race occurred when Bubba Wallace entered pit road while running sixth only to find himself a lap down moments later after he had to pit a second time due to a loose lug nut. A seething Wallace radioed to crew chief “Bootie” Barker that he didn’t want to speak with him or his crew for the remainder of the race.

Wallace managed to rally and finish 12th.

Following the race, Elliott, who at one point in his career was the main threat to win on road courses, was peppered with questions about his sudden dominance on concrete surfaces and whether it has anything to do with the seventh generation NASCAR car design.

“To be honest with you, I don’t know that it has anything to do with this Next-Gen thing,” Elliott said. “I feel like we’ve had good runs in the past at both Bristol and Dover but not necessarily here.

“But look, you get the right day, the right circumstance and the right car balance and everything goes your way, I feel like our team has a shot. Fortunately, today was that way for us and we were able to get it done.”


NASCAR Cup Series Race – 2nd Annual Ally 400

Nashville Superspeedway

Nashville, Tennessee

Sunday, June 26, 2022

  1. (4)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 300.
  2. (19)  Kurt Busch, Toyota, 300.
  3. (6)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 300.
  4. (3)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 300.
  5. (7)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 300.
  6. (1)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 300.
  7. (24)  Austin Cindric #, Ford, 300.
  8. (9)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 300.
  9. (2)  Joey Logano, Ford, 300.
  10. (8)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 300.
  11. (23)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 300.
  12. (30)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 300.
  13. (18)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 300.
  14. (20)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 300.
  15. (5)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 300.
  16. (25)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 300.
  17. (11)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 300.
  18. (16)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 300.
  19. (14)  AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 300.
  20. (22)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 300.
  21. (36)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 300.
  22. (10)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 300.
  23. (21)  Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 300.
  24. (33)  Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 300.
  25. (26)  Harrison Burton #, Ford, 300.
  26. (17)  Cole Custer, Ford, 300.
  27. (31)  Cody Ware, Ford, 298.
  28. (32)  JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 298.
  29. (27)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 298.
  30. (15)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 297.
  31. (29)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 297.
  32. (35)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 295.
  33. (34)  Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, Engine, 285.
  34. (28)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 269.
  35. (13)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 262.
  36. (12)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, DVP, 49.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  111.22 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 35 Mins, 15 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .551 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  10 for 57 laps.

Lead Changes:  18 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   D. Hamlin 1-65;M. Truex Jr. 66-93;J. Logano 94-96;M. Truex Jr. 97-124;R. Blaney 125;M. Truex Jr. 126;D. Hamlin 127-129;M. Truex Jr. 130;D. Hamlin 131-150;M. Truex Jr. 151;D. Hamlin 152-170;M. Truex Jr. 171-193;K. Busch 194-244;C. Elliott 245-247;D. Hamlin 248-254;K. Busch 255-257;J. Logano 258;K. Busch 259-261;C. Elliott 262-300.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Denny Hamlin 5 times for 114 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 6 times for 82 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 54 laps; Chase Elliott 2 times for 42 laps; Joey Logano 2 times for 4 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 3 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,11,12,20,4,5,23,9,18,45

Stage #2 Top Ten: 19,11,18,9,45,5,1,4,12,34


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, June 27 2022
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