After a long, long Sunday (June 26) at Nashville Superspeedway that saw three separate delays for weather, it was Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott who took the checkered flag in the NASCAR Cup Series’ Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway. It was Elliott’s second win of 2022 and the 15th of his career.
When his No. 9 Chevrolet came alive when the sun went down (after multiple rain delays pushed racing later and later into the evening), Elliott spent much of the final stage battling for the lead with Kyle Busch. A very late caution for Josh Bilicki‘s engine failure and divergent tire strategies among the frontrunners meant that Elliott had to hold off the other brother, Kurt Busch, to claim the checkered flag.
Speaking to NBC Sports after the race, Elliott described an up-and-down race in Nashville: “It was a long day, a fun day. Thank you [fans] so much for hanging out. Just so proud of our team. We have had a pretty rough month and month-and-a-half, so just nice to get going in the right direction. Getting a win is always huge, but to do it in a really cool city like Nashville is even better. Looking forward to that guitar.”
On the subject of the final restart, he said: “Ryan [Blaney] gave me a great shove and I appreciate him doing me a solid there in getting us out front.” Elliott’s final margin of victory was 0.551 seconds.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 27, 2022
Runner-up Kurt Busch told Frontstretch‘s Jared Haas: “Toyota was awesome today … I just hesitated on that last restart and I did not get the job done. I had a plan and I just didn’t stick with our strength. Needed to stick with our strength … they put me in position and I feel like I let my group down.”
Polesitter Denny Hamlin was the first Toyota to take a turn up front, stretching out a lead early in stage one before the evening’s first lightning strike brought out a red flag just 41 laps in.
After the 30-minute wait was complete, Hendrick Motorsports saw a double disappointment as a broken steering rack for William Byron and a hard crash for Alex Bowman on consecutive laps took both Camaros out of the running.
The restart has not been kind to Team Hendrick.
William Byron heads to the garage and Alex Bowman spins and hits the wall hard.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) June 26, 2022
Chase Briscoe and Ty Dillon were also victims of Nashville’s turn 2, crashing after contact with Ross Chastain on lap 62 and setting up a 25-lap shootout to the end of the stage between Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.
As the lights came on, Truex seized the lead, but Hamlin ran him back down, putting his No. 11 right in the tire tracks of Truex’s No. 19 with five laps left in the stage. It took a flawless defensive drive from Truex to hold off Hamlin for his fourth stage win of 2022.
A caution for rain interrupted Truex and Ryan Blaney’s battle for the lead in stage two; after a brief delay, Denny Hamlin put them three-wide to take the top spot once again.
But another red flag for lightning, followed by a longer delay for rain, brought the action to a halt just 10 laps short of halfway.
Two hours and one network change later, the Ally 400 restarted with 150 laps to go, and Hamlin and Truex immediately resumed their dogfight. Truex once again came out on top to win stage two.
A slow stop for Hamlin after the stage promoted Kyle Busch to the front row on the restart, and the two-time champion used the position to full effect, sweeping past Truex on the bottom to take the lead. As Busch drove away from Truex, Elliott got past the No. 19 for second, and closed in on the leaders.
With 54 to go, Elliott took the lead, but immediately triggered Busch and Truex into green-flag stops.
🎶 You picked a fine time to leave me, loose wheel. 🎶
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) June 27, 2022
A caution for a loose wheel on Chris Buescher’s No. 17 shook up the field mid-pack, but it was still Busch and Elliott up front until the caution for Bilicki upended everything.
Kyle Larson ended the night in fourth, and Ross Chastain added to his top-five tally by coming home fifth. Hamlin finished best of the JGR cars in sixth, with Austin Cindric in seventh scoring back-to-back top 10s for the first time in his Cup Series career. Christopher Bell, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top 10.
The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Wisconsin’s Road America circuit next week for the Kwik Trip 250 presented by Jockey Made in America, airing 3 p.m. ET on USA.
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