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NASCAR Cup: Chase Elliott wins after JGR dominance at Nashville

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, celebrates after winning the rain and lightning delayed Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 26, 2022 (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Nearly seven hours after taking the green flag at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway on Sunday evening, Chase Elliott took the checkered flag first in the Ally 400. Elliott’s second win of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season came after two weather-related interruptions.

“Thanks to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. They have been working really hard over the winter and through the spring to keep up,” Elliott said. “The engines have been running great and, obviously, great support from Chevrolet. I look forward to getting home and seeing my family, seeing Mom and Dad and, hopefully, enjoy it this week. These things are hard to come by, and you have to enjoy them. You never know when or if ever you will get another one, so super thankful and looking forward to next week.”

Kurt Busch finished second, Ryan Blaney was third, Kyle Larson fourth, and Ross Chastain rounded out the top-five.

“I got soft on him (Elliott),” Busch said. “I should have been throwing some fenders and moving some momentum around. I didn’t stick with our strength. We didn’t have many strengths tonight. We just executed really well. The restarts were so-so, and long-run speed was good. I just needed to stick with our strength, and I messed up. I want to thank all my guys at 23XI. We have a great group of guys and girls. The way that we’re running, a second is cool, but we’re here for wins with the playoff situation. Thanks to Monster Energy, Toyota and all of our associate sponsors. This Camry and all the TRD Camrys were awesome. I just hate it when we don’t get into victory lane, and I was right there.”

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin combined to lead most of the 300-lap race before Elliott, on newer tires, got by Busch for the lead on lap 245.

Kyle Busch and Truex were among the drivers who stayed out during a caution for Blaney on lap 205. Elliott restarted 14th after the pit stop.

The strategy reversed when a 10th and final caution for Josh Bilicki’s blown engine on lap 292 resulted in a restart with four laps to go. Elliott restarted with the lead after staying out while Busch, Truex and Hamlin restarted outside the top-10 after pitting for tires.

“I was figuring that it (the final caution) was coming, but was hoping not,” Elliott said. “Ryan gave me a great shove, and I appreciate him doing me a solid, there, in getting us out front. Just so proud of our team, because we kind of had a setback, there, about halfway, and we were able to get our NAPA Chevy dialed back in and get back in the mix. It was a long day, a fun day. Thank you guys so much for hanging out. Just so proud of our team. We have had a pretty rough month, month-and-a-half, so just nice to get going back 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 (trophy).”

Hamlin made it back into the top-10 by the checkered flag to finish sixth after leading a race-high 114 laps. Kyle Busch and Truex wound up 21st and 22nd while a fourth Gibbs driver, Christopher Bell, joined Hamlin in the top-10 in the eighth position.

Kyle Busch started the race in the back of the 36-car field but took the lead from Truex on lap 194.

Kyle Busch was back up front after a cycle of green-flag pit stops began on lap 247 and was interrupted by a caution when Chris Buescher spun and lost his right-rear wheel on lap 254. But when the race restarted on lap 262, Elliott retook the lead.

Truex claimed stage wins on laps 90 and 185. He claimed his first stage win after getting past Hamlin on a lap-66 restart. The JGR duo combined to lead the entire stage after Hamlin started on the pole and led the first 65 laps. They finished the stage one-two.

Trackhouse Racing teammates Daniel Suarez and Chastain ran second and third to Hamlin early in the race, but Chastain was forced into an extra pit stop with a loose wheel during a caution that followed a red flag for lightning after lap 41. Suarez faded late in the stage and fell outside the top-10.

After the stage, Hamlin lost several positions in the pits while Joey Logano beat Truex off pit road with a two-tire stop. But when the race restarted on lap 97, Truex, on four tires, retook the lead.

The second 95-lap stage included a caution on lap 118 for light rain and another red flag for lightning on lap 140.

By the second red flag, Hamlin was back up front. After the lap-118 caution, Truex and Blaney battled for the lead, and then, the battle for the lead was between Truex and Hamlin before Hamlin took command of the lead on lap 132.

The second lightning hold turned into a rain delay. After a lengthy red flag, the race restarted with teammates Hamlin, Truex and Kyle Busch in the top-three positions.

Like before the second weather delay, Hamlin and Truex battled for the lead for several laps before Hamlin took the position. Truex, though, took his second stage-winning lead on lap 171.

After the second stage, Hamlin, again, lost several positions on pit road while teammates Truex and Kyle Busch got out of the pits in the top-two positions.

Other top-10 race finishers included Austin Cindric in seventh, Logano in ninth and Kevin Harvick in 10th.

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Posted by on June 27, 2022. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.