Clean air and patience were the name of the game at Nashville on Sunday and Chase Elliott was both. For fans, patience was tried as the race was delayed for weather twice for lightning and rain with the second delay lasting over 2 hours. If you were able to stay awake, kudos to you.
The Toyotas looked strong all night with Martin Truex, Jr. winning Stage 1 and 2. Denny Hamlin was the pole sitter leading 114 laps while Toyotas combined to lead 250 of the 300 lap event.
The turning point of the race was when many of the leading Toyotas pitted on lap 293 for tires and Chase Elliott stayed on track. I was a bit foggy at that point of the night but pitting with 7 laps left? What?? Cars in traffic had a hard time passing so this was more than a bit of a head shaker to me. The only Toyota that remained on track with Elliott was Kurt Busch who was having an OK but not stellar night.
The final restart wasn’t even close as Elliott pulled away from the elder Busch brother. Kurt later lamented not “throwing fenders” but the fact is Elliott was stronger and as the leader, had the advantage in clean air.
The final leaderboard is a bit misleading because of the late pit stop many drivers took. But they pay points for how you finished, not how you ran. OK, well, aside from Stage and Playoff points. Truex won there but I think he’d rather have the race win.
Good on ya, mate
- Chase Elliott (P1) for his second win of the season.
- Kurt Busch (P2) for a hard fought second place.
- Ryan Blaney (P3) for coming back from a pit road mistake.
- Kyle Larson (P4) wasn’t as good as he needed to be to back up his 2021 win.
- Ross Chastain (P5) may not be making many friends but he is fun to watch.
- Denny Hamlin (P6) should never have pitted late.
- Austin Cindric (P7) finished better than he was running.
- Christopher Bell (P8) was not the 2nd best Toyota but finished that way.
- Joey Logano (P9) made the most of the final restart.
- Kevin Harvick (P10) was better than the finish shows.
- Bubba Wallace (P12) had a better race going so making the Top 15 was an effort.
- Michael McDowell (P13) was running in the Top 10 for much of the early part of the race.
- Daniel Suarez (P15) was fast early on but traffic was not his friend.
So you had a bad day
- Martin Truex, Jr. (P22) led a lot, won both Stages 1 & 2 then pitted late when he should have stayed out.
- Kyle Busch (P21) was, well, read Martin Truex.
- Alex Bowman (P36) had his night end after a brush up with Corey Lajoie.
- William Byron (P35) had an issue before the first delay then had it break.
- Brad Keselowski (P29) had a Top 20 going, but never was able to make anything happen.
Next up, Road America
In only the 2nd trip back to Road America, Chase Elliott will look to go back to back wins and defend his inaugural win. He hasn’t been as dominant on road courses this season but all it takes is one race to get your mojo back. William Byron was the polesitter last year but didn’t finish well after leading 15 laps. I look for Ross Chastain, Tyler Reddick and AJ Allmendinger to do well. AJ started third last year but needs a better finish. Maybe the Nashville race gave him some seat time confidence.
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