Chase Elliott upends Toyota dominance at Nashville

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Despite the late caution, Chase Elliott made the winning move 38 laps earlier.

On the penultimate restart of Sunday’s Ally 400 on Lap 263, Elliott edged out Kyle Busch at the line to take the race lead, and didn’t relinquish it, as he drove on to victory at Nashville Superspeedway.

“We were able to work on (the car) a little bit after the penalty (sic) and got it going a little better,” he said, referencing the rain delays. “My team just stuck with it.”

It’s his 15th career victory in 238 NASCAR Cup Series starts and second win of the 2022 season.

“We’ve had a pretty rough month, month and a half. So just nice to get back going the right direction,” he said. “Getting a win is always huge. To do it in a really cool city like Nashville is even better. Looking forward to that guitar. Thank you guys for coming out.”

The top-10 finishers

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While caught out by the penultimate caution, Kurt Busch finished the night in second and Ryan Blaney rounded out the podium.

Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain rounded out the top-five.

Denny Hamlin, Austin Cindric, Christopher Bell, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-10.

Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., who led a combined 136 of 300 laps, dropped on the final restart and finished 21st and 22nd, respectively.

Chase Elliott upends Toyota dominance at Nashville

Race summary

LEBANON, Tenn. – JUNE 26: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 26, 2022, in Lebanon, Tennessee. Photo: Logan Riely/Getty Images

Hamlin led the field to green at 5:10 p.m. He led the first 66 laps, before Truex powered by him up high in Turn 2 to take the lead on the Lap 66 restart. Unlike the start, Truex didn’t pull away from the field. Within about 10 laps, Hamlin reeled in Truex, but couldn’t overtake him before the end of Stage 1, which Truex won.

Logano exited pit road with the race lead and led the field back to green on Lap 97. His two tires, however, were no match for Truex. Who powered by him down the backstretch to retake the lead on Lap 98.

Rain put the race under caution on Lap 118.

Back to green on Lap 125, Blaney edged Truex at the line to take the lead. The following lap, Truex edged him at the line. On Lap 128, Blaney gets loose in Turn 2 and forces Truex up the track. Which allowed Hamlin to overtake them both and retake the lead. For the next three laps, Truex and Hamlin raced side-by-side, before Hamlin powered ahead on Lap 132.

Let there be light

LEBANON, Tenn. – JUNE 26: Cars site covered on the grid during a weather delay in the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 26, 2022, in Lebanon, Tennessee. Photo: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Rain and lightning returned on Lap 139 and forced another red flag. After three hours, nine minutes and two seconds, the field pulled back onto the track and went back to green on Lap 151, making this an official race.

Picking up where they left off over three hours earlier, Truex edged Hamlin at the line to lead Lap 152. One lap later, Hamlin returned the favor and pulled away from him. A few laps later, however, Truex reeled him in and powered by him on the outside in Turn 2 to retake the lead on Lap 172.

While he didn’t pull away from Hamlin, he held him off long enough to win the second stage.

Back to green on Lap 193, Kyle Busch cleared Truex exiting Turn 4 to take the lead on Lap 195. Elliott ran down and overtook Busch in Turn 3 to take the lead on Lap 246. He made his final stop of the race on Lap 248. Hamlin followed suit on Lap 254, just as Chris Buescher hit the wall in Turn 4 and lost his right-rear wheel and brought out a caution on Lap 255.

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Kurt Busch, who inherited the lead at the caution, made his stop under the caution and brother Kyle Busch cycled back to the head. Elliott, however, edged him at the line to retake the lead on Lap 263. Realistically, he was going to run away with the victory, barring a late caution.

Josh Bilicki’s engine brought out that late caution with nine laps to go, much to Elliott’s chagrin.

“Ryan (Blaney) gave me a great shove (on the last restart) and I appreciate him doing me a solid there in getting us out front,” he said.

Chase Elliott upends Toyota dominance at Nashville

What else happened

Bilicki brought out the first caution on Lap 41, when he dropped debris on the track. Then lightning forced a red flag that lasted one hour and 27 seconds.

Corey LaJoie turned Alex Bowman in Turn 1 on Lap 50.

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Chase Briscoe got loose in Turn 2, hit Ty Dillon and sent both of them spinning on Lap 61.

During the Lap 118 caution for rain, Bubba Wallace stopped on the warm up lane for a loose wheel, then Tyler Reddick rear-ended him.

He let his crew have it.

The Lap 139 caution put him back on the lead lap, however.

Blaney got loose and spun off Turn 4 on Lap 205.

Playoff picture

With nine races left to run in the regular season, Harvick leapfrogged Almirola for the final playoff spot and leaves Nashville with a nine-point cushion.

Chase Elliott upends Toyota dominance at Nashville

Nuts and bolts

LEBANON, Tenn. – JUNE 26: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 26, 2022, in Lebanon, Tennessee. Photo: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

The race lasted three hours, 35 minutes and 15 seconds, at an average speed of 111.22 mph. There were 18 lead changes among seven different drivers and 10 cautions for 57 laps. Moreover, there were two red flags for weather that lasted one hour and 27 seconds and three hours, nine minutes and two seconds.

Elliott leaves Nashville with a 30-point lead over Chastain.

TOP IMAGE: Logan Riely/Getty Images