Elliott stole the thunder from a contingent of Toyota drivers who showed early dominance in a race that was twice delayed by lightning
Following a late yellow in Sunday’s Ally 400, Elliott remained on the track and led the race to a restart with four laps remaining at Nashville Superspeedway.
Elliott won the race by 0.551 seconds over runner-up Kurt Busch in his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Elliott survived a delayed pit stop on Lap 120 that put him 25th in the running order to win his second NASCAR Cup Series race of the season, his first at Nashville, and the 15th of his career.
“I’m so proud of our team,” Elliott said. We had a setback about halfway, but we were able to get the NAPA Chevy dialed back in and get back in the mix. It was a long day, a fun day… I’m so proud of our team. We’ve had a pretty rough month and a half. It’s just nice to get back going in the right direction.
“Getting a win is always huge. To do it in a really cool city like Nashville is even better. I’m looking forward to that guitar trophy. “
Elliott defeated three Toyota drivers, including pole sitter Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., and Kyle Busch, who led 250 of the 300 laps over the 1.33-mile concrete circuit.
It’s more correct to conclude that the Toyota drivers beat themselves by pitting during the 10th and final yellow on Lap 293, which was caused by a blown engine in Josh Bilicki’s Chevrolet.
While Kurt Busch and Eliot remained out under caution, along with eight other cars, Kyle Busch, Truex, and Hamlin all came to pit road for tires.Only Hamlin advanced during the final four laps of the race, finishing sixth behind Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, and Ross Chastain.
Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were caught in heavy traffic on the penultimate lap and finished 21st and 22nd, respectively.
Hamlin, who led a race-high 114 laps, led for the first 41 circuits before the race was stopped for one hour and 28 seconds due to lightning. Following the restart and two more cautions, Truex overtook Hamlin for the lead on Lap 66 and aided in the completion of Stage 1.
Truex, who led six times in 82 laps, also won the second stage, but Elliott’s vehicle came to life in the race’s last third. Elliott was leading Kyle Busch by one second, with Hamlin and Truex in third and fourth, when Bilicki’s engine failure brought out the last yellow with nine laps remaining.
Kurt Busch’s main regret in finishing second was not being more aggressive on the last restart.
“I wanted to throw some fenders, but I didn’t get the job done,” said the driver of the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota.”Everybody will be smiling, but I let them down. I should have come up with a better plan.
“We were going to stay out no matter what, and I needed to start throwing fenders to move people around. I didn’t get after it, and I made too many mistakes and didn’t stick with our strength. I’m not going to say what our strength was, but we did a lot of good things.
“We didn’t have one exceptional item. We’re second with our Toyota Camry. I want to do it over, but you don’t get those at this elite level, and Chase got the job done.
The second lightning delay lasted two hours, eight minutes, and 35 seconds, and it also brought rain, requiring track drying. It happened on lap 139, only 11 circuits before the halfway mark.
Austin Cindric, Christopher Bell, Joey Logano, and Kevin Harvick finished sixth through tenth. Elliott has a 30-point lead over Chastain in the series standings.
Alex Bowman’s day ended prematurely on lap 50, just after the first delay. Corey LaJoie’s No. 48 Ally Chevrolet spun into the Turn 2 SAFER barrier after making contact.
Bowman was able to flee the scene, but a flat right front tire tore away key body pieces. The team was unable to fix the car before the damaged vehicle policy’s six-minute clock ran out, adding to Bowman’s record of bad summer outcomes.
On lap 61, Chase Briscoe’s No. 14 Ford crashed sideways entering Turn 1 while dueling with Ty Dillon. Both automobiles spun against the outer retaining wall but survived.
Nashville, a 1.33-mile concrete oval in Lebanon, Tennessee, hosts its second Cup event. Hendrick Motorsports has won every race at Nashville, with Kyle Larson taking the first victory in 2021.