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Everything That Happened in the Cup Race at Nashville

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What’s Happening?

Folks, we’re back in Music City for some NASCAR Cup Series action! The stars of the sport traveled to Nashville Superspeedway for the fourth running of the Ally 400. With temperatures at nearly 100 degrees, drivers would be challenged by both a slick race track and brutal in-car temperatures. With eight races to go until the playoffs, who rose to the occasion, and who wasted a prime opportunity? Let’s find out everything that happened in Nashville, Tenn.

  • Concrete master Denny Hamlin won the pole over last week’s winner Christopher Bell. A JGR front row lockout while 2021 race winner Kyle Larson started fourth. Hamlin won at Bristol and Dover earlier this year, both concrete race tracks.
  • Bell picked up right where he left off following his Loudon win. The driver of the No. 20 took the lead early and minus green flag pit stops never relinquished it to capture the stage win over his teammate. Bell went on to win Stage 2, but slammed the wall in Stage 3 after leading 132 laps on the day.
  • For the second-straight week, the Cup Series was plagued with a rain delay in the middle of Stage 2. Despite not having wet-weather tires, the track drying was quick process, as the race resumed around two hours after the red flag came out.

Bell and Denny Duel in Stage 1

Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell started on the front row and quickly pulled away from the rest of the field. On lap 18, Justin Haley raced Hamlin hard to stay on the lead lap, allowing Bell to pass his teammate on the high side for the lead. The two would stay nose to tail all stage long as they battled for the top spot.

During green-flag pit stops, multiple strategies were employed by the teams. Hamlin and Bell pitted around halfway through the stage, while drivers like Joey Logano and Michael McDowell chose to go the whole fuel run to get better track position at the end. Bell stayed ahead of Hamlin after pit stops, and despite Hamlin staying less than a second behind, he couldn’t get around his teammate, who captured his eighth stage win of the season.

Stage 2 Spins

Stage 2 was home to the first caution for cause when John Hunter Nemecheck spun coming off of turn four. The Legacy Motor Club driver sustained damage to his right front fender following the spin, putting him behind the eight-ball early.

Shortly after JHN’s spin, Ty Gibbs followed suit with his own spin down the grass to bring out the third caution of the day. The replay shows him racing with Alex Bowman before going around on the frontstretch. Gibbs received minimal damage and continued on.

Mother Nature Strikes at Nashville

For the third consecutive week, rain was on the cards for the NASCAR Cup Series. After New Hampshire went through a rain delay, Nashville suffered the same fate shortly after the Ty Gibbs spin. At 5:16 p.m. ET, the cars were brought down pit road after lightning was reported in the area.

Nashville Superspeedway does not have wet-weather tires, so the track had to be completely dry before they got back to racing. The rain quickly arrived and left just as fast, allowing NASCAR to get a quick track dry in. Finally, after a red flag less than one-and-a-half hours in length, the red flag was lifted on lap 137, with 48 laps remaining in Stage 2. The race would be moved from NBC to USA Network after 7:30 p.m. ET due to the TV window running out from the red flag.

During the red flag, Austin Cindric was hit with a penalty for not following red flag procedures. A rather obscure penalty, the team had a fan pointed in the direction of the No. 2, which NASCAR believed could have been close enough to cool the car. Cindric resumed the race at the tail end of the field.

Bell Sweeps the Stages at Nashville

After Denny Hamlin ran into alternator issues, there was almost no one to challenge the No. 20 for the remainder of the stage. Tyler Reddick kept pace with Bell for a few laps, but fell behind as the run went on. Bell opened his lead to over two seconds over the No. 45 with Larson running in third.

With less than five laps to go, Bell caught Austin Dillon to put him a lap down. The No. 3 put up a hard fight to stay on the lead lap, racing the No. 20 side-by-side for the final four laps. This allowed Reddick to close in less than one second behind Bell, with an outside shot of taking the stage win. Bell would hold off Reddick and Dillon to sweep the stages for the fourth time in his career.

Kyle Larson got by Denny Hamlin at the end of Stage 2 to take third place. Hamlin did not appreciate the move and nearly retaliated on the No. 5 under the caution. Crew chief Chris Gabehart had to calm Hamlin down, reminding him there was still a race to win. Despite being friends off the track, the two continue to clash race after race, and this came after Hamlin got into Larson last week at Loudon.

Cautions Breed Cautions

Riley Herbst was side-by-side with Corey Lajoie going into Turn 1 in Stage 3. Herbst got ahead of Lajoie on the high side, but the No. 7 clipped the left rear of the No. 15 to send him to the outside wall off of Turn 2 and bring out the caution. The damage was enough to send Herbst to the garage and out of the race.

Just as the field took the green flag, Erik Jones went straight up the race track and hit the outside wall on the restart to bring out yet another caution. Jones seemed to have a tire failure that caused him to crash into the Turn 2 wall and go two laps down following the wreck.

If you’re a race fan, you’ve heard the saying, “Cautions breed cautions.” This couldn’t be more accurate, as when the field came around following the restart, Chase Elliott spun in the infield grass to bring out another caution. Chase told his team his car just got away from him, but he received no noticeable damage following the spin. Elliott has not finished outside the top 20 this year, though the spin did not help his chances of extending his streak.

Trouble for Christopher Bell in Stage 3

The ninth caution of the day would make the race wide open. After dominating all afternoon, Christopher Bell got lose racing around traffic to spin and hit the outside wall. Bell broke a toe-link and lost power in his race car, forcing him to retire from the race. A heartbreaking result for the best car in the race, leading 132 laps, with only a 36th place finish to show for it. The team tried to log laps but eventually pulled into the garage and were out of the race.

Trouble for Keselowski and Burton

Brad Keselowski was racing Austin Dillon going into Turn 1, but came down on the No. 3 an inch too soon, causing him to spin off and hit the outside wall. This would bring out the caution for the 10th time with 57 laps to go in the race and Keselowski would not get the finish he deserved after running top-five most of the day.

During the caution, Carson Hocevar was seen getting into the back of Harrison Burton and spinning him out down the backstretch. Hocevar claimed that Burton brake checked him under yellow, but the replay looks as if the No. 77 just hit the No. 21. NASCAR tends to frown spinning or wrecking drivers under yellow so it will be interesting to see if they address this come the week’s penalty report.

Hamlin Cruises to Nashville Win, Until…

With fresh tires and a bad fast Toyota, Hamlin began his journey back to the front of the field. He quickly worked his way into the top-five and found himself in second place, two seconds behind Ross Chastain with less than 30 laps to go. With 20 to go, the gap was less than one second between the two. These two drivers have an extensive history, so the battle was sure to be spectacular.

With 11 laps to go, Hamlin tried to work around the high side but Chastain’s block on the No. 11 forced him to check up. Hamlin’s four tires were clearly an advantage, but Chastain’s defensive driving held him up all the way until seven laps to go, when the No. 1 got loose in Turn 1, giving Hamlin the lead. Hamlin looked to cruise to his fourth win of the season, Austin Cindric said “This race isn’t over yet,” after he spun to bring out the 11th caution of the race.

Overtime in Nashville

Overtime in Nashville part one. Ross Chastain nearly matched Hamlin going into Turn 1, but Larson, pushing the No. 11, clipped the apron and hit the No. 1 Camaro. Chastain was sent spinning into the outside wall, which collected Ty Gibbs and a slew of other drivers. Chastain would retire from the race.

The caution caused many discussions on fuel. Hamlin, Larson, and Truex all were right on the window and every overtime lap put their fuel in more concern. Meanwhile, the Spire duo of LaJoie and Hocevar could make it those extra laps. The leaders needed a quick two laps of overtime to make it to the end.

The race would go into triple overtime after a massive crash down the backstretch. Multiple drivers were involved, including Josh Berry, Todd Gilliland, Corey Heim, and more. This put the top seven in more of a fuel crunch, as they were about to go 100 laps since their last pit stop. LaJoie stayed in the top 10, but Bubba Wallace pitted 15 laps prior, with the best fuel advantage of anyone in the top 10.

A slow Larson off the restart forced a stack up that caused Kyle Busch to spin on the frontstrech. Despite the stack up, Busch was the only driver to spin and visibly showed his frustration when he got out of the race car. A tough streak for Busch continued with a DNF at Nashville, putting him in a bigger hole to make the playoffs.

Truex and Hamlin chose to hit pit road to ensure that they could make it to the end. Meanwhile, Logano and Chase Briscoe stayed out with the Spire duo of LaJoie and now Zane Smith right behind them with plenty of fuel to make it. A fourth overtime was coming.

Just as Logano was about to take the white flag, Josh Berry spun to bring out the fifth overtime caution of the race. Surprisingly, Logano and Briscoe kept going despite their low fuel numbers. Smith was still in the best position in third, but Ryan Preece among others entered the equation with even better fuel positions.

Joey Logano Steal Nashville

Joey Logano, who last pitted 103 laps before the final overtime, managed to do something even this writer is wondering how he did it: stretch the fuel. The two-time champion got a great restart, and despite a hard charge from Tyler Reddick at the end, he played the fuel game to perfection and won the Ally 400. Logano won for the first time since the spring Atlanta race in 2023, locking all three Penske drivers into the playoffs.


That does it for our coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway? What do you think DailyDownforce readers? Was this the best race of the year? Was there too much chaos for your liking? Let us know all your thoughts and concerns by commenting on all our social media platforms. Be sure to stay up to date with for all the latest news, fan discussions and more going on in the world of NASCAR!

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