NASCAR Cup Series
Race Results: NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway
Jun 26, 2023
After recording an average finish of 20.75 over the four races heading into the NASCAR Cup Series off-week, Ross Chastain and his No. 1 Trackhouse Racing team came to life in the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway.
Chastain scored the pole for the race and led the event on five different occasions for a total of 99 laps -- which was a race-high. Over the final 34 circuits of the race, Chastain was able to hold off Martin Truex Jr., who burned his right rear tire off the car trying to run down Chastain, for the win.
After celebrating with a burnout followed by his patented watermelon smash in front of the crowd on the front stretch, an emotional Chastain says the win signals that despite criticisms earlier in the season, his team never doubted him and he's back in victory lane.
"This is incredible. This is why every little kid out there, anywhere in the world, when you get criticized -- and you're going to if you're competitive -- they will try to tear you down, you'll start believing them," Chastain stated. "You can't do it. You have to go to your people. Trust in the process, read your books, trust the big man's plan upstairs, and just keep getting up and going to work.
"A lot of self-reflection through all of this, but I had a group that believed in me, and they didn't let me get down. They bring rocket ships, and I just try to point them to victory lane."
The win, which marks the first victory of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season for Chastain, comes a month and a half after the driver received major criticism from competitors and even Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick for his aggressive driving style, which had led to many of Hendrick's drivers being knocked out of races early in the season.
"Look, it's a Cup win," Chastain exclaimed. "I don't care what happened the last month, or the rest of my life. It's a freaking Cup win!"
After his post-race interview with NBC on the front stretch of Nashville Superspeedway, Chastain walked into the grandstands and shared chunks of his smashed watermelon with the fans.
For Truex, the NASCAR Cup Series regular-season point leader, it was another solid points race, but he really wishes his car just had a little better handling so he could have given Chastain a fight in the closing laps.
"Just needed to get the lead. Once we lost it, I probably made a bad move taking the bottom on a restart. Just too loose on the long runs. I could hang with whoever was leading, just could never get off the corner good enough to make a move," Truex explained. "Just lacking side bite, and overall just burning the rear tires off too much. Just really loose at the end of the race as well."
Denny Hamlin, who won Stage 2, had a good No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry throughout the race but finished the race in third. The veteran racer said he never felt like he had the race-winning car underneath him.
"The field is just so close, and everyone is running the same times that it's really hard," Hamlin said after climbing from his car. "Track position -- I just think we had a third-place car the entire race. I thought [Truex] was a little better. [Chastain] obviously came on strong there at the end. That's all we had with our FedEx Ground Toyota. An optimized day, a day with no mistakes. We gave ourselves a chance, just didn't have quite a fast enough car to go up and contend."
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson, who won the first two NASCAR Cup Series races at Nashville Superspeedway, came home in fourth and fifth.
Meanwhile, William Byron, Christopher Bell, Erik Jones, Kyle Busch and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top 10 finishers in the race.
Tyler Reddick, who won the opening Stage of the race, and seemed like he had a car capable of contending for the win, had a wheel fly off of his car on Lap 139 after a pit stop. After spinning onto pit road, and losing two laps in the incident, Reddick would be a non-factor for the remainder of the race.
Reddick would end the night in 30th, two laps down.
Photo Credit: Andrew Coppley, HHP for Chevy Racing