In NASCAR’s annual visit to Music City, Ross Chastain was truly the boss Sunday night (June 25).
The controversial driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet captured his third career NASCAR Cup Series win in the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway.
He started on pole and stayed up front most of the night, leading 100 of 300 laps. And a driver known for aggression did so without incident or any sort of major contact.
Chastain did have to duel with Martin Truex Jr. to get out front. Truex brought his No. 19 Toyota home second, a role reversal of the 1-2 finish the duo had at Dover Motor Speedway earlier last month.
That snapped a 54-race winless streak for Truex. This time, it was Chastain’s turn to bury a 42-race drought of his own. That slump included a low point at Darlington Raceway last month, crashing out with fellow contender Kyle Larson in an incident that drew pointed comments about his driving from rival team owner Rick Hendrick.
“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,” Chastain said to NBC Sports following the win. “You will start believing 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, just keep getting up and going to work.”
Truex did everything he could to catch Chastain down the stretch, but he came up just short, crossing the line 0.789 seconds behind.
“Just needed to get the lead,” Truex told NBC Sports. “Once we lost it, I probably made a bad move taking the bottom on a restart and then, too loose in the long runs. Could hang with whoever was leading, just could never get off the corner good enough to make a move.
“Burning the rear tires off too much, just really loose at the end of the race there as well. Just needed a little bit.”
Truex later complained to Frontstretch’s Stephen Stumpf, among others, that dirty air made it virtually impossible to make a pass for the lead.
William Byron, Christopher Bell, Erik Jones, Kyle Busch, and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top-10 finishers. It was a great run for Jones, whose Legacy Motor Club team has struggled all season, and Allmendinger, who scored his second consecutive top 10 in the Cup Series after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series race the day prior.
Toyotas were fast from the get go at Nashville, consistently the top challengers to Chastain all night. 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick won stage one while Hamlin triumphed in stage two. Reddick’s chance for the win evaporated immediately following a mid-race pit stop, though due to a loose wheel. He never recovered and finished 30th, the only one of six Toyota drivers to end his night outside the top 15.
It was a relatively clean race at Nashville; after a total of 21 cautions in the first two Cup events held there, this race had just four including stage breaks. However, there was a scary moment in the middle of stage two as a stack-up on a restart caused Ryan Blaney to spin into the inside wall and hit a non-SAFER barrier head on at high speed. Blaney was shaken up initially but later checked and released at the infield care center on his own accord.
“Hardest hit of my life,” Blaney said following the incident. The driver was critical of the racetrack for having no SAFER Barrier; in response, NASCAR released a statement after the race that “As we do following every race weekend, we will evaluate all available data and make any necessary improvements [to the racetrack].”
The full results for tonight’s race are in the link below:
Next up, the NASCAR Cup Series will race at the Chicago Street Course for the first time this coming Sunday. Coverage begins July 2 at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN radio affiliates and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
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