Chase Elliott Captures Late Night Nashville Victory

Elliott rallied for his second win of the season as mother nature delayed the nearly seven-hour race.
Chase Elliott Captures Late Night Nashville Victory

It was a long night in Nashville but Chase Elliott didn't mind at all.

After several lightning and rain delays, the race went the full 300-lap distance and finished just before midnight on the East coast. Elliott earned his second victory of the season and the 15th of his career as Hendrick Motorsports went back-to-back after Kyle Larson won the return race last year.

Chase struggled in the first half of the race, but came alive after the long delay, leading 41 laps on his way to victory. "I figured the last caution was coming but I was hoping not," Elliott said. Ryan (Blaney) gave me a great shove. I appreciate him doing me a solid there and getting us out front.”

“So proud of our team. We had a setback there about halfway but we were able to get our Chevy dialed back in and get back in the mix. It was a long day, a fun day. Thanks to the fans for hanging out. We’ve had a pretty rough month, month-and-a-half. So, it’s nice to get back going in the right direction and getting a win is huge. To do it in a really cool city like Nashville is even better. Looking forward to that guitar trophy."

Chase was running in 5th position on Lap 118 when he had to come back to pit lane for an adjustment on the right-rear of his No. 5 Chevrolet. It was an impressive comeback for the second-generation driver who maintains his lead in the overall points standings with nine races remaining in the regular season.

Kurt Busch scored a runner-up finish for 23XI Racing, and was the only Toyota to finish inside the top-five. That is surprising, given how dominant the Japanese manufacturer was all weekend. In the opening stage of the race, all six Camry cars earned points by finishing inside the top-ten. That is the first time that Toyota has ever accomplished that feat.

Kurt had an opportunity to win on the final restart, but was not able to get the job done. He apologized to his No. 45 team after the race. "I let you guys down," he told them.

"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 things good. This Camry and all the TRD Camrys were awesome. I just hate it when we don’t get into victory lane and I was right there. I want to do it over, but you don’t get those at this elite level and Chase got the job done."

Chase Elliott Captures Late Night Nashville Victory

Ryan Blaney rebounded for a 3rd place finish tonight, which is incredible considering that he spun his car through the infield grass early in Stage 3. “I thought hot and slick during the day we were pretty competitive and then something went down and I didn’t think we were as good,” Blaney said.

“I’m not sure as the race kind of kept progressing later into the night I thought we lost some ground between some of the other cars. Jonathan (Hassler) made a good call to stay out the last stop. Why not, running ninth and was able to run third, so that was a good call by him. Overall, I wish it was in the hot and slick of the day because I thought we were a little bit more competitive, but not a bad finish.”

Larson did not have near the same pace that he did last year but a late caution flag moved him up through the field after many drivers hit pit road. He finished 4th with Ross Chastain rounding out the top five.

Denny Hamlin started on pole and had one of the strongest cars in the race but was not able to keep his No. 11 Camry up front after his late-race pit stop. Finishing just behind him in 7th was rookie Austin Cindric. Christopher Bell also had a very fast car but only managed an 8th place finish. Joey Logano did not have a good car but put all three Penske cars inside the top nine as Kevin Harvick rounded out the top ten on Sunday night.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr arguably had the best cars at Nashville. Both were at the front of the field all night, and running 2nd and 4th when a caution came out with just ten laps remaining. They elected to pit, which ultimately cost them a shot at a good finish. The four-lap shootout didn't provide them enough time or space to get back up front, and they finished a disappointing 21st and 22nd.

Truex won the first two stages and was on pace to match his season-best finish of 4th place until the decision to come to pit road. The JGR cars combined to lead 250 of the 300 laps in the race.

Chase Elliott Captures Late Night Nashville Victory

Although they finished 1st and 4th with Elliott and Larson, the day didn't start out well for Hendrick. The restart after the first lightning delay was a double whammy for the organization. First, it was William Byron that had a mechanical issue that sent him to the garage. Moments later, Alex Bowman got spun by Corey LaJoie and made heavy contact with the outside wall, ending his night early.

Many more drivers didn't have the positive results they so desperately needed as the playoffs draw nearer. Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick finished 14th and 18th for Richard Childress Racing. Brad Keselowski made contact at the back of the field in the final laps and limped home to a 29th place finish, one spot ahead of his teammate Chris Buescher.

It was another wild night for Buescher, who continues his roller coaster season. The driver of the No. 17 Ford flipped multiple times at Charlotte, missed the next race due to COVID, then finished 2nd at Sonoma. Tonight he lost the right-rear wheel on his Mustang, which means a four-race suspension looms for his crew chief.

Bubba Wallace rallied for a 12th place finish but was frustrated early in the race. He was running in 6th place when he had to come back to pit road for a loose wheel. “Leave me the (expletive) alone,” he radioed the No. 23 team. “Don’t talk to me the rest of race.” Crew chief Bootie Barker was ultimately able to calm him down, and the weather delays also likely eased his tension over the course of the night.

The next stop on the calendar is a trip to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on Independence Day weekend. Coverage for the Kwik Trip 250 at Road America begins at 3 PM ET on USA Network.

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