Photo: Logan T. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Up to Speed: Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway Preview

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

The NASCAR Cup Series is back in Music City for the third straight year to take on Nashville Superspeedway and Sunday’s running of the Ally 400.

Prior to its Cup debut in 2021, the track located on the outskirts of Nashville in Lebanon, Tennessee, was no stranger to hosting NASCAR events with both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series running there from 2001 to 2011 before the track was shuttered.

The Nashville track serves as an oddity on the Cup Series schedule, a 1.33-mile D-shaped concrete oval, that is unlike any other track the series visits as it traverses the country throughout the season.

With just 10 races remaining before the Playoffs, a number of drivers have yet to capture their first win of the season, including Ross Chastain, Kevin Harvick, defending race winner Chase Elliott, and others. Throw in the fact that 10 of the 16 Playoff spots have already been claimed by race winners and it will be a dogfight from now to Daytona to see which drivers will ultimately make the cut.

Will one of the winless drivers punch their ticket to the postseason or will the rich just keep getting richer? We’ll find out on Sunday night.

By the Numbers

What: Ally 400, NASCAR Cup Series race No. 17 of 36

Where: Nashville Superspeedway – Lebanon Tennessee (Opened: 2001)

TV/Radio: NBC, 7:00 pm ET / PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Channel 90

Track Size:  1.333-mile D-shaped concrete oval

Banking: 14 degrees in Turns, 9 degrees on front straightaway, 6 degrees on back straightaway

Race Length: 300 laps (399.9 miles)

Stage Lengths: 90 laps (Stage 1), 95 laps (Stage 2), 115 laps (Final stage)

2022 Race Winner: Chase Elliott – No. 9 Chevrolet (Started fourth, 42 laps led)

Track Qualifying Record: Aric Almirola – 29.557 seconds, 161.992 mph

Top-10 Highest Driver Ratings at Nashville:

  1. Kyle Larson – No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet – 123.9
  2. Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota – 110.9
  3. Chase Elliott – No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet – 110.2
  4. Ross Chastain – No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet – 107.7
  5. Kevin Harvick – No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford – 105.8
  6. Kyle Busch – No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet – 99.6
  7. Joey Logano – No. 22 Team Penske Ford – 90.2
  8. Christopher Bell – No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota – 89.2
  9. Aric Almirola – No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford – 88.0
  10. Martin Truex Jr. – No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota – 86.9

From the Driver’s Seat

“The big thing about Nashville Superspeedway is its different characteristics from other mile-and-a halves or mile-and-a thirds that we race on, which are primarily asphalt,” said Kyle Busch. “Nashville is all concrete so that surface is definitely different than the rest of them and what transpires throughout a run with the tire wear and things like that is definitely interesting.

“The biggest things that you need to be fast at Nashville are good brakes, good stopping power, being able to get to the bottom of the track, turn the center of the corner, throttle up and exit out of the corner without being too tight or too loose. Being able to have a good car that can roll the bottom has been really good for me at Nashville over the years.

“A lot also depends on if they put resin down or spray the track with any traction compound, because that also kind of changes whether you let the car move up the racetrack any or not.”

Last Time at Nashville

Just call him “Concrete Chase.”

The 2022 Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway threw everything it could at Chase Elliott, but when the checkered flag flew, it was the No. 9 Chevrolet that was victorious for the second time this season – both on concrete tracks.

“Just so proud of our team because we kind of had a setback there about halfway and we were able to get our NAPA Chevy dialed back in and get back in the mix,” Elliott said.

“It was a long day, a fun day. Thank you guys so much for hanging out. Just so proud of our team. We have had a pretty rough month and month-and-a-half, so just nice to get going back in the right direction. Getting a win is always huge, but to do it in a really cool city like Nashville is even better. Looking forward to that guitar.”

After starting the day in fourth-place, Elliott finished both the first and second stage in the top-10, but when heavy rain moved in just prior to the end of the second stage, it was anyone’s guess who would come out the other side as the favorite as what was a race in the heat of the afternoon shifted to a night race on the 1.333-mile oval.

While Joe Gibbs Racing seemed to be destined for the win, leading a combined 251 laps, Elliott’s car came to life in the latter stages of the race and he made his presence known as a contender down the stretch.

Elliott first took the lead on lap 245 just prior to green flag pit stops, but it was the restart after Chris Buescher lost a wheel to bring out the yellow in which Elliott showed he was the driver to beat for the win.

Powering past Kyle Busch to take the lead with 39 laps to go, it was shaping up to be a three on one battle to see who would come out on top – Elliott versus the JGR trio of Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex, Jr.

As the laps clicked away, Elliott held a steady advantage over his challengers, but the racing gods didn’t make it easy on him as the yellow flag flew for the 10th and final time to set up a four-lap dash to the finish.

Now it all came down to strategy, keep the track position or dive down to pit road and gamble that fresher tires would be the winning ticket.

Elliott elected to keep his track position and the lead, but all three JGR cars behind him and a host of others decided otherwise and made the trip down pit road for new Goodyears. Along with Elliott, 10 cars remained out on track to provide a buffer between him and the drivers that pitted.

That’s all that Elliott needed as he held off Kurt Busch to claim the victory by a 0.551 second margin of victory.

Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)

Friday, June 23

  • NASCAR Cup Series Practice (6:30 pm – USA Network)

Saturday, June 24

  • NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying (1:00 pm – USA Network)

Sunday, June 25

  • Ally 400 at Nashville (7:00 pm – 300 laps, 399.9 miles – NBC)

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.