By Bob Pockrass
Writer NASCAR Sports FOX
LEBANON, Tenn. — Chase Elliott has endured a frustrating past few months, so he is more than willing to take more than six hours to land his second win of the 2022 season.
Elliott led the final 39 laps, including a four-round run to the finish following a late warning, to win the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on Sunday night where two weather delays lasted more than three hours.
“It was a long day,” said Elliott. “A fun day.”
The win made Elliott 2-for-2 on concrete tracks this year with his first win of the season coming in May at Dover.
Takeaways after a long night in Nashville.
Elliott got off the skid
After winning at Dover, Elliott finished fifth the following week and then posted three consecutive finishes outside the top 20. An eighth at Sonoma was a bit of a rebound, but Elliott desperately needed a good result.
Perhaps saying he desperately needed a good result was an exaggeration — he was still the draw points leader. He increased his lead in the series standings to 30 over Ross Chastain.
But Elliott said the win was important.
“The last month and a half, the two months we’ve had have been horrendous,” Elliott said. “I fell about 10 times, and we had a lot of things that ended in bad results.
“I’m proud to be able to bounce back from such a tough stretch.”
Chase Elliott beats concrete to win in Nashville
Chase Elliott remains on used tires after a late warning to win a rain-delayed Cup race in Nashville.
Key to victory:
Elliott returned from an early pit stop where he had a loose wheel, and he had to return, lowering him to the back of the court.
He held off Kyle Busch as they battled for the lead with 30 laps to go.
And then Elliott kept his eye on the other 11, giving him enough space so that no one who was complaining about tires could only catch up to him in the last four laps.
Back to note
Ryan Blaney spun with 95 laps to go as he battled a car that was difficult for him to control. A few fine adjustments and pit calls for him to stay alert at the end of the game put him in position to finish third.
“We went back and forth all night,” Blaney said. “We didn’t seem to get it right where we needed to be. … You want to win every week and that’s what we were planning to do and we didn’t get it done.”
Another rider to make a comeback was Kyle Larson, who was awarded an early speed penalty and like Blaney, the decision to stay out helped him finish well as he crossed the line in fourth.
It was Larson’s first race with crew chief Cliff Daniels seated as part of a four-race suspension for loose wheels at Sonoma. Larson said Daniels remained in touch with the team, led by engineer Kevin Meendering on track.
“It went really smoothly,” said Larson. “The cliff is [there] virtually, and we talk to him every time we go to the trailer for [weather delays]. It doesn’t seem much different — just a different sound on my headset.
“It just goes to show how Cliff has prepared this team.”
Toyota is leading but empty
Denny Hamlin led 114 laps, Martin Truex Jr. led both stages and led 82 laps and Busch led 54 laps. But the only Toyota to make the top five was Kurt Busch, who was among those who remained alert at the end of the game and started again second next to Elliott and finished there.
“I had a plan and I didn’t execute it,” said Kurt Busch, suggesting he could have raced Elliott a little bit rougher in the final laps. “You should have thrown the fender, but I didn’t throw the fender.
“I wanted to wash and cut back down and I didn’t finish both. … I just didn’t get the job done.”
Hamlin, Truex and Busch all took to the pit road at the final warning, and Truex and Busch were both thrown off as Truex caught up in an incident with Brad Keselowski and Busch eventually spun around, relegating them to 21st (Busch) and 22nd (Truex). Hamlin finished sixth.
Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 after stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpokrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!
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Ally 400: Chase Elliott ends a long night with a win in Nashville
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