NASHVILLE TN – Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet) was the winner at the Inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway Sunday.
It was the third consecutive points series race victory and fourth overall, including last week’s All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway, for the 28-year-old driver from Elk Grove, California.
A crowd of 38,000 packed the grandstands on a sweltering Father’s Day at the renovated venue, which was built in 2000.
Ross Chastain was second, William Byron third, Aric Almirola, who was on the pole, fourth and Kevin Harvick fifth.
While Larson dominated, leading 264 of 300 laps, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Debris got stuck on his front grill on Lap 246, which threatened his lead because his engine could have overheated.
Larson, however, caught up to J.J. Yeley, who was a lap down, and drafted off him, which blew the debris off his grill.
Several drivers had brake issues on the sizzling hot track. By staying out front and out of the congestion for most of the race, Larson avoided having to brake as much and had no significant issues.
Three drivers were issued pre-race penalties. Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron, Richard Petty Motorsports’ Erik Jones, and StarCom Racing’s Quin Houff are all set to drop to the rear of the field ahead of this 300-lap race around the four-turn, 1.333-mile (2.145-kilometer) oval in Lebanon, Tennessee.
All three of these drivers were issued these penalties as a result of unapproved adjustments made to their cars ahead of the season’s 17th race.
Changes were made to the #43 Chevrolet of Jones and the #00 Chevrolet of Houff after their cars scraped the wall in qualifying. The change to the #24 Chevrolet of Byron was a track bar change made ahead of his qualifying lap.
Byron had been set to start the race in fourth place while Jones had been set to start in ninth. Houff was set to start in 39th (last) anyway because he did not post an official qualifying time, as he came into the pits after making contact with the wall.
Byron dropped to the tail end of the outside line and started in the 38th place while Jones and Houff dropped to the inside line, meaning they started in 37th and 39th, respectively.
Ufortunately for Chase Briscoe, brake issues were a problem.
“We just lost the brakes getting into turn three. It’s super unfortunate for our HighPoint.com/Thorlabs team. We had a really, really good car, and I feel like we were going to be right there for a top-five at the end,” Briscoe said. “We just needed a long run, but even in the short run we made our car so much better, so I really hate it, because that was going to be our best run of the year for sure and something like that happens. It’s really wild to see all the brake issues we’ve had today. We were able to do the Goodyear test a few months ago and knew that brakes were going to be way worse than everybody else thought. So we beefed them up and it still wasn’t good enough, so it’s unfortunate. We’ll go on to Pocono and try to have a good run for HighPoint.com at their home track.”
During Stage 1 (Laps 1-90) Chase Briscoe started 16th and finished 19th. He entered the top-10 on lap six but slipped back to 12th on lap nine. The HighPoint.com/Thorlabs driver held that position until lap 34 when cars further back in the field began to move forward.
On lap 39, Briscoe reported he was free on entry to the corner. Crew chief Johnny Klausmeier called him to pit road five laps later for a scheduled green-flag stop. He received four tires, fuel, and adjustments and returned to the track in 23rd, one lap down, just as the yellow caution flag was shown for the first time. Briscoe waved around and restarted 18th on lap 53. Just three laps later, caution was called again, and Briscoe restarted 16th on lap 62.
The HighPoint.com/Thorlabs Mustang was running 20th when the field was slowed for an incident in turn two. Briscoe relayed his handling was good but he needed his right-rear tire to have more grip on the entry. He pitted under the caution for four tires, fuel, and additional adjustments, and restarted 20th on lap 86. Briscoe battled for position over the remaining five laps in the stage to finish 19th.
During Stage 2 (Laps 91-185) Briscoe started 15th and finished third, earning eight bonus points.
The sixth caution of the race was called on lap 133 with Briscoe running 15th. He told the team his rear grip was much better but he still needed help with turn, as the HighPoint.com/Thorlabs Ford was tight center-off. The No. 14 team pitted for tires, fuel, and several adjustments to help with the front turn.
Briscoe restarted 12th and worked to find the best line until a caution came out on lap 174. Under yellow, he pitted for right-side tires and fuel and then lined up first for the lap-181 restart.
The HighPoint.com/Thorlabs driver held off Kyle Larson for a lap and a half before moving back to second. On the final lap of the stage, he battled with the No. 3 car to the finish line and was scored third at the line.
During Stage 3 (Laps 186-300) Briscoe started 13th and finished 32nd. After pitting for four tires, fuel, and adjustments to help the front turn, Briscoe started the final stage in the 13th position on lap 191.
Briscoe fought his way up to eighth before the yellow flag was shown on lap 197. He radioed to the team that the HighPoint.com/Thorlabs Ford fired off the best it had all day. The team elected to stay on track and restarted seventh on lap 203.
Briscoe maintained his position inside the top-10 and was running eighth until the next caution on lap 219. He asked the team for just a slight air pressure adjustment to help his front turn but noted the previous adjustments did help his handling. He was seventh off pit road and lined up eighth for the lap-223 restart.
The HighPoint.com/Thorlabs Ford Mustang was running seventh on lap 228 when Briscoe drifted up the track and made contact with the outside wall in turn four. He reported that he had no brakes. After pitting for the team to assess the damage, it was determined the No. 14 could not continue due to a loss of brakes.
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is a doubleheader June 26-27 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The first race starts at 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday and the second race begins at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.