For the second time this season, Chase Elliott’s patience paid off after lightning and rain-induced delays, winning the second annual Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on Sunday, June 26, and securing his 15th career Cup Series win.
A clutch late-race performance combining quick track position recovery and a well-timed late pit stop sealed a vital win as the playoff season approaches.
While Elliott’s first win of the season at Dover resulted in a Monday finish, the Nashville race managed to be completed Sunday night after two separate stoppages.
“It was a long, fun day,” Elliott said. “Just so proud of our team [after] a rough month, so it’s just nice to get back in the right direction. Getting a win is always huge and to do it in a really cool city like Nashville is even better.”
After beginning the race in fourth position, Elliott maintained a stable track position by keeping himself in the back half of the top 10 early on.
With a lightning delay at lap 41, the race was put on hold for just over an hour. After the restart, Elliott stayed steady and would eventually finish Stage One in eighth position.
It was after the second and longest delay at lap 140 that the Dawsonville native put on a winning display, showing no signs of fatigue after an additional two hours off the track.
With the race starting back up exactly halfway through its 300 laps, Elliott began in the middle of the pack but quickly rocketed up the field.
Within the first five laps after the restart he advanced seven positions and was in the top five by lap 180.
After maneuvering past Ross Chastain and Kurt Busch, Elliott finished Stage Two in fourth position.
He would show his recovery skills again after taking a pit stop during the lap 205 caution, coming out of that stop in 14th position but taking just 10 laps to get back into the top 5.
By this stage of the night, Elliott found himself part of a leading group of Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin that would remain together for most of the race.
Elliott continued to push the leaders, eventually passing Truex Jr. and Busch to briefly take the lead before electing to be in the first cycle of the final pit stops of the night.
While that choice would come to benefit Elliott compared to the drivers who waited to pit, the end of the race had plenty of drama.
As the second cycle of drivers went to pit road, a loose tire on the track caused another caution, threatening to foil the strategy of Elliott’s team.
Despite the incident, he got himself out to the front row at the restart and was back in the lead with 35 laps remaining.
With just 10 laps left in the race, one last caution would guarantee a frantic final five laps. Staying out during the caution, Elliott burst out of the restart and held off Kurt Busch to win the race.
“These [wins] are hard to come by,” Elliott said. “You have to enjoy them and you never know when or if you’ll ever get another one.”
For Elliott, the win in Nashville was a complete turnaround after a finish there last season where he was disqualified for a post-race inspection violation.
By securing his second victory this season, Elliott extended his lead in the regular season points standings and now leads the playoff standings.