Larson crowns himself after a Cup Series long overdue Nashville comeback.
It was 1984 when Gary Baker said he was “Devastated” by NASCAR leaving Nashville. The reason was simple, at least it was simple to say: The track had gone bankrupt and was forced to close down. Nashville Super Speedway has since then hosted both the Xfinity and Truck Series, nonetheless, a Cup Series comeback was long overdue. That comeback finally came on Father’s Day.
Slippin’ and Slidin’
The NASCAR Cup Series was officially back at Nashville as soon as the green flag dropped. Start was clean for the most part up until the second corner. There, teams got a taste of how slippery the old track can be under traffic as Quinn Houff hit the wall.
Pole-sitter Aric Almirola had to fight to keep his spot from the very get-go as he had company in the form of Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson behind him. They were all slipping and sliding all over the track, Larson knew how to use that to his advantage to get the lead of the race.
Ryan Blaney got sideways as he was trying to make his way back to the front after starting from the rear. A few laps later, his brakes went completely missing as he showed no signs of stopping hitting the wall hard. He was out of the race and his car was wrecked. Chris Buescher and Justin Haley got cozy with the wall as well, bringing in the final caution of the stage and a five-lap shootout for the first Playoff point of the evening.
Cautions, Cautions, and More Cautions
The second stage gave us a shot to check in the lone foreign driver and his hometown team. Track House came into the second set of laps looking strong, driver Daniel Suarez ran its #99 Camaro on the 16th spot and he proved hard to move out of the way.
Poleman Almirola still ran 10th and given how tough his season has been, he was more than happy with it. Bubba Wallace kicked off the first cycle of green pitstop on stage two. Debry on the front stretch got his #23 Camry sideways and, while he saved the car, his tires were pretty much dead. Fresh tires on an early stop for Wallace, only a lap before the leaders came in for the scheduled stop.
Kyle Larson was starting to do his thing and running away with the lead as he has done so often as of late. The Valvoline #5 was already 5 seconds ahead of second-place Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and 10 seconds in front of third-place Almirola. Nonetheless, his lead was reduced to nothing hanks to Cole Custer’s shredded tire that caused a yellow flag.
Number 5 was too much for Chase Briscoe nonetheless, as he was nothing but a sitting duck in the front stretch during the restart. Another stage was in the books and Hendrick’s new guy had another Playoff point in the bag.
“No Need to Push it”
Final stage brought in another fair amount of caution flags. Most of them blamed the bakes. However, they were not to blame, the track was just too tough to tame under regular race conditions. Nashville Super Speedway turned into a completely different beat come Sunday. Cars were able to coast and roll through during practice and qualifying, on race day, however, brakes were under heavy use to avoid traffic. That was the one thing no team was truly ready for this weekend.
Larson had led more than 180 laps at this point and the only thing that could take away this race from him was fuel millage. That was something to keep an eye on as he had not yet pitted with only 66 laps to go and no more cautions in sight.
That was the least of his worries with 50 laps to go. Larson started picking all sorts of debris on his grill off the front stretch. His crew chief had no problem with all the trash in the front “Don’t worry, that’s not really on the grill.” said the man up in the box. He was right, all Larson did was stick behind a lap car and his trash can on wheels was gone.
His fuel problems, however, were not. Nonetheless, he showed some fine throttle control coasting through the corner, saving every bit of gas he could. “There was no need to push it” he was told and, once again his crew chief was right.
Kyle Larson was again at Victory Lane in a win that seemed almost effortless. A dominant performance on NASCAR’s triumphant return to the music city.
What’s Next for NASCAR?
The Cup Series will now move to Pocono Raceway. The Tricky Triangle will play host to a one-of-a-kind doubleheader starting next Saturday.
Missed the race at Sonoma? Check it out HERE
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