The best drivers in NASCAR made history on Sunday, June 20, with the first-ever Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway. The Ally 400 featured a large number of incidents and penalties as the drivers adjusted to the hot track temperatures, but one took care of business with a strong performance. Kyle Larson took the checkered flag and walked away with the iconic Gibson Les Paul trophy.
Larson jumped out to an early lead and turned in yet another impressive outing. He led 264 of the 300 laps and won Stage 2. He also held off charges by William Byron, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Ross Chastain. All tried to take the top spot from the No. 5, but he built up an insurmountable advantage en route to Victory Lane.
With this win at Nashville Superspeedway, Larson now has three straight that aid him in the points standings. He also has the $1 million bonus from winning the NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway. Larson continues to build his reputation as the championship favorite.
Brake Issues Disrupted Several Drivers Early in Stage 1
The Ally 400 went green when former NFL safety Bernard Pollard Jr. waved the flag as the honorary starter, but the drivers did not remain at full speed for very long. Multiple incidents occurred early, starting on the first lap. Quin Houff hit the wall and lost a tire, bringing out the caution seconds after the race began.
The incidents continued throughout Stages 1 and 2 as multiple drivers spun or hit the wall. A common theme was that they lost brakes. Ryan Blaney, in particular, headed to pit road multiple times before he hit the wall. The NBC Sports announcers explained during one of Blaney’s stops that he did not have brakes at certain points. The cameras then zoomed in to show one of his fluorescent tires covered in black brake dust.
Blaney was not the only driver that had this issue. Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and multiple other Cup Series stars headed to the pits early in Stage 1 for similar issues. However, they remained on the track while Blaney headed to the garage. The driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford Mustang attempted to navigate one of the turns, but one of his brake rotors exploded and shot toward the outside wall while cutting his tire.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer had a wild moment during Stage 2 due to brake issues. His right rear tire went flat and brought out the caution flag. Custer was able to limp back to his pit stall where the crew removed his destroyed tire, which had flames rising from it.
The pit crew immediately tossed the destroyed tire aside and pushed the No. 41 SHR Ford Mustang back to the garage for further repairs. This incident ruined a top-20 run near the end of Stage 2.
Brake Rotors Negatively Impacted Multiple Other Drivers
While the braking issues mainly occurred during Stage 1, there was one driver that had an issue later in the race. 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace spun during Stage 2, bringing out the yellow caution flag. Brake rotors caused this on-track incident, albeit in a very different way.
According to reporter Dustin Albino, Wallace expressed frustration over the radio, saying that he had run over rotor parts on the track, cutting his left rear tire. “They didn’t clean up f****** rotor parts on the frontstretch. Piss poor job by them,” Wallace said over the radio, per Albino.
This incident ruined what had been a promising run for the driver of the No. 23 Toyota Camry. Wallace was in the top 15 at the time that he hit the debris, but he fell one lap down after spinning and then heading to pit road.
Similarly, JTG Daugherty Racing drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Preece had to head to pit road during the final laps of Stage 2. According to the race team, both drivers reported over the radio that they ran over debris on the track, which ruined tires on their Chevrolet Camaro stock cars.