The Florida native achieved this goal during a hot afternoon at the 1.33-mile Tennessee track. He secured his spot in the final round of qualifying and then he went out and became the only driver to post a lap under 30 seconds (29.797). This locked up the pole award and put Chastain in a position to lead the field to the green flag.
Tyler Reddick, who was fastest in practice on Friday, June 23, had the second-best lap time at 30.005 seconds. This ensured a spot on the front row next to Chastain for the primetime Cup Series race that kicks off the NBC Sports portion of the schedule.
Bubba Wallace was the only driver that was in a position to potentially beat Chastain’s time. He was within reach of the fastest time, but he lost control and spun exiting Turn 4. He slid harmlessly onto the apron, but he was not able to complete his lap.
Qualifying Was Special for Chastain
The emotion was evident on Chastain’s face as he spoke to NBC Sports reporter Kim Coon. He explained that he has worked hard to get better at qualifying and that he has dealt with frustrations over the years.
As evidence of this fact, Chastain did not secure a starting spot inside of the top 10 until he joined Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2021 season. This was a season that had limited qualifying sessions, but Chastain delivered some solid laps when given the opportunity. This includes Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he qualified ninth overall and Road America where he qualified seventh.
Once Chastain moved to Trackhouse Racing, he took over stronger equipment. He reached the second round of qualifying in 13 of the 36 races, and he secured a spot on the front row at both Atlanta Motor Speedway and Richmond Raceway.
These two summer races remained as Chastain’s best qualifying efforts until the NASCAR Cup Series made its third trip to Nashville Superspeedway. This is when he went out and won the pole for the first time in his career.
Chastain’s average starting position through 167 starts is 23.8, but he has made major strides in 2022 and 2023. His average starting position during his first season at Trackhouse Racing was 14.4 and his average starting position entering the Nashville weekend in 2023 was 13.2.
“Definitely qualifying as a whole has not been my strong suit in my life, so a lot of work has went into it and not a lot of payoff,” Chastain told media members after winning the pole. “Not a lot of reward.
“Even the times that we do tie together round one, I’ve never been able to put round two together in a way that I’m proud of and that I feel like I’ve done right. I usually overdrive and when I should just go the same speed, or a little slower even and be fine, I usually slow down even more because I try to go faster.”
Chastain Has Raised Expectations for Nashville Superspeedway
The race weekend at Nashville Superspeedway provides Chastain with a big opportunity. He has struggled since the race weekend at Darlington Raceway where he crashed and finished 29th. He then finished 22nd at both Charlotte Motor Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway before finishing 10th at Sonoma Raceway.
Chastain’s weekend at Nashville Superspeedway began far better. He was third-fastest during the practice session on June 23 and then he went out and won the pole for the Ally 400 on June 24.
Where does Chastain go from here? Will this speed translate into a strong finish at the 1.33-mile track? That answer remains unknown, but the driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet has raised expectations for the weekend.
“After driving the rocket ship I had yesterday in practice, my expectations are high,” Chastain said prior to qualifying. “We’ll have a shot. We’ll be able to go and wherever we qualify, we’ll be able to race throughout tomorrow night’s race and put ourselves in position.
“Yeah, expectations are to go compete. We have fast cars. We have good support. Trying to tie up all the little loose ends. We just want a shot.. that’s it. It’s going to come down to restarts throughout the final stage and adjusting our car throughout the night.”