NASCAR Cup Series

The race that wouldn’t end

The race that wouldn't end

Jul. 3—GLADEVILE

In a battle of attrition which took over five hours and a NASCAR-record five overtimes to decide, Joey Logano kept Tyler Reddick on his rear bumper to win a rain-delayed Ally 400 Cup Series race Sunday evening at Nashville Superspeedway.

In the most nerve-wracking finish in the track's 15 active seasons of racing, the sellout crowd endured an hour, 21-minute weather delay. As the race neared its anticipated conclusion, cars were running short on fuel and tire treads. But front-runners couldn't risk pitting for fear of losing track position until some finally gave up the ghost, either by pitting, running out of gas or wrecking, with some of the crashes caused by cars which could go no further.

Logano, who had gone more than 100 laps (many under caution) without pitting, finally took the lead over Chase Briscoe and blocked Tyler Reddick on the final lap to sputter across the finish line. Somehow, Logano had enough fuel remaining to do a celebratory burnout on the front stretch and drive it into Victory Lane.

"I couldn't get to the line quick enough," Logano said "If we don't win, we finish third or fourth.

"It takes a little bit of everything. We didn't feel comfortable about it. It was risky. You go for it, say a couple of prayers, cross your fingers and go for it."

"He said he was on fumes coming out of 4 and toward the checkers," Logano's crew chief, Paul Wolfe, said.

The race, scheduled for 300 laps, went 331 laps before ending at 8:15 p.m. on USA Network. It began at 2:50 on NBC. The 399.9 miles were stretched to over 441 miles.

An announced sellout crowd from all 50 states and 19 countries, in addition to a nationwide NBC audience, saw pole-sitter Denny Hamlin led the first 16 laps until Christopher Bell, who began third, passed him to take the lead.

That order held until the first round of green pit stops on Lap 40 as Ty Gibbs, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell took turns inheriting the lead. When McDowell finally went in on Lap 77, Bell and Hamlin recycled back to the top two spots, which held until the end of Stage 1 on Lap 90.

Hamlin exited the pits ahead of Bell and was in the lead when green-flag racing resumed.

With the field trying to get as many laps in before rain moved in from the north, John Hunter Nemechek spun out into the infield grass on Lap 116 bringing out the first non-scheduled caution. That sent the field onto Pit Road to set themselves for the rest of Stage 2.

When the race went back green, Bell was in the lead ahead of Brad Keselowski. But Gibbs spun into the infield just a couple of laps later, sending the race back to yellow.

The field remained on the track and Bell held the lead on restart at Lap 129 with Reddick moving into second.

But darkening skies and lightning brought out the caution again on Lap 136, 15 before the halfway mark which would make it official. A red flag then brought the cars into pit road where they were covered before drivers and crews took cover. Unlike the week before at New Hampshire, rain-weather tires were not an option for this race on a longer track.

Following the one-hour, 21-minute red flag stoppage, Bell led the field back to racing with Reddick in second place. That lasted until Stage 2 ended at Lap 186.

Hamlin took second place coming out of the pits as Stage 3 went green. He had slipped to third behind Reddick by the time Riley Herbst was grazed by Corey LaJoie and hit the wall on Lap 202 to bring out a caution flag.

The top 14 stayed out. Once the green came back out, it was quickly back to yellow as Erik Jones, in the back of the pack, had tire issues which forced him into the wall. But that was enough time for Reddick to get past Bell and into the lead with Hamlin in third.

Bell edged past Reddick for the lead following the restart on Lap 206 as the pair raced side by side.

Reddick was listed as the leader when Chase Elliott spun out coming out of Turn 4, bringing out another caution. With 79 laps to go, most of the field pitted with Ryan Blaney staying out to inherit the lead before green returned with 75 laps to go.

Bell, the dominant car of the day with 131 laps led, was running 15th when he spun out and hit the wall on Lap 228. Blaney had the lead but unlikely with enough fuel to finish while the rest of the field, which had just pitted, now had a means to conserve fuel with the caution.

"I put myself in a bad spot," Bell said. "Lost my cool."

A.J. Almendinger led the field to the line when the green flag returned with 66 laps remained but was quickly passed by Blaney and later defending champion Ross Chastain.

Keselowski was tapped and hit the wall with 56 laps to go to bring out another caution. As soon as the yellow came out, Carson Hocevar hit Harrison Burton from behind.

Chastain passed Blaney for the lead following the restart with 52 laps to go.

Blaney finally exited the race for tires and fuel with 31 laps to go, handing second place to Hamlin, with Bubba Wallace and Kyle Busch in third and fourth.

Hamlin, the fastest car down the stretch, tried to pass Chastain with 10 to go but wobbled and had to back off.

But Chastain got loose between 1 and 2 with eight to go and Hamlin got around him for the lead.

But just when it seemed like Hamlin had Victory Lane in his sights, Austin Cindric contacted with Noah Gragson on Lap 298, forcing a caution and setting up a likely green-white-checkered finish.

With fuel and old tires looming across the board, the top five cars stayed out before Wallace led a pack onto Pit Road.

On the restart, Chastain was tapped by Kyle Larson, spinning him out. He was hit again by Gibbs off the wall, leaving Hamlin in the lead ahead of Larson and Martin Truex Jr. Busch had to slow down and fell well behind after running in the top five. NASCAR put him back into fifth place. Hamlin had been told he had enough fuel for one green-white-checkered, but not two.

Hamlin charged ahead on the restart but a four-car wreck back in the field put the race on pause once more.

On the restart, Larson, running second, ran out of fuel and was hit from behind by Busch to start a chain reaction to bring out another caution with Truex moving into second place.

"I thought my opportunity to give myself a win was to get clean air on the nose," Larson said. "I just ran in, got tight and drove into Ross. I hate that, for sure. The next restart I just got really out of shape through the gears and, thankfully, didn't cause a crash on the frontstretch. And then the next one we ran out of fuel and caused that wreck. Hate that for Kyle (Busch). I had no warning.

"Obviously, we knew we were really close on fuel," Larson continued. "It was going to be a stretch to make it, but I had no low fuel pressure alarm on my dash, so it was a bit surprising. When I went to the throttle, it just never went. I couldn't really get out of the way either, because we were still to the wall — hadn't even gotten to the dogleg yet to get out of the way. I'm really, really bummed for (Busch) because he needs the points. Thankfully, we were able to work through the last restarts and get a top 10, but bummed with how it all kind of ended up."

At this point, Hamlin and Truex pitted, handing the lead to Joey Logano with Chase Briscoe second. Both had gone 100 laps or longer since pitting.

"We were 15 seconds from a win and then we were 10 seconds from a win and then we finished 12th," Hamlin said. "That's just NASCAR Cup Series racing and it's just part of it."

On the fourth restart, the pair went side by side before Josh Berry was knocked into the wall. The leaders hadn't gotten back to the start-finish line before the caution came out, forcing a fifth OT.

Logano, a two-time Cup Series champion who won an Xfinity race here before NSS went into hibernation following the 2011 season, moved into the lead and with his car running on fumes, blocked Reddick for his first win of the season and a playoff berth. Zane Smith finished second.

"We were mediocre today," Logano said. "We weren't the fastest car. Paul made some great calls."

"We got to the 22's (Logano's) bumper on the last lap and um, he just kicked my (butt)," Reddick said. "We should have won the race. We just didn't get the job done. We had better tires, pretty much the race was gifted to us. It takes a toll on you, that's for sure."

The sellout was the third in the four years of Cup racing at NSS. After starting on NBC, the rain delay forced the race to be switched to its sister network USA at 6:30 to the US track & field trials airing on the over-the-air network.

NASCAR Cup Series Race — Ally 400

Nashville Superspeedway

Gladeville

Sunday, June 30, 2024

1. (26) Joey Logano, Ford, 331.

2. (36) Zane Smith #, Chevrolet, 331.

3. (6) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 331.

4. (22) Ryan Preece, Ford, 331.

5. (9) Chris Buescher, Ford, 331.

6. (18) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 331.

7. (24) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 331.

8. (4) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 331.

9. (37) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 331.

10. (16) Noah Gragson, Ford, 331.

11. (28) AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 331.

12. (1) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 331.

13. (33) Justin Haley, Ford, 331.

14. (12) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 331.

15. (10) Austin Cindric, Ford, 331.

16. (15) Carson Hocevar #, Chevrolet, 331.

17. (32) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 331.

18. (13) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 331.

19. (7) William Byron, Chevrolet, 331.

20. (21) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 331.

21. (19) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 331.

22. (31) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 331.

23. (8) Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 331.

24. (17) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 331.

25. (5) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 330.

26. (2) Josh Berry #, Ford, Accident, 327.

27. (27) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, Accident, 319.

28. (25) Harrison Burton, Ford, Accident, 312.

29. (29) Corey Heim(i), Toyota, Accident, 312.

30. (23) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 312.

31. (35) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, Accident, 306.

32. (11) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 305.

33. (20) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, Accident, 304.

34. (34) Erik Jones, Toyota, Suspension, 287.

35. (14) Michael McDowell, Ford, Transmission, 239.

36. (3) Christopher Bell, Toyota, Accident, 227.

37. (30) Riley Herbst(i), Ford, Accident, 201.

38. (38) Chad Finchum(i), Ford, Electrical, 132.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 108.298 mph.

Time of Race: 4 Hrs, 3 Mins, 54 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.068 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 15 for 79 laps.

Lead Changes: 20 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders: D. Hamlin 1-16 C. Bell 17-38 T. Gibbs 39-40 T. Reddick 41-45 M. McDowell 46-76 C. Bell 77-92 D. Hamlin 93-117 C. Bell 118-187 T. Reddick 188 C. Bell 189-208 T. Reddick 209-213 C. Bell 214 T. Reddick 215 C. Bell 216-217 T. Reddick 218-221 R. Blaney 222-233 A. Allmendinger(i) 234 R. Blaney 235-248 R. Chastain 249-293 D. Hamlin 294-322 J. Logano 323-331.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Christopher Bell 6 times for 131 laps; Denny Hamlin 3 times for 70 laps; Ross Chastain 1 time for 45 laps; Michael McDowell 1 time for 31 laps; Ryan Blaney 2 times for 26 laps; Tyler Reddick 5 times for 16 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 9 laps; Ty Gibbs 1 time for 2 laps; AJ Allmendinger(i) 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 20,11,45,5,6,54,24,17,19,23

Stage #2 Top Ten: 20,45,5,11,6,9,19,12,17,10

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