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Tuesday, June 25
The Indiana Daily Student

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NASCAR’s Ross Chastain returns to victory lane for first time this season in Ally 400

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Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain was victorious twice last season but had been winless so far this season entering the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway Sunday. Chastain’s last victory was at Talladega Superspeedway on April 24, 2022. His first career win came on March 27, 2022.

But after qualifying in the pole position Saturday for the first time in his career, Chastain had a strong Sunday evening at the 1.33-mile concrete oval, winning his first race this season.

Just a few laps into the race, Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch suffered a flat right rear tire, quickly putting him in a deficit. Busch left the pit road two laps down and eventually recovered for a ninth-place finish after being assessed a pit road speeding penalty later in the race.

With stage one nearing completion, Reddick overtook Chastain, who got caught up by a lapped car. Reddick went on to win the opening stage and it looked like the race would come down to a battle between Reddick and Chastain for the victory.

That was until Reddick's pit stop halfway through stage two. The No. 45 pit crew changed all four tires on Reddick’s car but was unable to properly tighten the right rear tire. As a result, the tire fell off and Reddick was penalized immediately, being sent to the back of the field.

While trying to get up to speed during the restart after the caution caused by Reddick, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney was involved in a crash that saw him hit the inside wall head-on.

Once the green flag waved, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin separated themselves from the rest of the field as they fought for the lead. Hamlin eventually passed Truex and went on to win stage two.

With 69 laps remaining, Chastain passed Hamlin to regain the lead for the first time since the opening stage. After completing a pit cycle, Truex was able to inch closer to Chastain and had closed the gap to half a second but was ultimately unable to catch him. Not only does Sunday’s win mark his first win of the season, but it also marks his triumph after a rocky start to this season.

Personal thoughts:

Chastain’s rebound

Not only does Sunday’s win mark his first win of the season, but it also marks his triumph after a rocky start to this season. Chastain was involved in several on-track incidents earlier this season which eventually led Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick to publicly criticize the driver.

With his victory, Chastain has now clinched a spot in the NASCAR Playoffs and will look to accumulate additional playoff points prior to the end of the regular season on August 29 at Daytona International Speedway.

Chase Elliott’s solid day

Although Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott most likely needs a win to qualify for the NASCAR Playoffs, Sunday’s fifth-place finish could help propel him into a victory soon.

Elliott missed six races earlier this season due to injury and missed an additional race due to suspension, leaving him 74 points behind the playoff cut line. Although it isn’t out of the question that Elliott can get into the playoffs on points, a win would lock him in.

Truex Jr. comes up short of back-to-back victories

Following his victory at Sonoma Raceway two weeks ago, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. followed that up with a second-place finish to Chastain. Truex didn't qualify for the 2022 NASCAR Playoffs but looks to be in good shape this year with two victories. Truex looks to be the strongest out of his team so far and could be bound for a deep playoff run.

The NASCAR Cup Series will now head to the new Chicago Street Course for the inaugural Grant Park 200 on July 2. The race will be televised on NBC and will begin at 5:30 p.m. EST.

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