Just 0.551 seconds separated Ally 400 winner Chase Elliott and second-place finisher Kurt Busch in Sunday’s race at the Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon.
Elliott, who picked up his second NASCAR Cup Series win this season, stayed on the track and didn’t pit for fresh tires — along with nine other drivers — holding off a late surge from Busch on a restart following a caution flag with nine laps remaining.
The 26-year-old Elliott, who led 42 of the race’s 300 laps including the final 39, is just the fifth driver with multiple NASCAR Cup Series wins this year.
“I got soft on him,” Busch said of chasing Elliott. “I should have been throwing some fenders and moving some momentum around. I just needed to stick with our strength, and I messed up. The way that we’re running, a second is cool, but we’re here for wins.”
“We’ve had a pretty rough month, month-and-a-half,” Elliott said of his win. “So, it’s nice to get back going in the right direction and getting a win is always huge. To do it in a really cool city like Nashville is even better. Looking forward to that guitar [trophy]. These things are hard to come by and you have to enjoy them. You never know when or if ever you will get another one.”
While Elliott unquestionably enjoyed his moment in the sun after just the second NASCAR race in the Nashville area after a 37-year hiatus, he made it known the Wilson County track wasn’t his track of preference during his post-race presser.
"I wish we were at the Fairgrounds, for the record," Elliott said. "I'm glad we're at least in the market and this is a cool town. It's a great place to be. It's a great place to race. It's a town that I think embraces us and we embrace the people that were here.”
Elliott, who began his racing career at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, has been a longtime advocate for getting NASCAR to return to the 117-year-old track. He won the inaugural Camping World Superstar Racing Experience Series at the track last year, holding off former NASCAR champion Tony Stewart and his father, Bill Elliott.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper and Bristol Motor Sports announced an agreement back in November to renovate the Fairgrounds Speedway with the intent of luring a NASCAR Cup Series race back to the historic track, where it held more than 40 Cup races between 1958 and 1984.
“It’s just that racetrack and the history of that racetrack and its location is just something that we’re never going to replicate again,” Elliott said. “For the most part, all of these facilities that we have are 45 minutes to an hour outside whatever said market is we’re trying to reach. … With the Fairgrounds, you’d be drawing from an area that is 15 blocks away or so. … That’s why I think as an industry we need to take advantage of that. We don’t need to let that place die.”
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_