Sound of success: Kyle Larson wins at Nashville
Sunday’s inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway saw comers and goers throughout the day, as well as a rash of brake problems that impacted multiple drivers.
But Kyle Larson was, once again, ahead of it all.
Larson led a race-high 264 of 300 laps and had the fuel mileage at the end to finish off his third consecutive points-paying win and fourth of the season.
He has now finished first or second in his last six points-paying races dating back to May 9 at Darlington Raceway. He also won the exhibition NASCAR All-Star Race last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
“It was a great day,” Larson told NBC Sports after the race in front of a sold-out crowd at the 1.33-mile concrete oval. “We never really had to run behind people ... If one of my teammates got out in front again, it probably would’ve been hard to pass them.
“Our (car) was really good. It could cut the middle of the corner really well and our pit crew did an awesome job again. That number-one pit stall helps a bunch, too.”
Sunday’s Cup race was the first in the Nashville market since Geoff Bodine’s win at Fairgrounds Speedway on July 14, 1984.
Larson did Sunday what Bodine did at the Fairgrounds 37 years ago: Take the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports car to victory after starting fifth and leading the most laps. In Bodine’s case, he led 327 of 420 laps on the .596-mile short track.
Ross Chastain had a strong drive to finish a career-best second for Chip Ganassi Racing. He previously earned his first Cup top five last month with a fourth at Circuit of the Americas.
Larson’s teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, William Byron, finished third. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.
Reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott initially finished 13th, but was later disqualified after his car was found with five loose lug nuts in post-race inspection.
Elliott will be credited with a 39th-place finish. He also loses the playoff point he earned for winning the first stage.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Chase Elliott
STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Larson
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Almirola’s fourth-place finish was a season-best and a desperately needed result in a campaign that’s already included five DNFs ... Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran as high as second at several points before coming home sixth, his best finish since a runner-up in March on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway ... Daniel Suarez, carrying the orchid purple of famed Nashville honky tonk Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, finished seventh to notch his third top 10 with the new Trackhouse Racing.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Brake rotor issues led to trouble for Ryan Blaney (crash, Lap 55), Cole Custer (finished 31st), and Ryan Preece (finished 33rd) among others ... Two spins, one via contact with Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell, were part of a rough afternoon for Bubba Wallace (finished 21st) ... Moments after the start, Quin Houff drove into Turn 1 and went straight into the wall. Houff’s right-front wheel came off in the incident and was confiscated by NASCAR.
NOTABLE: Larson has won the last two Cup races held on Father’s Day. He won on June 18, 2017 for Chip Ganassi Racing at Michigan International Speedway.
NEXT: Pocono Raceway doubleheader - Race #1, Sat., June 26, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN