Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Meghana Sree
As teams travel across America from sunny California to Nashville, Tennessee and return to oval racing in the Nashville Superspeedway, the race to playoffs is heating up– especially after Martin Truex Jr. took his second win of the season in Sonoma and the lead in the regular season points standings. Who could win this race? How will tyre strategy be?
The Nashville Superspeedway, 1.3 miles (2.15 kilometres) in length, is one of the longest tracks on the race calendar. After a ten year closure, the track reopened in 2021 and the Ally 400 race has been hosted on this track ever since. The track features a 14 degree banking on both turns, while the main straight has a nine degree banking, and the back straight has a six degree banking.
Tyre strategy will be crucial for the drivers if they want to get in a position to challenge for a win. The pit window will be in between every 65-85 laps, depending on the driver’s approach to the race early on. If drivers are running the high lane for more overtakes, they might need to pit even earlier to avoid losing grip and slamming into the wall. Teams who choose a conservative style and stick to the lower line can extend their stint to the end of stage one, take a green flag stop when the pit lane is clear, and get on top of the pack at the start of stage two. However, cautions are a huge factor in Nashville and the past two iterations of this event have produced multiple early cautions.
The weather forecast shows a possibility of thunderstorms, so a delay might be in place. The race will start at 19:00 Eastern (16:00 Pacific, 01:00 CET) on Sunday, 25th June.
Predicting this race would be more difficult than others, taking into consideration the multiple issues that occurred during the past two races held here. Brake failures, popped tyres, and a couple of crashes all contributed to the multiple cautions in past races.
However, it wouldn’t be NASCAR if Hendrick Motorsports and the Chevys weren't favourites. Having four talented and consistent drivers while having top notch pit crews as well can certainly help the cause towards winning. They all performed quite well in the Sonoma, a road course where the Chevys struggled– with Kyle Larson and Chase Elliot getting into the top ten, and William Byron and Alex Bowman locking down the top 15. Going back to ovals will benefit them all greatly, so it’s safe to put these four drivers on your watch list for the weekend.
As for the Toyotas, they definitely have some of the most talented drivers who could challenge for the lead. Last year, Truex Jr. took first and second stage, only to lose the lead in the pit cycle. Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, Tyler Reddick and Truex Jr. are all proven race winners with an aim for more wins. Bubba Wallace and Ty Gibbs are also on the hunt for a win, could they capitalise on cautions and mistakes to take the trophy home?
Meanwhile for the Fords, as long as Joey Logano is driving, the 22 car will always be one of the favourites. The question for Logano would be if he could capitalise on the run of two consecutive top three finishes, and take the second win of the season. Can he overcome his inconsistencies that have been lingering throughout this season? If he could, we might be looking at the fifth multi-race winner of the season.