Nashville Superspeedway Marks Much-Needed Turning Point

Getty Erik Jones practices at Nashville Superspeedway.

The NASCAR race weekend at Nashville was huge for Ross Chastain as he won his first race of the year and punched his ticket back to the playoffs. It was also significant for some other drivers that have dealt with struggles in 2023.

Erik Jones and Legacy Motor Club is a fitting example. The Southern 500 winner in 2022, the driver of the No. 43 Chevrolet entered the 2023 season with an opportunity to ride his momentum to the playoffs. Instead, he has only secured two top-10 finishes — one at Talladega Superspeedway and one at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The race weekend at Nashville Superspeedway was a different story. Jones had the fourth-fastest car in practice and then he ran inside the top 10 throughout the Ally 400. He ultimately crossed the finish line eighth overall in what was his first top-10 away from a superspeedway.

“It was a good day. We had a good No. 43 Allegiant Chevy,” Jones said after the race. “We were able to run up towards the top 10 all day, so just need to build on that. If you can be up there and running competitively, it gives you something to work on.

“Today was the first day in a while that I felt like we were in the ballpark and where we need to be, so that’s a good step. I’m proud of the effort, for sure. We’re getting the cars better and where we want them to be, and hopefully just get them a little bit more moving forward.”

Jones was not the only driver with a much-needed strong finish. AJ Allmendinger finished 10th overall while Chase Elliott finished fourth as he tries to bounce back from missing seven of the first 17 races.

Allmendinger’s Weekend Consisted of Success

GettyCup Series drivers race at the Ally 400.

Allmendinger’s return to the Cup Series has been a work in progress. He kicked off the year with a sixth-place finish in the Daytona 500, but he failed to crack the top 10 again until the June race at Sonoma Raceway. Allmendinger also had three DNFs due to crashes.

Allmendinger’s weekend began with a standout performance. He competed in the Xfinity Series race at Nashville Superspeedway, and he took the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro to Victory Lane after leading 25 laps.

Allmendinger then delivered a much-needed performance for Kaulig Racing in the Cup Series race. He qualified 19th overall in the No. 16 Chevrolet Camaro, and he secured bonus points in the first two stages after consistently running inside of the top 10.

Allmendinger ultimately crossed the finish line 10th overall in what was his third top-10 of the season. He was set for a ninth-place finish, but Kyle Busch passed him before crossing the finish line.

“We had a really good day,” Allmendinger said after the race. “Our car was really balanced all day; we didn’t have to make adjustments. We just couldn’t get the track positions and we lost spots on pit road and had to make up for it.

“At the end of the day, that probably cost up three or four spots overall. I’m proud of the team. We are making a lot of progress, we had a lot of speed all weekend. I’m looking forward to going to a street course here to hopefully make up some more ground.”

Elliott Inched Closer To the Playoff Cutline

GettyChase Elliott watches qualifying at Nashville Superspeedway.

Elliott’s season has been a whirlwind. He missed six races early after fracturing his tibia in a snowboarding accident and then another while serving a one-race suspension for intentionally hooking Denny Hamlin into the outside wall at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

These absences dropped Elliott outside of the top 30 in points, and it put him in a must-win position. However, he has steadily moved his way up the leaderboard with some strong performances.

Elliott finished seventh at Kansas Speedway, third at Darlington Raceway, fifth at Sonoma Raceway, and fourth at Nashville Superspeedway. He is now 25th in the standings and 64 points behind the playoff cutline. Elliott still faces a hurdle, but he is moving closer to his ultimate goal of reaching the playoffs.

“It was solid, but we still needed a little bit,” Elliott said. “I actually thought we were the best at the start of the race and then we kind of got off there in the mid-stage and I think we basically just kind of got back to where we were and everyone else got a little better.

“But yeah, proud of the effort and to get two top-fives in a row is a good thing for us. Trying to get things going, so we will try again in Chicago.”

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