NASCAR: Ross Chastain wins from the pole at Nashville

Ross Chastain scored his first win of 2023 on Sunday night at Nashville.

Chastain passed Martin Truex Jr. on lap 267 of the 300-lap race and led the rest of the way to get the third win of his career. Chastain scored the first two wins of his Cup Series career a season ago at Circuit of the Americas and Talladega.

Chastain started first and led the most laps of any driver throughout Sunday’s race. He easily kept Truex at bay after taking the lead and a deft three-wide move in lapped traffic with 20 laps to go ensured that Truex couldn’t get close to his bumper.

While the win ensures Chastain will be a part of the playoff field this fall, he wasn’t missing the playoffs even had he gone winless. Chastain entered the race fourth in the points standings and was just 24 points behind Truex in first. Chastain was assuredly going to be a part of the postseason on points.

The most bizarre moment of the race came after Chastain won. Chase Briscoe ran into Chastain’s Trackhouse teammate Daniel Suarez as Suarez seemingly swerved right up the track to congratulate Chastain for his win.

Chastain has been the most polarizing driver in NASCAR since the start of the 2022 season because of his aggressive driving and he had been in a bit of a funk before his win. Since finishing fifth at Kansas in May, Chastain had finished 29th, 22nd, 22nd and 10th before the only off week in the Cup Series season.

"This is why every little kid out there anywhere in the world, when you get criticized, and you're going to if you're competitive, they will try to tear you down," Chastain said after the race. "You will start believing you can't do it."

"You have to go to your people, trust in the process, read your books, trust the big man's plan upstairs, just keep getting up and going to work. I got to tell you, a lot of self-reflection throughout all this. I had a group that believed in me and they didn't let me get down. They bring rocket ships and I just try to point them to victory lane."

Denny Hamlin was third while Chase Elliott was fourth and Kyle Larson was fifth. William Byron was sixth while Christopher Bell finished seventh ahead of Erik Jones, Kyle Busch and AJ Allmendinger in the top 10.

Ryan Blaney’s odd wreck

Ryan Blaney’s wreck into an inside wall was the oddest moment before the checkered flag. Blaney went sliding after getting hit by Kyle Busch on a restart after the field checked up behind Brad Keselowski. As Blaney seemed to try to get his car to spin around after it left the infield grass and hit the pit road pavement, the car didn’t snap around to the left and instead went head-on into the wall.

The wall Blaney hit was solid concrete and not protected by a SAFER barrier like the outside walls at the track. The crash once again made it clear that all exposed walls at NASCAR tracks need to have SAFER barriers to absorb crash impacts.

Blaney was checked and released from the infield care center after he took a moment to get out his car after the crash. He called the wreck the hardest hit of his career even though he wasn’t at anywhere close to full speed when he hit the wall.

Tyler Reddick's loose wheel

Tyler Reddick had one of the fastest cars in the first stage before a loose wheel ended his chances of a win in the second stage.

Reddick made a green-flag pit stop and his team didn’t get the right-rear wheel tight on his car. After Reddick recognized that the wheel wasn’t tight, he came back to pit road. As he slowed to get onto pit road, Reddick’s car started wobbling and he spun entering the pits and the wheel came off.

The incident caused a caution and sent Reddick to the back of the pack. His car was also damaged when the wheel came off and he finished two laps down in 30th.

Kevin Harvick finished 24th after he had to pit from the top 10 for a flat right-rear tire during the final green-flag pit stop of the race. Harvick could easily have finished in the top five if it wasn’t for the flat tire.

Race results

1. Ross Chastain

2. Martin Truex Jr.

3. Denny Hamlin

4. Chase Elliott

5. Kyle Larson

6. William Byron

7. Christopher Bell

8. Erik Jones

9. Kyle Busch

10. AJ Allmendinger

11. Brad Keselowski

12. Daniel Suarez

13. Austin Dillon

14. Ty Gibbs

15. Bubba Wallace

16. Ryan Preece

17. Alex Bowman

18. Chris Buescher

19. Joey Logano

20. Corey LaJoie

21. Harrison Burton

22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

23. Justin Haley

24. Kevin Harvick

25. Aric Almirola

26. Noah Gragson

27. Austin Cindric

28. Michael McDowell

29. JJ Yeley

30. Tyler Reddick

31. Chase Briscoe

32. Ty Dillon

33. Brennan Poole

34. Josh Bilicki

35. Todd Gilliland

36. Ryan Blaney