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Davison: Larson’s dominance continues at Nashville; his fourth Cup win in a row

Nashville, TN, June 20/21 (by John Davison): Kyle Larson won the Ally 400 in his now-typical dominant 2021 fashion, starting in fifth, leading 264 of the 300 laps, stretched his last tank of fuel and overcame debris blocking the radiator on the way to a 4.335 second victory over Ross Chastain in front of a sell-out crowd at Nashville Superspeedway's inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race. Larson's win is his third points win in a row, plus the All-Star and three previous finishes in second place.

Just two laps into the race, the first of eleven caution flags flew when Quinn Houff slammed into the first turn wall. Kyle Larson jumped into the lead on the restart after Kyle Busch had led the first few yellow-flag laps.

Ryan Blaney crashed on lap 56 when a brake rotor shattered, commenting later: "It was not a very good start to our day and not a good end, either. We had an issue before the race and had to come and fix it. Then we had some brake trouble and we came in and pulled tape, and then on the restart I'm not sure if I broke a rotor -- I think that's what happened because something exploded into [turn] one and then no brakes and took a pretty big lick." Earlier, Blaney's wheels had been almost completely black with brake dust when he made a pit stop.

On lap 79, near simultaneous right-front tire failures sent both Justin Haley and Chris Buescher into the first turn wall in a replay of the Blaney crash, Buescher commenting: "My feelings are hurt right now more than anything. We were just getting going there, but right before I left pit road it looks like probably a piece of debris from the 77 cut our tire down on the way into the corner."

Early in the second Stage, Darrell (‘Bubba’) Wallace spin brought out the yellow flag again on lap 133. Again it was with Larson ahead of Busch after the restart, until Ricky Stenhouse Jr got around Busch for second, with Busch falling out of contact with the second-place runner and Denny Hamlin closing and taking third from his teammate but a bobble dropped the No. 11 back with Almirola moving ahead and into fourth.

After a caution for debris on the track, Larson powered around Chase Briscoe into the lead to take his twelfth Stage win of the season, followed by Austin Dillon, Briscoe, William Byron and Kyle Busch.

Larson and Byron led at the restart for the final Stage, driving away from the field with Denny Hamlin getting around Busch and Chase Elliott moving up to fifth as Busch lost the handle on the car and began to fall back. Friday's Truck Series winner Ryan Preece spun with a flat right front tire, Larson and Byron at the front of the field at the green, with Byron almost spinning but reining in the No. 24. Elliott moved into third but Kyle Busch continued to fade, dropping back to the rear of the pack, losing position after position.

Kyle Larson's car picked up several pieces of paper on the grill but he pulled up behind JJ Yeley's car and got rid of the blockages before going back to fuel-savings mode, trying to get to the finish of the race without needing another pit stop. A number of cars were forced to make pit stops during the closing laps to top up with fuel – but Larson kept going to the checker and he still had enough gas for a big burn-out in front of the packed grandstands.. Byron ran second, with Harvick and Elliott next; Almirola got around Elliott into fourth.

After the race, NASCAR found loose lug nuts on Chase Elliott’s car and it was disqualified and scored in last place. Chad Knaus, now VP of Competition for Hendrick said, “There were quite a few tire issues through the course of the day so they were hopeful that it was just a cord or something in the tire that was creating the vibration so they chose to run the race out. It’s unfortunate that the lug nuts vibrated loose on the left rear and now we are sitting here with a disqualification for the 9 team.”

Elliott had won the first Stage and finished seventh in the second Stage but he was deleted from the official results of both Stages, denying him the Stage points he had earned.

Larson Said, "It was a great day. We never really had to run behind people, so I don't know. If one of my teammates got out front again it probably would have been hard to pass them. This Valvoline Chevrolet was really good. It 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. This crowd is awesome!

The next NASCAR Cup race will be held next Saturday, June 26 as the first half of a Cup double-header at Pocono Raceway.

• Click HERE for the Race Results


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