New venues require a couple of years to determine exactly how they should be handicapped. It requires listening to drivers and analysts, but most importantly, we want to see where the race results fit in reference to other tracks. Nashville Superspeedway was generally considered a rough surface track before the Ally 400 was run.
Without heavy media coverage of practice and qualification, we did not hear a lot about the track or get too many comparisons from the drivers. With mini-sessions of practice coming in 2022, pay very close attention to the tracks they reference and base your picks off that information.
One year of reference is inconclusive and early indications are mixed as to whether Nashville should be linked with Darlington Raceway, Dover International Speedway and the paved version of Bristol Motor Speedway.
Three drivers showed a lot of consistency on these four combined courses. Kyle Larson can be discounted because he ran strong everywhere, but it is still marginally notable that he finished either first or second in five races on them.
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The other two drivers are a little more interesting. Kevin Harvick did not run consistently well during the season, but his results on these four tracks were all sixth or better and all but one of his last 14 events on them have been that strong.
William Byron is the other driver who almost swept the top five on rough-surfaced tracks. If not for a crash two-thirds of the way through the Southern 500 at Darlington, he probably would have at least finished in the top 10 instead of 34th.
Five drivers backed up their strong Nashville run with an equally strong effort at Darlington, which is another mild indicator of the comparative nature of these courses.
But there are also a couple of drivers who should have run well on this course, considering their record on the other three rough-surfaced tracks, who did not score strong results. In a race with eight DNFs, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. finished a lap off the pace in 21st and 22nd respectively.
Chase Elliott saw a streak of three consecutive rough-surfaced top-10s end after he pitted late, developed a vibration when the team did not secure all the lugnuts, and crossed under the checkers 13th. He was disqualified for the loose nut and scored last. The hits kept coming because he crashed at Darlington and was doored at Bristol by Harvick before losing laps in both events.
The excitement engendered from a new track persists, however. Nashville Superspeedway will continue to have that new track feel in 2022, which means that Young Guns believe they have a shot at scoring top-10s. The inaugural race backs them up as Ross Chastain finished second with +8000 odds. Chase Briscoe (+50000 or +500/1) led five of 300 laps before crashing, while Daniel Suarez (+30000) and Christopher Bell (+5000) scored top-10s.
Not exactly a newbie, Aric Almirola finished fourth after starting the week prior to the Ally 400 with +20000 odds. Harvick was listed at +1300, meaning three of the top-five finishers were above the 10/1 mark. Sixth-place Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was +15000 with Suarez in seventh extended that trend.
There should be some value picks for top-fives in 2022 as well.
June 26, Ally 400
1: Kyle Larson
None: 1 previous race
None: Earliest = Kyle Larson – 10th
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Atlanta Motor Speedway
Auto Club Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway (dirt)
Charlotte Motor Speedway (oval)
Dover International Speedway
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Las Vegas Motor Speedway
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