He was in control of the race when a warning came out with nine laps to go and Elliott failed to pit from the lead for new tires. Nine other drivers stayed on the track with him to create a traffic jam that prevented the Toyotas from overtaking Elliott after they stopped for new tires.
Elliott pulled away at the restart, beating Kurt Busch – in a Toyota for 23XI Racing – by 0.551 seconds. Ryan Blaney was third in a Ford followed by Elliott’s teammate Kyle Larson, the defending race winner.
The JGR trio of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. fell to sixth, 21st and 22nd after the late decision to retire for tires prior to the final restart.
MIXED HENDRIK DAY
The race went badly for Hendrick Motorsports in a two-lap run shortly after it resumed after the early lightning delay.
William Byron went to the garage with a broken steering rack on his Chevrolet minutes after the race resumed, and one lap later Alex Bowman was seriously damaged when contact with Corey LaJoie caused him to slip.
Bowman mocked LaJoie’s talent on his team radio, while LaJoie asked his team to apologize to Bowman on his behalf. During an extended rain delay hours later, LaJoie posted on Twitter a T-shirt design that reads “Really Good Race Car Driver” to mimic Bowman’s insult.
But the damage was done for Bowman, who is sponsored by Ally, who has invested heavily in NASCAR’s return to the Nashville market. The company is the title sponsor for the Cup race and operates in several tourist spots in downtown Nashville.
Bowman had returned to the event hoping to improve on last year’s 14th place – which he found unacceptable due to Ally’s significant presence at the speedway. He finished last in the field of 36 cars.
BAD MOOD BUBBA
Bubba Wallace lost his temper with his 23XI Racing crew when he had to pit from sixth due to a loose wheel. He cursed his crew and then said he didn’t want to talk to them for the rest of the race.
“Leave the (expletive) alone,” he radioed to the No. 23 team. “Don’t talk to me for the rest of the race.”
Crew chief Bootie Barker tried to calm his driver, who was all over the map in Nashville. He was fastest in Friday practice but then qualified 30th with team co-owner Michael Jordan watching from the pits.
“We’re not sure,” Barker replied. “I know you are (angry) and you deserve to be.”
Wallace restarted 31st, the last car on the lead lap. He gathered to finish 12th.
NASCAR’s Cup Series races at the Road America circuit in Wisconsin for the third time. Elliott is the defending champion.
More AP car racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Jenna Fryer, The Associated Press