With Nashville in the middle of a heat wave, this NASCAR Nashville Superspeedway weekend was heating up before the races even began. The BRCC drivers battled a heat index of 100, setting the stage for a variety of heat-related issues. But from the truck series on Friday, June 24, to Saturday’s Xfinity Series, to the Cup on Sunday, Matt Crafton, Noah Gragson, and Ty Dillon all held their own.
Prior to the 2021 season, the speedway sat unused for 10 years. The 2022 race season is the first under the new owners, Speedway Motorsports, and the second year of hosting the Ally 400 for the NASCAR Cup Series.
Hot one pic.twitter.com/t5NkAoIRcS— Noah Gragson (@NoahGragson) June 26, 2022
Matt Crafton, BRCC’s Camping World Truck Series driver, kicked off the weekend with the Rackley Roofing 200 race on Friday. Currently in 10th place in the 2022 series, Crafton holds 379 points for the season.
Crafton held the second-fastest position after the practice race, with a speed of 155.885 mph. Once Friday’s Rackley Roofing 200 kicked off, Crafton battled to stay in the top 10, with a few adjustments in the last 22 laps of the Final Stage clearing the way for him to claim 10th position and earn 29 points for the race.
Gragson drove in the Tennessee Lottery 250 Xfinity Series Race on Saturday with the Xfinity camera on his car, which revealed just how intense the heat inside the cars was — during the opening laps, he and the other drivers faced around 104 degrees, and the temperature rose to 135 over the course of the race.
After qualifying in the sixth position, Gragson had to deal with a worsening loose condition — this occurs when the rear tires of the car have difficulty sticking in the corners — which caused him to drop to ninth position in the first 10 laps of Stage One. Throughout Stage Two and the final stage, Gragson moved up to fourth, but he eventually fell back down to 10th position. The race, totalling 188 laps around the 1.33-mile oval, saw Gragson rally with the free-pass position over the final 20 laps. This position, also called the Lucky Dog, allows the driver of the next lapped car behind the leader to gain back a lap during a caution flag.
Well... hot ass day! Threw up on myself twice with about 50 to go inside the racecar. 135°+ in the car. No bueno. Gambled on strategy and didn't workout. Proud of our group @JRMotorsports. Congrats @J_Allgaier on the dub.— Noah Gragson (@NoahGragson) June 25, 2022
“Well… hot ass day! Threw up on myself twice with about 50 to go inside the racecar,” Gragson tweeted after finishing 13th overall. “135°+ in the car. No bueno. Gambled on strategy and didn’t workout. Proud of our group @JRMotorsports. Congrats @J_Allgaier on the dub.”
Despite the heat and vomiting twice in his car, Gragson did manage to maintain a top-10 standing for the majority of the race. But after a gamble on heading to the pit, he ended up finishing in 13th. Even so, Gragson remains in second for the Xfinity Series playoff standings.
“We were a little loose at the start and got better, and then we got a touch to the tight side,” Gragson said. “[Crew chief Luke Lambert] fixed me up, and we took a gamble today that, if it had worked out, would have seen a big reward for our Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee team, but it didn’t work out. We’ll take what we learned here and head on to Road America next week to go for another victory.”
Photo by Lauren Warner/BRCC Blog
The Ally 400, Ty Dillon’s race in No. 42, saw him starting in 29th position. The race had barely started when, 41 laps in, it was put in red-flag conditions as a lightning storm rolled in. This first red flag lasted an hour, and the drivers made it to lap 139 before lightning struck again. The second time, the track got wet, so it was a nearly two-hour wait before the track was dry enough for the drivers to get the green flag once more.
The lightning storms weren’t the only wrench thrown in the race — in the middle of Stage One of Sunday’s race, Ty Dillon got caught by fellow driver Chase Briscoe in a crash. However, Dillon (and Briscoe) were able to drive off from the crash and continue on in the race. Dillon finished the race in 31st place, and is in 26th overall for the Cup Series with 276 points.
Where to find the drivers next: Matt Crafton is headed to the Pocono Raceway on July 23 for the CRC Brakleen 150; Noah Gragson heads to Wisconsin for Road America’s Henry 180 on Tuesday, July 2; and Ty Dillon will be in Wisconsin for the Kwik Trip 250 presented by Jockey on July 3.