Fortunes Raise Nashville’s Final Warning Flag, Varying Pit Stop Decisions

A warning flag with eight laps to go in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway brought out more than the yellow flag. It brought up the age-old NASCAR question: spunk or not?

Strategies varied across the field and ultimately results varied for both those who stayed out and those who went into the pit lane for new tires prior to the final restart.

Comparison Graphics Function Main

Comparison Graphics Function Main

Here’s a look at the results of several drivers who were able to win on Sunday – either before the warning fell or after.

You can also use our “Compare” function in Race Center for additional information between any two drivers in the field.

LAKE: Driver comparison from Nashville

Chase Elliot

Yellow Flag position: First
Decision: Stay out
Position after pit stops: First
Finish: Winner
Remark: Elliott said after the race that it was crew chief Alan Gustafson’s call to do, and Gustafson chose to keep the No. 9 Chevrolet on the track and maintain the lead. Several of the best cars behind Elliott entered the pits, but enough other drivers stayed out to make it difficult for those with new tires to drive back through the field and challenge Elliott for the win in the final four laps.

“I let Alan do his thing,” Elliott said. “He lets me do my thing, so I let him do his thing and I’m confident in that. It doesn’t do me any good not to do that. If I start questioning his decisions, I feel like we’re going down a path that is not favorable to success he has had a lot of respect for me and let me do my job and let me approach things in a pretty unique way and be a little bit myself so i always respected him and let him do his thing and had just trust whatever that decision is.”

RELATED: Full race results

Kyle Busch

Yellow Flag Position: Second
Decision: Pit for tires
Position after pit stops: 11th
Finish: 21st
Remark: Busch was the best running driver to pit for tires but lost another 10 places after the green flag. His No. 18 Toyota was directly behind an incident involving Brad Keselowski in the ensuing restart, and the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was unable to compete for the win. He led 54 laps but lost 20 positions in the last 10 laps.

Denny Hamlin

Yellow Flag Position: Third
Decision: Pit for tires
Position after pit stops: 12th
Finish: Sixth
Remark: Hamlin started from the Busch Light Pole position and led a race-high for 114 laps. He finished best of the Joe Gibbs Racing trio – including Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. — who draw late from the top five.

Martin Truex Jr.

Yellow Flag position: Fourth
Decision: Pit for tires
Position after pit stops: 14th
Finish: 22nd
Remark: Truex led 82 laps, but problems on the final restart had the No. 19 Toyota outside the top 20 when the checkered flag dropped.

Kurt Busch

Yellow Flag position: Sixth
Decision: Stay out
Position after pit stops: Second
Finish: Second
Remark: The decision to stay out put Kurt Busch in the front row for the final restart. While he couldn’t catch Chase Elliott for the lead, he held off the rest of the field for second which the veteran lamented after the race.

“I went soft on him,” Busch told NBC Sports. “I should have thrown some fenders and got some momentum. I didn’t stick with our strength. … I wanted to throw some fenders, but I couldn’t get the job done. Everyone on the team will smile, but I disappointed them. I should have come up with a better plan.”

Ryan Blaney

Yellow Flag position: Ninth
Decision: Stay out
Position after pit stops: Third
Finish: Third
Remark: “Jonathan (Hassler) made a good decision to stay away from the last stop,” Blaney said in a tip of the cap to his crew chief after achieving a top-five finish. “Why not, he was ninth and could run in third, so that was a good decision on his part.”

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