By Dustin Albino

LEBANON, Tenn. — Over the last month of competition in the NASCAR Cup Series, no team is hotter than the No. 19 crew. That stretch of good finished continued in Sunday’s Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway.

From his sixth starting position, Truex was a solid fourth-place car in the opening stage. Wile Tyler Reddick and Ross Chastain scooted away to a big advantage over the field, the No. 19 car and William Byron were the only drivers that could remain close.

Truex controlled a good portion of the second stage, and was one of three drivers to lead at least 50 laps on the evening. The others were Chastain, who led a race-high 99 circuits and Truex’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, pacing he field for 81 laps.

With the duration of the final stage being run under the green flag, Truex battled both Chastain and Hamlin. He felt battling the No. 11 Toyota was a hinderance in ultimately winning the race.

“It was all dirty air,” Truex said of not being able to pass Hamlin for the lead during the final stage. “I had the faster car, for sure. I could drop back 10 car lengths, get back to three and then just done. It‘s frustrating but he was doing what he had to do.

“Ultimately, it costed us the race. If one of us could have got away there, it would have been over. We let [Chastain] catch us and that was the race.”

After making his final pit stop, Truex closed within a few car lengths of Chastain. He couldn’t, however, capture the lead, and the No. 1 Chevrolet pulled away to win by more than three-quarters of a second over the No. 19 car.

“I could hang with whoever was leading. Just could never get off the corner good enough to get a move,” Truex noted. “Just lacking side bite. Overall just burning the rear tires off too much.

“Just really loose at the end of the race there as well. Just needed a little bit. Got lots of speed.”

Still, Truex’s 51 points was the second-highest total for any driver in the race. He extended his regular season championship lead by five points and is now 18 markers ahead of Byron and Chastain.

“If we extended it, it’s always good,” Truex added. “A lot of points at the end of the regular season to get that, a lot of bonus points. We’ll take all we can.”

Dating back to a third-place finish at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Truex has four straight top-five finishes. That matches his total amount of top fives from the entire 2022 season. It’s also the most top fives he’s had in a row since he earned a career-high eight straight during the middle of he 2020 season.

Truex believes the No. 19 team is hitting on all cylinders.

“The cars are good, the team is doing a good job and the pit crew is doing a good job as well,” he stated. “Execute and doing all we need to. We came up a little short tonight, but proud of our speed and execution.”

The series heads to the Chicago Street Course next week, and though it’s nothing similar to Sonoma Raceway, Truex is the most recent winner on a road course.

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