Alexandre Alvarez | NASCAR Digital Media
The sample size for those doing well at the Nashville Superspeedway is rather small. After all, the Cup Series only ran one race on the 1,333-mile layout. After an extended 50-minute practice session and qualifying on Saturday, not much had changed about who was expected to be fast and which teams had work to do.
Dustin Albino lineup for race day:
Writer 5: Martin Truex Jr.
Garage pick: Daniel Suarez
Next in the line: Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, Eric Almerola, and Christopher Bell.
to rise: Martin Truex Jr. This weekend he will be returning to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2023, so he can now focus solely on the competition. So far, so good in Nashville that the #19 car will take the green flag from #10, a huge improvement over the start of the 400-mile event at 35 last year.
Starting 30 doesn’t seem like a huge improvement, but Bubba Wallace had a massive catch in his qualifying career. In Friday’s practice session, Team #23 was topping the chart in the short and long term. It was a confidence booster for Wallace, and he’s no stranger to coming from behind, as he had a lot of trouble in 2022. After winning the pole, 23XI Racing co-owner Denny Hamlin said Wallace should be confident entering the race because He owns a fast car.
drop: Kyle Busch was the only car that had trouble qualifying when the #18 Toyota fell into a wall. Busch had a poorly controlled car in Nashville last year, and not much seems to have changed this time around. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see him do KFB stuff and get a good finish.
Almost every week this season, Tyler Reddick has had a speed capable of competing for race wins. Meanwhile, Team #8 is still looking for its first 16 checkered flag races of the year. His qualifying run for 16th place is among the worst of the year for the two-time Xfinity Series Champion.
Tyler Riddick vs. Austin Dillon:
Remember what I just said above? Yes, about that. Compared to two substitutes, Reddick has shown more outright speed this season and ranked in the top ten in practically 10-lap averages. If work is done in the outer race groove, the number 8 car can come back to life.
Ross Chastain vs. Daniel Suarez:
This is the hardest game of the week. Both Trackhouse drivers have a bunch of momentum and performed in the final round of qualifying on Saturday. However, Chastain is my pick to win the race, so it’s hard to bet on the first team.
Eric Almerola vs Kevin Harvick
Team Harvick has made a huge improvement from training to qualifying, and Sunday will be the first race since Martinsville Speedway that the #4 car has qualified inside the top 10. Points by 16 races – but car No. 10 has shown more speed on Nashville-style circuits this season, so Almerola is a surprising choice.
Kyle Larson vs. William Byron
Earlier in the week, this was probably a tougher option. But with Larson being practically fourth in one lap speed (granted, Byron finished fifth) and second on the best 10-lap average, the #5 car got the vote. Larson also started third and dominated the inaugural cup race in Nashville, driving 264 of 300 laps.