NASCAR Heads to Nashville to ‘boot-scoot and boogie’ in Music City

(Florida Sports Wire) – After soaking up the only off weekend of the season, the competitors in the NASCAR Cup Series prepare for one of the schedule’s most unique tracks in Nashville Superspeedway with this Sunday’s Ally 400 at 7 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). 

The D-shaped, concrete oval that stretches 1.33-miles, is the longest concrete surface track on the 2023 schedule and will have drivers and team dancing to find the perfect set-up in their cars for this weekend.

Construction of Nashville Superspeedway was completed in 2001 and the facility was originally owned by Dover Motorsports. The first NASCAR national series race held at Nashville Superspeedway was a NASCAR Xfinity Series event on April 14, 2001. 

The first Xfinity race at Nashville was won by Greg Biffle driving a Ford for RFK Racing. The first NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race at Nashville Superspeedway was on August 10, 2001 and was won by Scott Riggs driving a Dodge for truck owner Jim Smith. Nashville Superspeedway was purchased in 2021 and is currently owned and operated by Speedway Motorsports.

Nashville Superspeedway’s two NASCAR Cup Series events have produced two different race winners and two different pole winners. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola won the pole for the inaugural race in 2021 and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin won the pole for last season’s Nashville race. Almirola would go on to finish fourth in 2021 and Hamlin finished sixth last year.

In 2021, Nashville Superspeedway hosted the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at the 1.33-mile track, and the event was won by Hendrick Motorsport’s driver and 2021 series champion Kyle Larson. The California native took the win with a Margin of Victory of 4.335 seconds over Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain in second. The race produced 14 lead changes among seven different drivers. Larson led the most laps of the race, spending 264 of the scheduled 300 laps out front (88%).

Then last season, Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott took home the checkered flag at Nashville Superspeedway. The Dawsonville, Georgia native and 2020 series champion, held off 23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch by a scant .551-second to win. The 2022 Nashville Cup race saw 18 lead changes among seven different leaders. Polesitter Denny Hamlin led the most laps of the 2022 Nashville race with 114 circuits out front.

Crank-up the amplifiers and tune the guitars because NASCAR is rumbling into Tennessee’s Music City this weekend, and all the on-track Cup Series action begins with Practice at Nashville Superspeedway from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, June 23 on the USA Network. Then Busch Light Pole Qualifying is on Saturday, June 24 at 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET also on the USA Network.

Hendrick Motorsports looks for their third straight trip to Victory Lane at Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee must be a special place for the folks that work at Hendrick Motorsports, because all they do is win when come to Nashville Superspeedway. 

In the first two NASCAR Cup Series races held at Nashville Superspeedway, Rick Hendrick’s organization and Chevrolet has sent to different drivers to Victory Lane (Kyle Larson, 2021 and Chase Elliott, 2022), and this weekend will look for their third consecutive victory at the famous concrete 1.33-mile track.

Kyle Larson kicked off the Hendrick Motorsport’s fun at Nashville by not only winning the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway (2021), but he also celebrated winning the 2021 series championship in downtown Nashville as well.

Then last season, Chase Elliott followed up Larson’s victory with a win of his own at Nashville. Now the 27-year-old returns to the 1.33-mile track this weekend looking to go back-to-back and get his first win of the 2023 season. 

Defending a race win at a track is something Elliott has done twice among his 18 series career victories – at Watkins Glen International in 2018-2019 and Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course (2019-2020).

Race To The Playoffs: 10 races left in the regular season; Nashville up next

Coming from an off weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series teams are refreshed and focused on the different tasks each has in front of them with just 10 races left in the regular season. 

For the drivers and teams locked into the Playoffs already, these next 10 races are a great time to prepare for the postseason, pad Playoff points and set themselves up for the best possible position to finish the regular season. 

For the drivers and teams not locked into the Playoffs, these next 10 races are the final 10 chances they have to earn a spot in the coveted postseason. With 10 drivers in 2023 with wins, only six spot are still up for grabs in the 16-driver Playoff field as the series heads to Nashville Superspeedway this weekend for the Ally 400 (June 25 at 7 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. catapulted himself to the top of the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings following his second win of the season at Sonoma two weeks ago. 

The 42-year-old from New Jersey, is racing with a vengeance this season for having gone winless last year after stringing together a streak of seven consecutive seasons with wins in the series (2016-2021). Truex is one of 10 drivers this season currently holding a spot in the Playoffs by virtue of their regular season wins, he is joined by William Byron, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Tyler Reddick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The six drivers currently in Playoff transfer spot on points are Ross Chastain (+173 points up on postseason cutoff), Kevin Harvick (+172), Chris Buescher (+102), Brad Keselowski (+96), Bubba Wallace (+26) and Alex Bowman (+3).

Hendrick Motorsport’s Alex Bowman is currently in the most precarious position of the six drivers inside the Playoff cutoff heading into Nashville this weekend, because he is in the 16th and final transfer position on points. If a driver below him in the standings wins over the next 10 races, he could find himself bounced out of the Playoffs.

Bowman currently has just a three-point advantage on Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez who is in 17th – the first spot outside the Playoffs’ cutoff. Suarez is one of five drivers currently below the Playoffs cutline that made the Playoffs last season, he is joined by Austin Cindric (-39 points from the cutoff), Chase Elliott (-84), Austin Dillon (-108) and Chase Briscoe (-148).

For many drivers, this part of the season can be a turning point in the direction their year will take. Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers were one of those teams last season.

“The beginning of the year was rough – just a lot of concepts and things that didn’t really pay off or work out,” said Harvick of the 2022 season. “But when we went to Nashville, we had a practice session, we tried some things, and we ran really well in the race. That’s really when our season took a turn in the right direction, and we had a lot more confidence in the things that we were doing. So, as we went week-to-week, we kept getting a little bit better because our concepts and things were really in the direction that we needed to be headed.”

Of the drivers looking for their first NASCAR Cup Series win of the season, five have won previously at Nashville Superspeedway – Chase Elliott won last season’s Nashville Superspeedway Cup race, the four other drivers won in either the NASCAR Xfinity Series or the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series – Ryan Preece (2021, 2022 NCTS), Kevin Harvick (2006, 2010 NXS), Austin Dillon (2011 NCTS) and Brad Keselowski (2008, 2010 NXS).

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