The NASCAR Cup Series rolls into Music City this weekend for the first time since 1984 as it makes its inaugural appearance at Nashville Superspeedway on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Fresh to the Cup schedule, the 1.33-mile concrete oval is no stranger to NASCAR. There’s plenty of history to dive into, so turn up the tunes and get ready for something fresh from Music City, USA.
The inaugural 300-lap Cup race at Nashville Superspeedway will be held in front of a sold-out, full-capacity crowd of 38,000 people this Sunday, marking the first full-capacity sellout since fans have been allowed back to the stands following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is an incredible milestone and shows all the progress we as a society and a sport have made against COVID-19,” said track president Erik Moses via the facility’s website. “It also shows us how eager race fans in this area are to see the return of the NASCAR Cup Series.”
The track will still heavily encourage unvaccinated fans to wear face masks at all times except when eating or drinking while the facility enhances its cleaning process. Fans should also note that coolers will not be permitted, “reducing the need to search them as part of the admission process.”
Just as they did at Nashville’s counterpart in Dover, Delaware, teams will utilize the 750-horsepower, low-downforce package this weekend. This package features shorter rear spoilers and front splitters.
Drivers Christopher Bell, Kurt Busch and Chase Briscoe participated in two Goodyear tire tests to help provide input for the inaugural Cup event on this concrete surface, first on a “green” racetrack and again on a prepped track sprayed with resin, which will be utilized this weekend. Additionally, the tire dragon was used to rubber in the track.
Goodyear will utilize the same left-side tires used at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway as well as the same right-side tires used at Dover International Speedway. According to Goodyear, the tread compound on the right-side is designed to lay rubber on concrete and create the opportunity for side-by-side racing.
“The first time we got on track, obviously the surface had not been raced on in some time so tire wear was fairly heavy,” Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing, said. “It was decided that the track could use some prep work to help the surface take rubber and create multiple grooves. We locked in on our tire set-up with known tire codes – the left-side that teams have run recently at both Kansas and Charlotte, with our Dover right-side. That right-side tire has proven to work very well on the concrete surface at Dover, and we expect much the same at Nashville.”
Teams will get 10 sets of Goodyear Eagles to use Sunday, as well as three sets for practice and one for qualifying.
PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING
Since Nashville is new to the Cup circuit, the series will practice and qualify this weekend. The lone practice will be held Saturday at 2:05 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and qualifying will be held Sunday at 11:05 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) ahead of the race.
NASCAR HISTORY AT NASHVILLE
— Nashville Superspeedway opened in 2001 and immediately began hosting a plethora of different series, including the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck series events through 2011.
— At 1.33 miles, Nashville will become the longest concrete track to host a Cup Series race.
— Twelve drivers on Sunday’s entry list have made starts at Nashville Superspeedway, led by David Starr at 13 (12 NCWTS, one NXS), followed by Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski who each have 12 starts (10 NXS, two NCWTS).
— Kyle Busch has four wins at Nashville (one NXS, three NCWTS) while Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski each hold two Nashville Xfinity victories. Austin Dillon has one Truck Series triumph and Joey Logano has one Xfinity win as well.
— From 1958-1984, NASCAR competed at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, where Richard Petty is the all-time wins leader with nine victories, followed by Darrell Waltrip (eight) and Cale Yarborough (seven).
— The Cup Series championship banquet was held in Nashville in 2019, beginning a campaign to bring the sport back to the Music City.
— In June 2020, Dover Motorsports Inc., which owns Nashville Superspeedway, announced plans to shift one of its Dover dates to Nashville for the 2021 season.
Data provided by Racing Insights
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THE BETTING FAVORITES
Unsurprisingly, Kyle Larson remains Las Vegas’ No. 1 man as the series shifts to Nashville, with BetMGM listing Larson as the favorite at 11-4 odds (as of Tuesday). Behind him are Martin Truex Jr. at 11-2 odds, Chase Elliott at 15-2 and a pair of Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, at 8-1.
Hendrick Motorsports dominated at the last concrete oval in Dover, but Nashville is notably different in layout and features the on-track resin that wasn’t present at Dover in May.
Betting against HMS is likely ill-advised, but Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney has shown recent speed and may be worth a gamble at 15-1 odds this weekend.
NASHVILLE STORY LINES
— Chase Elliott has won two of the last three races at new venues, including the Daytona International Speedway road course in August 2020 and Circuit of the Americas in May.
— The last Cup winner on a newly-introduced paved oval to the schedule was Kyle Busch when Kentucky Speedway welcomed the Cup Series in 2011.
— The last time NASCAR raced in Nashville, Geoff Bodine went to Victory Lane at Fairgrounds Speedway in 1984, handing car owner Rick Hendrick his second career victory.
— Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have finished 1-2 in each of the last three races. In each of the 11 previous times this feat has happened, one of those two drivers won the championship. The last time this happened was 1998 between Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon.
— Kyle Larson won the last NASCAR Cup Series race held on Father’s Day in June 2017 at Michigan International Speedway.
Data provided by Racing Insights
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