Sport Nashville boasts history of first-time Xfinity winners as series returns Saturday
Track-by-track updates, protocols for grandstand seating and fan access as COVID-19 restrictions ease
Restrictions on fans’ access to NASCAR races are beginning to lift. The gradual reopening has progressed as vaccination numbers continue to rise and local and state officials alter their COVID-19 regulations in accordance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. Several tracks that had hosted races with limited numbers of fans in attendance have announced […]On June 1, NASCAR officials announced that garage operations would largely return to pre-COVID norms and that several protocols would be discontinued, beginning with the NASCAR All-Star Race weekend June 12-13. And six NASCAR tracks announced June 2 that grandstands would fully reopen for their races later in the season.
There is an understandable excitement as NASCAR visits new venues, and this week‘s Nashville Superspeedway is a track many NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers have long had circled on the schedule.
Not only is the 1.33-mile concrete oval a new test for most of the field, Nashville has a history of crowning first-time race winners in the Xfinity Series. Half of the 14 previous race winners — including names such as Greg Biffle, Jason Leffler, Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski — hoisted their first series trophy in Nashville.
NASCAR returns to Nashville: Inside the Music City's racing renaissance and what the Cup Series' return means
After 10 years and a fight to save racing in Nashville, NASCAR's return to the Music City signals a bright future for racing in the marketFor over a century, Nashville has been one of the most prominent hubs of stock car racing in all the United States, and has enjoyed one of the deepest symbiotic relationships that NASCAR has had with any market. A long list of drivers have come from the Middle Tennessee area, including some names that are instantly recognizable: NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip, two-time Daytona 500 champion Sterling Marlin, and former Truck Series champion Bobby Hamilton are just some of many drivers proudly pointed to as Nashville's own.
The Tennessee Lottery 250 (Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) may again add to that legacy. There are certainly some big names ready to make their first trip to Victory Lane in 2021. Six of the 12 drivers currently inside the playoff bubble are still looking for their first win of the season.
In Daniel Hemric‘s case, he‘s looking for his first career win in any of NASCAR‘s three national series. So, Nashville‘s tendency to celebrate new winners must be especially encouraging for the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He‘s coming off a fourth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway last week — his first top-10 in a four-race period. He led a season-high 105 laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway three weeks ago only to crash and finish 28th.
Camping World Truck Series drivers looking to rebound in NASCAR's Nashville return
Nashville Superspeedway is a familiar venue for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the track having hosted 14 races between 2001-11. But Friday night‘s Rackley Roofing 200 (8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be a new ball game for most of the drivers in the field. RELATED: Full weekend schedule […]There will be a practice and qualifying session Friday prior to the green flag. There are no defending winners entered, and only six Truck Series regulars have competed previously at the 1.33-mile track — Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Norm Benning, Parker Kligerman and Clay Greenfield.
He did have a top-five run at the 1.366-mile Darlington Raceway in May — a track of nearly the same length as this week‘s Nashville track.
JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier won at Darlington this May in an epic battle between himself and teammate Josh Berry in the closing laps. And Allgaier is one of eight drivers entered this week who has competed at Nashville previously. He has three top-five finishes in six Nashville starts, including a fourth place in the last race held there in 2011.
One of his JR Motorsports teammates, Noah Gragson, would certainly love to notch his first victory in what has been an extremely frustrating season. The driver of the No. 9 JRM Chevrolet rebounded last week from a tough spring stretch — scoring a seventh-place finish at Texas. It was the perennial championship contender‘s first top-10 in a five-week span that included three DNFs.
The last time Gragson led a race was at Darlington — his 40 laps out front were a race high on the day. He finished fourth, and these kind of numbers are surely encouraging for this week‘s stop.
NASCAR Xfinity Series at Nashville odds, picks: 2021 Tennessee Lottery 250 predictions from proven model
SportsLine simulated the 2021 Tennessee Lottery 250 10,000 timesWith three victories this season, Austin Cindric leads the Xfinity Series points standings and is at +500 in the 2021 Tennessee Lottery 250 odds from William Hill Sportsbook. Kyle Busch is the favorite at -130, with Justin Allgaier also at +500 among the top NASCAR Xfinity Series at Tennessee contenders. Before making any 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series at Nashville predictions, be sure to see the latest 2021 Tennessee Lottery 250 picks from SportsLine's proven projection model.
“I‘ve never raced at the superspeedway but we‘ve spent some time in the sim and luckily, we get a little bit of practice this weekend to learn the track and to make the right adjustments for the race,” Gragson said. “A part of me wishes we went straight into the race, but I know (crew chief) Dave (Elenz) and this entire No. 9 team will bring a fast Camaro and hopefully we can compete for the win.”
Allgaier and Gragson can certainly expect a challenge from another teammate. Berry is a Tennessee native and would love to earn a victory at Nashville this week. The same is true for championship leader Austin Cindric, who boasts a series-best 10 top-five finishes and more than 100-point advantage over second place A.J. Allmendinger in the standings, but who had his worst finish of the year (30th) on the similarly-sized Darlington track in May.
And then there‘s the big picture storyline: Kyle Busch‘s chance at earning a historic 100th NASCAR Xfinity Series victory. The two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion scored win No. 99 last weekend in Texas and is easily the most successful driver at the Nashville track for this weekend‘s event.
He won the 2009 Xfinity race from pole position leading 173 of the 225 laps. He also won from pole position in both of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career starts there (2010 and 2011). He led 131 of the 150 laps for the 2010 victory and led a dominating 140 of the 150 laps in his win the next the year.]]>
Road America entry lists for Cup, Xfinity .
A look at who is entered for this weekend's NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series events at Road America.Forty cars are entered for the event, which will have practice and qualifying before Sunday’s race.