Nashville Superspeedway Hosts Cup Debut as Race Track Reopens | News, Sports, Jobs

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FILE – In this April 3, 2010 file photo, Kevin Harvick takes the checkered flag at the finish line to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Nashville 300 auto race at Nashville Superspeedway in Gladeville, Tenn. The track which had been closed for a decade will host its very first Cup race on Sunday, June 20, 2021. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey, File)

Erik Moses attended his first NASCAR race in 2019 as an XFL executive looking for marketing ideas on a trip to Dover International Raceway. A year later, Dover poached Moses and sent him to Tennessee to reopen the Nashville Superspeedway.

Moses, hired last August, will open the doors this weekend to a track that has been dormant since Carl Edwards won the 21st and final Xfinity Series race of the 2011 season.

Best of all, Moses will welcome a sold-out crowd of around 40,000 spectators on Sunday when the first NASCAR Cup Series debuts at the Nashville Superspeedway.

It will be a watershed moment for Dover Motorsports, which opened the Concrete Oval in 2001 in search of a coveted Cup race. After a decade of hosting only NASCAR minor leagues and eight IndyCar races, the company has given up on trying the big show.

“We didn’t build this track in 2001 to simply house Trucks and Xfinity. It was built for the Cup ”, Moses said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Why haven’t we been able to attract a Cup race for 20 years, frankly I don’t know, and I don’t care. My job is to make this trail that we have now showcase this market to America’s best drivers and turn this facility into a beloved institution. “

The Cup Series has not raced in the Nashville area since 1984, when Geoff Bodine won the last event of the first series held at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. Its comeback comes as Nashville has emerged as motorsport’s hottest market.

The city hosted the annual Cup Series awards ceremony in 2019 and NASCAR reintroduced itself to Nashville with a “Burnouts on Broadway” exhibition in the heart of the entertainment district. IndyCar will return to the city in August for a street race that will cross the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, and Speedway Motorsports is trying to bring NASCAR back to the fairgrounds.

“It’s pretty interesting how everyone is doing in Nashville, focusing on Nashville as a great place, and I think that’s a long time coming. “ said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will be on the broadcast team this weekend as NBC Sports begins its portion of the NASCAR TV package. Earnhardt has also recently joined the group supporting the IndyCar event.

Is it too much racing for one market?

“Physically they are all different and will offer a different style of racing and a different style of entertainment. “ Earnhardt said. “The city has a lot of energy. When we were there doing the burnout on the boulevard, I was upstairs in one of those buildings looking out the window and it was as clear as the day it was. a great relationship and a great partnership.

“It was just normal, it wasn’t even new. It was like an old friend and boyfriend that you hadn’t hung out with for a long, long time.

Dover made a substantial investment to finally clinch their Cup race. The company moved one of its two annual races from its Delaware track to secure its Cup date and was rewarded with a four-year sanction agreement from NASCAR.

Dover has pledged more than $ 8 million for capital improvements, which Moses says includes a massive fiber-optic installation for wireless capacity on the highway, added barriers SAFER, a luxury suite complex. renovated, field care center and media center. New asphalt was also poured on the road course and the infield apron. There is a new coat of paint and new lighting and sound systems.

“If you left your house lifeless for 10 years, you would have a lot to do before inviting your friends and family. “ said Moses.

Justin Marks, owner of Trackhouse Racing and resident of Nashville, saw the track ahead of the NASCAR Triple Weekend. He is also part of the group promoting IndyCar racing and his vision for Trackhouse is to relocate the team to Nashville and operate out of the entertainment district by the 2023 season.

Marks said he believed the superspeedway, even though it was located around 30 miles from downtown, could be successful.

“The speedway needs to be touted and marketed as a little more of a destination, it’s not that far away that it can’t be a ‘Nashville event’ and that is demonstrated by the fact that they have sold every ticket, sold every suite and they sold the sponsorship inventory ”, Marks told AP. “It’s been there for a long time, it’s been quiet for a while, but it’s really a NASCAR place and for the show to put on a good show – all the tools are there to make it happen.”

Moses used the slogan “The cup celebrates” to promote NASCAR superstars who are racing the superspeedway for the first time. He found that it works because the ardent fan understands the importance of Cup races on the speedway, but the casual fan only knows the stars.

He is convinced, however, that the market is hungry for the race and the chance to see the biggest names in person.

“People understand that the best American drivers are in NASCAR and we are bringing them here for the first time in 37 years, which is truly unfathomable for this market and a place so deeply connected to our sport and one that truly loves cars. and automotive culture ”, said Moses, the first and only black track president in NASCAR.

“Apparently everyone here on the Nashville freeways wants to be a NASCAR driver by the way they pass me on the freeway, whether it’s in a Prius or a van. It’s a top city and we want to deliver a product that these fans deserve and expect. “

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