The ARCA Menards Series returns to Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville for the fifth consecutive year for the General Tire Music City 200 presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions on Saturday, May 4. The 200-lap main event, scheduled for a 9 pm ET/8 pm CT green flag, will be preceded by a 100-lap super late model event co-sanctioned by the ARCA/CRA Super Series, the Southern Super Series, and the CARS Tour.
The event, promoted by long-time ARCA partner Track Enterprises, will serve as the season opener for the historic five-eighths mile oval. Two previously scheduled events were canceled due to inclement weather. Should weather become an issue on Saturday, a raindate of Sunday, May 5 has been established. If needed, the first green flag would wave at 1 pm CT on Sunday.
Previous winners at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville include former track regular and NASCAR XFINITY Series champion David Green, who won back in 1992. Green drove for the Roulo Brothers Racing team and used that win to propel himself into a competitive ride with a team owned by Bobby Labonte. Labonte won the series championship in 1991 and moved on to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Green took over Labonte’s car in 1993 and in 1994 went on to win the series championship.
Green, originally from Owensboro, Kentucky, is now the Safety Manager for NASCAR. He went on to win nine times in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, including a 1995 win on the high banks at the Fairgrounds. His final win came in 2005 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. But it was that 1992 ARCA win at Nashville that got the ball rolling.
“I have really fond memories of that race,” Green said. “First, it was the first race of any kind I was in that year. I was working for Bobby Labonte and spotting for him that year and I think he could see the bigger picture and he knew I would be driving the Slim Jim car the next year. I had asked him about some opportunities, and he said, “you know, I don’t think that’s a great idea”. But when the Roulo Brothers called me he said go ahead and do it. He knew it was a good opportunity and I would be competitive. But I was almost too nervous to even ask him.
“When they rolled the car out of the trailer, I think the paint was still wet on it,” he laughed. “They had just gotten the car done. But right away everything just clicked. We qualified really well and dominated the race. We were the only car on the lead lap at the finish. That says more about the team than it does about me, though. It was just a really smooth, easy weekend from the start.”
Although he never raced weekly at Nashville, unlike his brother Jeff who raced at Nashville weekly for several seasons, Green credits his experience at Nashville on pointing him towards a pathway to success in NASCAR.
“It was very instrumental in my career,” he said. “I ran there enough to get a real appreciation for the track and its history. The medium banking and the abrasive surface really helped prepare me for places like Rockingham and Darlington. I was fortunate to have that training ground to help make the transition into the higher levels of racing much smoother. It really gave me the tools I needed. And it was great to have the support of the community there too. It’s a great racing town and all of those people coming out every week really showed me the importance of being good with people and being good with sponsors, which helped me later in my career too.”
Another former ARCA Menards Series winner at Nashville that has gone on to the top levels of the sport is 2015 series champion Grant Enfinger. Now a championship contender driving for ThorSport Racing in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, Enfinger won at the Fairgrounds early in his championship season to establish himself as the man to beat for the title.
“Nashville was critical to our championship because we didn’t know if we were going to get to run the full season or not,” Enfinger said. “That win gave us the boost we needed to run the full season and go for the championship. The funny thing is we broke an upper control arm on the last lap of practice. We got it fixed and went out and won the race, but if that broke on the first lap of the race instead of the last lap of practice things could have been a lot different.”
Enfinger has a lot of experience on short tracks all across the southeast, and he’s spent a lot of time at the Fairgrounds but incredibly his ARCA Menards Series win there was his first race there.
“It’s still the only time I have raced there as a driver,” Enfinger said. “I have spent a lot of time there but it was usually working as a crew member for someone else. It was great to finally get there and race, though. It’s an incredible place. I love the history of it. It’s the perfect race track. You have the right amount of tire wear, the right amount of banking to get out there and go race.”
To win at the Fairgrounds, drivers need to outrace the other drivers but they also have to deal with the race track itself, which Enfinger said can be difficult to do.
“You need speed for sure, but you need to manage your race from the time it starts until the end,” he said. “You have to know when to go, and you have to know when to pace yourself and just get to the next pit stop. It’s all about balance. The driver needs to get it right and communicate with his crew chief because if you’re off even a little it’s going to magnify itself as the race goes on. If you’re a little tight in practice, you’re going to push through the center of the corner and snap loose on corner exit. If you’re loose, you’re going to be really loose and not be able to get down the straightaways at all. It’s a driver’s track but it’s a crew chief’s track too. The best drivers and crew chiefs rise to the top at Nashville.”
Practice for the General Tire Music City 200 presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions is set for 2:15 pm ET/1:15 pm CT, with General Tire Pole Qualifying slated for 5:15 pm ET/4:15 pm CT. The green flag on the super late model feature is 6:45 pm ET/5:45 pm CT, with the ARCA Menards Series headliner going green at 9 pm ET/8 pm CT. The race will be televised live flag-to-flag on MAVTV. ARCA for Me members can follow along with live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live chat at ARCARacing.com. New users can register for free with a valid email address at ARCARacing.com/login.