Father’s Day Spectacular: Nashville Superspeedway sets the stage for the NASCAR Cup Series

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race, the Ally 400 at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, will mark the first time in series history that Nashville Superspeedway will host a Cup event. 

Nashville Superspeedway hosted its first NASCAR national series races back in April of 2001. Through 2011, the 1.33-mile D-shaped oval with 14 degrees of banking in the turns was home to 21 NASCAR Xfinity Series races and 13 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events.

In 2021, Nashville is scheduled to host its first NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, June 20 (Father’s Day). The Father’s Day event will be the first NASCAR Cup Series race in the Nashville area since 1984; when the series last competed at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, 0.549-mile paved oval, on July 14, 1984. The race was won by Geoff Bodine driving the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

Nashville Superspeedway is the largest concrete-only track in NASCAR, and the 1.33-mile speedway is owned by Dover Motorsports, Inc., which also owns Dover International Speedway in Delaware.

This weekend’s Ally 400 will be the 44th different race the NASCAR Cup Series has hosted on Father’s Day in the Modern Era (1972-Present) and the first time since 2017 the series has competed on the special holiday. Racing on Father’s Day has been a staple in the NASCAR Cup Series with only six seasons since 1972 not having a Father’s Day race: 2000 (June 19, 2000, Pocono race was scheduled for Father’s Day but postponed due to weather to next day), 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020 (no race scheduled on Father’s Day). Nashville Superspeedway will become the fifth different track to host a NASCAR Cup Series race on Father’s Day joining Michigan International Speedway (30 races), Pocono Raceway (eight races), Riverside International Raceway (three races) and Sonoma Raceway (two races).

In the Modern Era (1972-Present), no driver has won more times on Father’s Day than NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough, who won four times at Michigan International Speedway on observed holiday (1977, 1978, 1982, 1983). 

In total, four active NASCAR Cup Series drivers have won on Father’s Day – Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch.

Race WinnerFather’s Day DateTrack
Kyle LarsonSunday, June 18, 2017Michigan International Speedway
Denny HamlinSunday, June 19, 2011Michigan International Speedway
Ryan NewmanSunday, June 20, 2004Michigan International Speedway
Kurt BuschSunday, June 15, 2003Michigan International Speedway

The most recent driver to win on Father’s Day in the NASCAR Cup Series was Kyle Larson on June 18, 2017 at Michigan International Speedway. Larson is red hot this season, winning three points-paying races (Las Vegas, Charlotte and Sonoma) the NASCAR All-Star Race, and posting nine top fives and 11 top 10s.

Previous experience at Nashville could be advantageous this weekend

Experience is always key in high level competition and this weekend will be no different for the NASCAR Cup Series at Nashville Superspeedway. With this weekend being the track’s debut on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, and with no NASCAR national series competition at the track since 2011, that experience is few and far between amongst current competitors.

Looking through the preliminary NASCAR Cup Series entry list for this Sunday’s Ally 400 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), and of the 39 competitors entered only 14 have made at least one start in a NASCAR national series event at Nashville Superspeedway. 

Of those 14 drivers with starts at Nashville, only five have previous won a NASCAR national series race at the 1.33-mile track, led by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch with three NASCAR national series victories:

Kyle Busch (NXS one win: 2009; NCWTS two wins: 2010, 2011)

Kevin Harvick (NXS two wins: 2006, 2010)

Brad Keselowski (NXS two wins: 2008, 2010)

Austin Dillon (NCWTS one win: 2011)

Joey Logano (NXS one win: 2009)

The remaining drivers that are entered this weekend with previous NASCAR national series starts at Nashville without a win are Aric Almirola, Matt DiBenedetto, Denny Hamlin, 2021 Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell, David Starr, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and JJ Yeley.

Larson looks for third straight points-paying Cup race win

Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Kyle Larson has been performing lights out lately winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway three weeks ago, then conquering the hilly road course of Sonoma Raceway two weeks ago and finally capturing his second career NASCAR All-Star Race win at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend. Now the 28-year-old is looking to get his third straight points-paying race win this weekend at Nashville Superspeedway to become just the fifth different active driver to accomplish the feat; joining Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.

NASCAR Cup Series Consecutive Wins – Three or More (Active Drivers)
DriverNo.FromTo
Kyle Busch37/11/20157/26/2015
Kyle Busch34/8/20184/21/2018
Kevin Harvick32/25/20183/11/2018
Brad Keselowski39/2/20189/18/2018
Joey Logano310/11/201510/25/2015

This weekend will be Larson’s NASCAR national series debut at Nashville Superspeedway.

Playoff Bubble: 10 races to go in regular season

Time is running short for the drivers not already locked into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with just 10 races remaining in the regular season. Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher in the 16th and final transfer position to the postseason has opened up a sizeable points cushion (+60 points) over Wood Brothers Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto in 17th.

With such a large points deficit between drivers in the top 16 and not, a win might be the only way a driver on the outside looking in can make the Playoffs with so few races left in the regular season. 

Of the drivers outside the current top 16 driver Playoff outlook, six are former NASCAR Cup Series winners – Kurt Busch (18th in points), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (19th), Ryan Newman (23rd), Erik Jones (25th), Cole Custer (27th) and Aric Almirola (28th).

Kurt Busch, with 32 career NASCAR Cup Series wins, is currently 18th in the Playoff outlook 63 points back from Chris Buescher in 16th – the final Playoff transfer position. Among the nine upcoming tracks that make up the rest of the regular season, Busch has won at five of them (Daytona, Michigan, Pocono, New Hampshire, Atlanta). This will be his NASCAR national series debut at Nashville this weekend.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., with two career NASCAR Cup Series wins, is currently 19th in the Playoff outlook 82 points behind the postseason cutline.  Among the nine upcoming tracks that make up the rest of the Cup Series regular season, Stenhouse has won at just Daytona International Speedway (2017 July). Stenhouse has made five NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Nashville posting a best finish of runner-up in 2011.

Ryan Newman, with 18 career NASCAR Cup Series wins, is currently 23rd in the Playoff outlook 104 points back from Chris Buescher in the final postseason transfer position. Among the nine tracks left on the regular season Cup schedule, Newman has won at four of them (Daytona, Michigan, Pocono and New Hampshire). This weekend will be Newman’s NASCAR national series track debut at Nashville Superspeedway.

Erik Jones, with two career NASCAR Cup Series wins, is currently 25th in the Playoff outlook 119 points behind the postseason cutline.  Among the nine upcoming tracks that make up the rest of the regular season, Jones has won at just Daytona International Speedway (2018 July). This weekend will be Jones’ NASCAR national series track debut at Nashville Superspeedway.

Cole Custer, with one career NASCAR Cup Series win (Kentucky 2020), is currently 27th in the Playoff outlook 138 points behind Chris Buescher in 16th – the final transfer position.  This weekend will be Custer’s NASCAR national series track debut at Nashville Superspeedway.

Aric Almirola, with two career NASCAR Cup Series wins, is currently 28th in the Playoff outlook 186 points back from Chris Buescher in the final postseason transfer position. Among the nine tracks left on the regular season Cup schedule, Almirola has won at just Daytona International Speedway (2014 July). Almirola has made four starts at Nashville Superspeedway in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Almirola’s best finish in Xfinity at Nashville was fifth in 2011 and his best finish in the Truck Series at Nashville was third in 2010.