NASCAR is all tuned-up for Nashville Superspeedway

NKP #1: Ross Chastain, Trackhouse Racing, Worldwide Express Chevrolet Camaro

Crank-up the amplifiers and tune the steel-guitars because NASCAR is rumbling to Tennessee’s Music City this weekend for Sunday’s Ally 400 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90) at Nashville Superspeedway. The unique D-shaped, concrete oval that stretches 1.33-miles, is the longest concrete surface track on the 2024 schedule and will have drivers and teams two-stepping to find the perfect set-up for their cars this weekend.

Following a historic New Hampshire Motor Speedway race that concluded the last 86 laps on the damp surface tires, Hendrick Motorsports’ teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott are tied atop the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings with 620 points each, but Larson currently holds the tiebreaker of more wins (3 to 1). Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin (third, -40 points) and Martin Truex Jr. (fourth, -48 points) are right in the tire tracks of the Hendrick duo in the points. 

Last season, Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain, who is currently ninth in the driver standings looking for his first win of 2024, joined Larson (2021) and Elliott (2022) as the third different winner at Nashville Superspeedway. 

And it will be interesting to see if another OEM can break through the dominance of Chevrolet at Nashville, as they have won all three of the NASCAR Cup Series events at the 1.33-mile track (2021-2022). 

Historical Rundown: Nashville Superspeedway

Construction of Nashville Superspeedway was completed in 2001 and the 1.33-mile concrete facility was originally owned by Dover Motorsports.

The first NASCAR national series race held at Nashville Superspeedway was a NASCAR Xfinity Series event on April 14, 2001. The first Xfinity race at Nashville was won by Greg Biffle driving a Ford for RFK Racing. 

Next to follow at Nashville Superspeedway was the first NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race on August 10, 2001. Veteran Scott Riggs, driving a Dodge for truck owner Jim Smith, grabbed the first Truck Series win at Nashville. 

Nashville Superspeedway was purchased from Dover Motorsports in 2021 and is currently owned and operated by Speedway Motorsports.

The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway was on June 20, 2021. The first Cup event was won by Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Kyle Larson in a Chevrolet.

In total, Nashville Superspeedway has hosted 43 NASCAR national series races – the third-most in the state of Tennessee, behind Bristol Motor Speedway (231 races) and Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (56 races).

Good starting spots are the only ones that win at Nashville

Nashville Superspeedway’s three NASCAR Cup Series events have produced three different race winners and all three started inside the top-five, making this weekend’s Busch Light Pole Qualifying on June 29 just a wee bit important. 

Aric Almirola, driving for Stewart-Haas Racing, won the pole for the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series Nashville Superspeedway race in 2021, setting the track qualifying record at 161.992 MPH. 

Then Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin won the pole for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Nashville Superspeedway race and Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain won the pole for the 2023 race. 

Almirola would go on to finish fourth in 2021 and Hamlin finished sixth in 2022.

But the three winners of the NASCAR Cup Series races have all started up front. The 2021 race winner Kyle Larson started in the fifth position, the 2022 winner Chase Elliott started in fourth position and Chastain started from the pole. 

This weekend the on-track NASCAR Cup Series action begins with practice and Busch Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday, June 29 from 2 – 4 p.m. ET on the USA Network, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. 

Race Rewind: Nashville Superspeedway edition

With only three NASCAR Cup Series races in the books, here is a look back at the results of each event.

In 2021, Nashville Superspeedway hosted the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at the 1.33-mile track, and the event was won by Hendrick Motorsport’s driver and 2021 series champion Kyle Larson. The California native took the win with a Margin of Victory of 4.335 seconds over Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain in second. The race produced 14 lead changes among seven different drivers. Larson led the most laps of the race, spending 264 of the scheduled 300 laps out front (88%). 

In 2022, Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott took home the checkered flag at Nashville Superspeedway. The Dawsonville, Georgia native and 2020 series champion, held off 23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch by a scant .551-second to win. The 2022 Nashville Cup race saw 18 lead changes among seven different leaders. Polesitter Denny Hamlin led the most laps of the 2022 Nashville race with 114 circuits out front.

Then last season, Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain grabbed the checkered flag at Nashville Superspeedway becoming the third different winner in as many races at the track. The Alva, Florida native and generational watermelon farmer, held off Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. by a slight .789-second to win. The 2023 Nashville Cup race saw 21 lead changes among 12 different leaders. Polesitter Ross Chastain led the most laps of the 2023 Nashville race with 99 laps out front enroute to the victory. 

Chase for a Regular Season Championship tightens

Just eight races to go and the battle for the top spot in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season standings is as tight as it gets – tied.

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott are currently tied atop the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings with 620 points each, but Larson has regained the points lead technically due to holding the tiebreaker – most wins (3 to 1).

Forcing Larson and Elliott to keep the pedal to the floor this season are Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin in third in the point standings (-40 back from the lead) and his JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. (-48) in fourth. 

Only one driver can take home the Regular Season Championship trophy and bank the 15 Playoff bonus points that come with it, and if it were to be either Larson, Elliott or Hamlin, they would become just the third different driver since the introduction of the Regular Season Championship to win more than one; joining Martin Truex Jr. (2017, 2023) and Kyle Busch (2018, 2019).

In total only five drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship – Martin Truex Jr. (2023, 2017), Kyle Busch (2019, 2018), Chase Elliott (2022), Kyle Larson (2021) and Kevin Harvick (2020).

Bells are ringing and Gibbs is singing

This season Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell has been riding a wave of success none like he has ever experienced in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season and with his big win last weekend he has officially put his competitors on notice.

So far this year, Bell has managed to win at the 1-mile Phoenix Raceway, the track that just so happens to play host to the Championship Race at the end of the season, he has won the season’s longest race and one of its ‘Crown Jewels’ the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, and then managed to bring home his third victory of the season last weekend winning the sport’s first ever race completed on the damp surface tires at New Hampshire. 

“Christopher [Bell], I just think Christopher, he’s gifted, and the further he goes, we all just really appreciate it,” said Joe Gibbs. “I think he’s a real talented, young guy. To be truthful, with him not in here, I’ll tell you, he’s the All-American guy. Sponsors love him. He’s just a kid that everybody loves. So, it’s great to see him, too, get the success that I think he deserves. He’s worked hard.”

Don’t expect Bell to slow his roll anytime soon, the 29-year-old has run well at Nashville too. In three starts at the 1.33-mile track he has posted three top-10s.

Race To The Playoffs: Eight races left in the regular season

For the drivers and teams that have earned a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs already, these next eight races are a great time to prepare for the postseason, pad Playoff points and set themselves up for the best possible position to finish the regular season. For the drivers and teams not locked into the Playoffs, these next eight races are the final eight chances they have to secure their spot in the coveted postseason.

Playoff Bound:

With 10 drivers in 2024 with wins, only six spot are still up for grabs in the 16-driver Playoff field as the series heads to Nashville Superspeedway this weekend for the Ally 400 (June 30 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). 

The 10 drivers this season currently holding a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs by virtue of their regular season wins are Kyle Larson (three wins), Denny Hamlin (three), Christopher Bell (three), William Byron (three), Chase Elliott (one), Tyler Reddick (one), Ryan Blaney (one), Brad Keselowski (one), Daniel Suarez (one), Austin Cindric (one).

Interestingly, all 10 of the winners that have earned a spot in the Playoffs this season are former Playoff drivers in their careers.

In The Hot Seats:

The six drivers currently in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff transfer spots on points are Martin Truex Jr. (+155 points up on postseason cutoff), Ross Chastain (+93), Ty Gibbs (+82), Alex Bowman (+59), Chris Buescher (+50) and two-time Cup Series champion Joey Logano (+13).

Team Penske’s Joey Logano is currently in the most precarious position of the six drivers inside the Playoff cutoff heading into Nashville this weekend, because he holds the 16th and final transfer position on points. If a driver below him in the standings wins over the next eight races, he could find himself bounced out of the Playoffs.

Logano currently has just a 13-point advantage on 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace who is in 17th – the first spot outside the Playoffs’ cutoff.

Outside Looking In:

There are currently 18 drivers still eligible to make the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs that are without a win and below the postseason cut line in points following New Hampshire. 

23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace (-13 points), is one of seven drivers currently below the Playoff cutline that has made the Cup Series Playoffs previously, along with Chase Briscoe (-25 points), two-time Cup champion Kyle Busch (-45 points), Michael McDowell (-99), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-132), Erik Jones (-151) and Austin Dillon (-197).

Cup Playoff Outlook: Drivers Without Wins

RankDriverPointsWinsStagesPlayoff PtsPts From Cutoff
11Martin Truex Jr.572022155
12Ross Chastain51001193
13Ty Gibbs49902282
14Alex Bowman47600059
15Chris Buescher46702250
16Joey Logano43001113
17Bubba Wallace417000-13
18Chase Briscoe405000-25
19Kyle Busch385000-45
20Josh Berry #357000-73
21Todd Gilliland347000-83
22Michael McDowell331011-99
23Carson Hocevar #322000-108
24Ricky Stenhouse Jr.298000-132
25Noah Gragson297000-133
26Erik Jones279000-151
27John Hunter Nemechek276000-154
28Ryan Preece275000-155
29Corey LaJoie256000-174
30Justin Haley242000-188
31Daniel Hemric240000-190
32Austin Dillon233000-197
33Harrison Burton208000-222
34Zane Smith #165000-265


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