August 20, 2022

One of many SRX racetracks with a long history, Nashville claims to be the only track SRX has visited so far that can boast that Barney Oldfield has ever raced there. Oldfield, America’s first great racing driver, made a name for himself being the first driver Henry Ford hired to introduce Ford across the country, often competing in organized events but still winning many legitimate races. Some of the things Oldfield could claim to invent or play a role in inventing include the car dealership, the now-standard roll cage in racing cars, and the racing tire to which Firestone could trace most of its catalog to. the advent of radial tires.

Anyway, what was this preview about? Ah yes, Nashville. The fairgrounds began holding races in 1904, and after 54 years the modern pavement track opened and became an instant hotbed for NASCAR talent. Coo Coo Marlin called it home, winning four track championships, with his son Sterling winning three. Nashville was the real beginning of the great Darrell Waltrip; in the 1970s, Waltrip burst onto the national scene bragging about how he would beat both Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough, and backed him fiercely. Old Fairground fans, however, had seen this show of dogs and ponies before; Waltrip had done the same at Coo Coo in the 1960s before, winning two track championships in the process. The Marlins were and are beloved names at the fairgrounds, with Coo Coo being the well-made local boy, so this loud-mouthed Kentuckian who shows up and beats Coo Coo did not sit well with fans at the time.

This track has a bit of an eccentric profile – 0.596 miles officially, with 18 degrees of bank in the corners.

In modern NASCAR, there are still plenty of Fairgrounds veterans. Chase Elliott, Daniel Hemric and John Hunter Nemechek are all former winners of the All American 400, one of the biggest late model races in the country. Recently, much has been said about Speedway Motorsports Inc. reaching an agreement with the Fairgrounds Board of Directors to take over and revitalize the facility to once again host national NASCAR touring races, specifically a race of Cup. Although an agreement was reached with the mayor in November, real movement on the deal on the fair board has been very slow in moving forward, with any Cup race now likely in 2025 or later.

Here is the entry list for Saturday evening, with the invited drivers in bold:

Here’s a look at three notable superstars competing this coming Saturday night:

The big guest driver this week has to be Josef Newgarden. Newgarden currently ranks third in IndyCar points, with its three wins pacing the series. The two-time IndyCar champion and Nashville native has never driven production cars and, for that reason, has never driven at the fairgrounds in front of his home crowd.

It will be interesting to see how Newgarden performs during this unique event. He never won the Indianapolis 500, but he did well on the ovals during his IndyCar career. Notably, he’s won three times at Iowa, which is the only short oval the series visits and perhaps the only track where he can bring knowledge to the table.

Matt Kenseth, who was just voted into the 2023 NASCAR Hall of Fame class earlier this year, will join SRX for the final three races of this season. Interestingly, two of those races will be on dirt ovals, with Nashville being the only track similar to those old Wisconsin cobblestone short tracks like Slinger Speedway that Kenseth grew up on.

Kenseth is well known for both his elite tire management and quiet consistency, with many of his Cup wins involving him starting near the back of the pack and slowly working his way up until he came out of nowhere to contend for victory late. Those attributes should serve him well at the Fairgrounds, a track where his son Ross once won an All American 400.

Cole Williams won the Nashville fan vote to be named local ringer for this week’s race, and truly the last true local ringer of the season, as the bottom two are already well-known national names. A 26-year-old late model rider, Williams has won two track championships in this class and made a few starts in ARCA. Unlike any other driver in SRX history, he was voted for by the fans, so this should be a good introduction for this young driver during driver introductions this week.

Coverage of the SRX race in Nashville begins July 9 at 8 p.m. ET and airs on CBS.

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