Dale Earnhardt Jr. on NASCAR in Nashville: ‘Like an Old Friend’

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Getty Dale Earnhardt Jr. poses with Cassadee Pope at the Cup Series Awards.

NBC Sports takes over the NASCAR Xfinity and Cup Series schedules, starting with the races in Nashville on Saturday, June 19, and Sunday, June 20. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be back in the booth as NASCAR returns to one of his favorite cities. As the 15-time Most Popular Driver explained, the situation feels “like an old friend.”

The retired driver provided this comparison during a conference call with media members on Tuesday, June 15. He sat down with fellow commentators Jeff Burton, Rick Allen, Steve Letarte, and NBC Sports executive Sam Flood to discuss the upcoming races on the schedule. Earnhardt also responded to questions about why he has pushed so hard to help both NASCAR and IndyCar hold events in Music City.

“Nashville is a great fit. The town does have a lot of energy,” Earnhardt told media members on June 15, per NBC Sports. “When we were doing the Burnout on the Boulevard, that was a moment for me, I was upstairs in one of those buildings looking out the window watching all that happen, and it was clear as day that this was a great relationship and a great partnership with NASCAR and the city of Nashville.

“It just felt normal. It didn’t even feel new. It felt like an old friend and a buddy you hadn’t hung out with in a long, long time. I like it a lot, and I love the fact that we’re celebrating our champion there.”

Earnhardt Helped Support the First IndyCar Race in Nashville

IndyCar Nashville

GettyScott Dixon makes a pit stop at Nashville Superspeedway.

The biggest stars in IndyCar will head to Nashville on Aug. 6-8, 2021, for the Music City Grand Prix. They will race at breakneck speeds around a unique course on the streets, one that covers parts of downtown and incorporates the parking lot of Nissan Stadium.

Earnhardt announced in February that he had joined the Music City GP ownership group to help make the IndyCar race a reality. He partnered with several prominent figures, a list that included Justin Timberlake, Trackhouse Racing owner Justin Marks, and former Delta Airlines Chief Operating Officer Gil West among others.

“I’ve been excited about the Music City Grand Prix since I first heard about it,” Earnhardt said in a February 2021 press release. “It will be an incredible event combining great music and racing in one of my all-time favorite cities. I’m excited to be part of the ownership group for this event and look forward to not only this year’s inaugural event, but to great racing in Nashville for years to come.”

NASCAR Will Return to Nashville After the Season Ends

NASCAR Nashville

GettyNASCAR stars attend the awards ceremony in Nashville.

While the primary focus is on the race weekend at Nashville Superspeedway, there will be other events in the future that bring Earnhardt and NASCAR executives back to Middle Tennessee. The annual NASCAR Cup Series Awards banquet honoring drivers and industry figures will return to Nashville for a second time.

The long-running gala has taken place in New York City and Las Vegas over the years, providing memorable moments for racing fans. However, NASCAR moved the awards ceremony to Nashville in 2019, providing drivers opportunities to do burnouts on Broadway and embrace the Music City lifestyle.

Racing’s sanctioning body had plans to bring the ceremony back to Nashville in 2020 but COVID-19 forced the cancellation. Now, however, the executives and drivers will head back to Nashville after November’s championship race and will celebrate the 2021 season in style.

“Vegas was a great time, New York was a great time,” Earnhardt added. “Very long way to go, but still a lot of fun any time you can get to Vegas. But Nashville for me can provide and be that same experience to where we feel like the crowning of the champion is the most important day in the sport in my opinion — where we celebrate the year and we acknowledge all of the things that happened in our sport in that one night.”

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