Dale Jr.: Nashville Superspeedway ‘Earned Its Place’

Getty Chase Elliott does a burnout at Nashville Superspeedway.

The NASCAR Cup Series has only competed at Nashville Superspeedway two times since the track returned to active duty. This is a limited run, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. believes that the track has earned its place on the schedule.

The Hall of Famer provided the comments during a media session put on by NBC Sports. He explained that he still has the desire to see the Nashville Fairgrounds on the NASCAR schedule, but he also wants to keep Nashville Superspeedway active due to the action it has delivered in the past two seasons.

“I feel like there is room for both [tracks],” Earnhardt said. “My appreciation and the appeal to the speedway for me has increased quite a bit over the last two years we’ve been there.

“So while I’m looking forward to whatever the future may hold for the fairgrounds, I feel like the speedway has earned its position and earned its place. The races are spectacular, the track is wide, and provides drivers with places to go to pass. It’s just been compelling so far.”

The 1.33-Mile Track Has Multiple Lanes

GettyMartin Truex Jr. (front) & Denny Hamlin (rear) race at Nashville Superspeedway.

What makes a good intermediate track? The ability to work through the field and take advantage of multiple lanes is certainly up there.

This is something that Auto Club Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway both have. The result is that both tracks have delivered excitement for fans and drivers alike over the years.

Nashville Superspeedway may not be at the same level as Homestead, in particular, but it certainly has room for drivers to move around. The 2022 race was a fitting example as the field went three- and four-wide at times while battling for position.

There also wasn’t a true dominant lane. Denny Hamlin was better on the inside while Martin Truex Jr. made his moves on the outside. Having multiple options only improved the racing as the two teammates battled for stage wins.

Questions Remain About the Nashville in 2023

GettyKyle Larson (front) races at Nashville Superspeedway.

The Tennessee track has delivered some highlight-worthy battles in the first two years since it returned to the NASCAR schedule. Though two Cup Series teams have dominated in the first two races.

Drivers from Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports have combined to lead 579 of the 600 laps in the first two races. Hamlin leads the way for JGR with 114 laps led in 2022 while Kyle Larson is atop the list for Hendrick Motorsports with 264 laps led in 2021.

Kyle Busch (64 laps led), Truex (82 laps led), and Chase Elliott (55 laps led) are the other three drivers that have led laps for the two championship-winning organizations.

While these two teams have shared the number of laps led, only one has celebrated wins. Larson won the inaugural Ally 400 in 2021 while Elliott won the rain-delayed Ally 400 in 2022.

With two teams leading the overwhelming majority of the laps, there are questions about whether this trend will continue. Will JGR and HMS dominate once again in 2023, or will another team such as 23XI Racing step in and take control?

The answer likely depends on qualifying. Hamlin won the pole in 2022, which put him at the front of the pack early. He used this advantage to lead early and often while battling Truex and other drivers. Though the rain delays also opened up opportunities for other drivers to contend for the win.

“Nashville is really interesting. We had a really strong car last year,” Truex said in a release from JGR. “Led a bunch and won both Stage 1 and Stage 2 and was in really good shape.

“The rain delay came, the track cooled off and changed a lot and we went from us and the 11 as the two cars to beat to all of a sudden five or more guys right there with us. I don’t remember exactly how we got shuffled out of the lead but I know it had something to do with the pit cycle and pit stops.

“Once you lose the lead, you lose the advantage, and some other guys got faster as it cooled off when it was so much later at night and we just couldn’t get back to the front. I feel like we’ve been bringing some really good cars to the track and would expect us to be strong at Nashville this weekend.”

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