Fairgrounds Speedway
Photo courtesy Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway

Will concerns cause roadblock for NASCAR return to Nashville?

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Plans to bring NASCAR racing back to Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway may have hit a speed bump.

According to The Tennessean, financing to upgrade the .596-mile racing facility, as well as potential encroachment of part of a new $275 million Major League Soccer stadium complex, have led to a number of unanswered questions on the viability of bringing NASCAR back to Music City.

Nashville Mayor David Briley’s administration has expressed concern over how Speedway Motorsports Inc. and current Fairgrounds race operator Tony Formosa will fund plans for upgrades and improvements to the track facility, the newspaper reported.

“To date, (SMI) has not presented an option that was either practical considering the planned MLS stadium or financially feasible considering the mayor’s insistence on private investment in any proposal,” Briley spokesperson Thomas Mulgrew told The Tennessean.

The newspaper said the latest financing proposal includes possible legislation that would allow state and city tax revenue generated from NASCAR events at the racetrack to go toward paying for facility improvements and upgrades.

But a potentially larger sticking point in bringing NASCAR’s national series back to the Fairgrounds is construction of the adjacent soccer stadium. The footprint of a mixed-use apartment building and parking garage that would be part of the stadium project would come as close as 20 feet to the front entrance of the racetrack.

Formosa expressed concern to The Tennessean that such a close encroachment may prevent the ability to hold races on the track if stadium plans are not adjusted, particularly for safety reasons, as well as limiting ability for future track expansion or further improvements.

You have to have that open for emergency vehicles, and for people to enter,” Formosa told The Tennessean. “That’s the main gate.”

Officials of SMI, which owns eight NASCAR tracks, including Bristol Motor Speedway, site of this weekend’s Xfinity and Cup races, are hopeful both the financing and stadium encroachment issues can be resolved.

Locating one of the mixed-use structures next to the race track entrance will pose an obvious challenge to staging major events of any kind, both operationally and from a public safety standpoint,” BMS general manager Jerry Caldwell told The Tennessean.

A return to Nashville isn’t just important to SMI, it’s equally as important to NASCAR. The sanctioning body will hold its Cup awards banquet Dec. 5 in Music City, moving it from Las Vegas. 

There is a great amount of interest from the motorsports industry to bring NASCAR back to the Nashville fairgrounds,” Caldwell told The Tennessean. “The drivers and fans love the idea of returning to one of racing’s most historic and important tracks and cities.

We frequently hear from drivers, race teams and fans inquiring about when Nashville will be on the NASCAR schedule. … Major racing in Nashville is one of the hottest interests among drivers and racing fans.”

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NASCAR Open starting lineup at Bristol

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Michael McDowell will start on the pole for the NASCAR Open at Bristol Motor Speedway after a random draw. Aric Almirola joins him on the front row.

Click here for NASCAR Open starting lineup

The winners of each segment advance to the All-Star Race, along with the fan vote winner. Last year, Kyle Larson won a segment in the Open to advance to the All-Star Race and then won that event. Other segment winners last year were William Byron and Bubba Wallace. Alex Bowman advanced through the fan vote a year ago. Bowman has already qualified for this year’s All-Star Race.

 

NASCAR Open at Bristol 

Race Time: 7 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)

Length: 85 laps over three segments, 45.3 miles

Segments: Segment 1 is 35 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 15 laps.

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Texas (200 laps, 300 miles), 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Saturday at Texas (167 laps, 250.5 miles) 8 p.m. ET on FS1

Martin Truex Jr. to start on pole for All-Star Race at Bristol

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Martin Truex Jr., who is seeking his first All-Star Race win, will start on the pole for Wednesday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway after a random draw.

Truex will be joined on the front row by Alex Bowman.

Rookie Cole Custer, who earned a spot in the All-Star Race with his win Sunday at Kentucky, will start eighth.

Click here for All-Star Lineup

  • Positions 17-19 will go to segment winners from the NASCAR Open. The 20th starting spot goes to the fan vote winner, which will be announced after the NASCAR Open

Among the special rules for the race:

# The Chose Rule will be used. As drivers approach a designated spot on the track, they must commit to the inside or outside lane for the restart.

# The car number will move from the door toward the rear wheel to give sponsors more exposure.

# Cars that have automatically qualified for the All-Star Race will have underglow lights on their cars.

 

NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol 

Race Time: 8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)

Length: 140 laps over four segments, 74.6 miles

Segments: Segment 1 is 55 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 35 laps. Segment 4 is 15 laps (only green flag laps count in this segment).

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Texas (200 laps, 300 miles), 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Saturday at Texas (167 laps, 250.5 miles) 8 p.m. ET on FS1

Xfinity playoff grid after Kentucky doubleheader

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The Xfinity Series went to Kentucky Speedway for a doubleheader and Austin Cindric left the track with two wins and a spot in the playoffs.

Cindric, who claimed the first oval track NASCAR wins of his career, is now third on the playoff grid among the six drivers locked into the postseason. He has 15 playoff points.

Noah Gragson, who is second on the grid, won three of four stages in Kentucky and has 18 playoff points.

Six spots remain to be filled on the playoff grid. The last two drivers currently in the top 12 are Ryan Sieg (+57 points above cutline) and Brandon Brown (+14).

The first four drivers outside the top 12 are Myatt Snider (-14 points from cutline), Jeremy Clements (-30), Alex Labbe (-42) and Jesse Little (-47).

Cup playoff grid after Kentucky Speedway

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Cole Custer delivered the first curveball to the NASCAR Cup Series’ playoff chase Sunday when he won at Kentucky Speedway.

Custer entered the race 25th in the points, nine spots back from the cutoff line for 16-driver field.

Now, Custer is one of nine drivers locked into the playoffs, meaning the cutoff for the postseason is 15th in points.

Among those currently in the playoff grid who are not locked in, the last two are William Byron (+30 points) and Jimmie Johnson (+24).

The first four drivers sitting outside a playoff spot are Austin Dillon (-24 points from cutoff), Tyler Reddick (-41), Erik Jones (-42) and Bubba Wallace (-84).