By Joe Dunn
It seems like just a couple of weeks ago that the NASCAR teams were off. Oh, they were? Well, the Cup guys are off again, but this weekend will be a double header for the Camping World Truck and Nationwide teams, as they head to Nashville, TN.
This will be the first time for two of NASCAR’s top 3 to be at the track together, an event that resulted from the closing of Memphis Motorsports Park last fall. Owner Dover Motorsports, not wanting to lose the NCWTS and NNS events held at MMP took advantage of their other track Nashville Superspeedway and Gateway Speedway and moved the MMP dates. The result of the moves gives Gateway two NNS and one NCWTS events, while Nashville gets two of each.
Two drivers looking forward to this weekend are Ricky Carmichael, in the No. 4 Monster Energy Drink Chevrolet, who is coming off a top 10 finish at Martinsville and Brad Keselowski, who returns with a new team, the No.22 Discount Tire Dodge with Penske Racing. ʺI’ve never been to the track before, this will be my first time,ʺ said Carmichael. ʺBut it looks like a cool track in a cool city. I have a good attitude going in to it, and Nashville is a place where I have a good fan base. I hope I can run well in front of them. I really like concrete tracks, like Dover. It’s a change of pace and something different.ʺ Keselowski announced recently that he will be entering the Friday, April 2 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event in Nashville in the No. 29 entry from Brad Keselowski Racing. “It will be fun running in both series, and I am looking to get my first win with Penske Racing’s NASCAR Nationwide Series program,” he said. “I already have one guitar,” said Keselowski. “One is great. Two would be better.”
Nashville Superspeedway is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, so making the Spring race a double header by adding the NCWTS event (from Memphis) to the NNS race makes for a great kickoff. It’s no secret that the stand alone non cup events are hurting even more from the economy, so any efforts to bolster attendance should be expected. The ability of the average blue collar Joe to afford to take the family to Bristol, Daytona or Charlotte, like they used to is getting more difficult so many are looking for alternatives for their at track racing needs.
With all of this in mind, it seems that the folks at Nashville have decided to enlist some help to pull off a racer’s deal for the weekend, in hopes of filling the stands that were less than sold out last year. Title sponsors, Camping World and Nationwide are joining together to put on a free Fan Fest on Thursday night at the Nashville Camping World location. Serving as a mini Sprint Experience’, they are bringing more than a dozen drivers from the two Series for autographs, interactive displays, prizes, giveaways and other features to ramp up the fan excitement for the race weekend.
They know that not all the fans can make it to Nashville on Thursday, so Friday afternoon, they will have more than 20 drivers in the Vendor area at the track for autographs. On Saturday, On Pit Road will be teaming up with Nationwide, NASCAR and Nashville Superspeedway for the latest addition to fan participation at the tracks, a ’Tweetup’ after NNS qualifying, with surprise driver appearances as well as prizes.
The promotions don’t stop at the Series title Sponsors when it comes to Nashville. I look at Nashville Superspeedway as kind of my co-hometown track, shared with Bristol, as I live between the two tracks. With that in mind, I had the opportunity recently to meet with the folks from the Speedway as well as Pepsi and Sav-a-lot stores recently. “We’re proud to celebrate our 10th anniversary at Nashville Superspeedway,” said Cliff Hawks, vice president and general manager of Nashville Superspeedway. “It’s been our goal to make Nashville one of the most fan friendly venues in the sport and the racing is always competitive. Sam Bass has created a colorful logo that will commemorate the track’s special anniversary in style, and we can’t wait to drop the green flag this April.”
Pepsi of Nashville has joined with Pizza Hut and 30 Sav-a-lot stores in Tennessee to offer ticket discounts for fans by purchasing discounted tickets at select Sav-a-lot stores, redeeming Pepsi Cans for discounts at the track, or obtaining a discount ‘code’ from participating Tennessee Pizza Huts to use on phone in ticket orders. The ‘all access’ pass which debuted at Nashville Superspeedway last year will again be available this weekend and a post race concert by Steel Magnolia will be provided by the Speedway’s Pole Qualifying sponsor Dillon Transportation.