The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards makes its return to the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville Tennessee for the Music City 200 presented by Azure Foundation. Nashville marks the second race of the ARCA season, and many drivers will have to shake off the rust since the last race was in February.
Leaving Daytona though left fans with a lot to look forward on Saturday night but one of the big keys to the race will be experience vs. inexperience. Seven drivers, including Joe Gibbs Racing driver Riley Herbst, and Thad Moffitt, grandson of Richard Petty, will make their series debuts. Another 11 will make their first starts at the 0.596-mile track.
The ARCA Racing Series has only visited the Fairgrounds Speedway three times and with that has brought three different winners with David Green, Grant Enfinger and Josh Williams each pulling off the victory. None of the three drivers are entered in the race on Saturday, which means we will have a first time Nashville Winner.
Being on the list of drivers making their Nashville debut, Austin Theriault enters at the points leader following his second career victory at Daytona in February. The No. 52 car that Theriault will pilot on Saturday was driven by Matt Kurzejewski in last season’s race at the Fairgrounds, who finished 13th. Despite never competing in an ARCA race at the Fairgrounds, Theriault has one start at the track in the 2013 All American 400 where he finished 27th.
MDM Motorsports in bringing two stout bullets to the show on Saturday night with Sheldon Creed piloting the No. 28 and Vinnie Miller in the No. 8. Creed will race a special paint scheme honoring the 30th Anniversary of Davey Allison’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win that came in the 1987 Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. It will be Creed’s seventh career start, and his first of the season. He made his ARCA debut at Nashville last season driving for Lira Motorsports. He was able to obtain a career best seventh-place finish after starting 17th. Miller will be make his ARCA debut driving the No. 8 Master Manufacturing Inc. Toyota Camry. He made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series debut earlier this year at New Smyrna Speedway where he finished 13th after starting 13th.
During the almost two full months between Daytona and Nashville, Mason Mitchell Motorsports moved their race to a new location. Kyle Weatherman will pilot the No. 78 Turn 1 Condos Chevrolet SS. Weatherman looked like one of the fastest cars on the track last season, but when an electrical issue sprung and the team had to repair the car, he found himself out of contention and would finish 24th after starting third.
Cunningham Motorsports had a great showing in 2016 with Chase Briscoe winning the pole for this race. The 2016 ARCA champion returns to the track with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series having an off weekend, but he won’t be behind the wheel. Briscoe will spot for the No. 77 of Dalton Sargeant, who will make his first Nashville start. Sargeant has a victory to his name in ARCA and momentum from a fourth-place finish at Daytona in February. Unlike Sargeant, his teammate Shane Lee has experience at the track competing with Win-Tron Racing last season to a 16th-place finish.
Though defending race winner Josh Williams isn’t entered in Saturday Night’s race, he will have a car in it with Michael Lira behind the wheel of the No. 6 JWMotorsports Chevrolet. It will be Lira’s 29th start in ARCA, and his second start at Fairgrounds Speedway. He finished ninth at Nashville in 2015 driving for his father’s team Lira Motorsports.
Venturini Motorsports is bringing both new names and familiar faces to the series this weekend. Canadian driver Raphael Lessard will make his ARCA debut behind the wheel of the No. 25 Musselman’s Big Cup Apple Sauce Toyota Camry. The Quebec native is making his way into the states in a big way. At 14 years old, he found success in the CARS Super Late Model Tour gaining four victories, eight top-5’s, nine top-10’s, and a pole in his rookie season. He has experience at the Fairgrounds Speedway finishing third in last years All-American 400. Joining him at Venturini will be Christian Eckes and Zane Smith. Eckes made his ARCA Racing Series debut last season at Nashville where he finished eighth after starting eighth. Smith will make his third start in the series, and will look to better his best finish of ninth that he gained at Salem last season.