After a long eight years, NASCAR returns to Memphis International Raceway today for the Memphis 125 presented by AutoZone. The return to Memphis is long overdue and could be a marketing test to see if interest in the sport is in Memphis as NASCAR begins to look for some new tracks to add to the schedules in other series. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series both formerly raced in Memphis.
“NASCAR returning to Memphis and the Mid-South is a tremendous opportunity to continue the comeback of Memphis International Raceway as a powerful economic engine for tourism and hospitality for our region. Previous NASCAR events had a tremendous visitor impact on hotels, restaurants and attractions throughout the entire Mid-South region,” stated Kevin Kane, president and CEO of the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau. “With the great NASCAR fans we have, along with the attractive appeal of what our area brings, NASCAR and Memphis International Raceway obviously go hand-in-hand.”
The NASCAR XFINITY Series last raced here back on October 24th, 2009 where Brad Keselowski defeated Kyle Busch in the Kroger On Track For The Cure 250. The NASCAR XFINITY Series raced 11 times while the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series had 12 races at Memphis. This will be the first time the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East has ever raced at Memphis and the lack of experience in the field will certainly make things exciting this evening.
Harrison Burton has had one heck of a start to the season securing his first career victory at Bristol Motor Speedway in the rain-shortened Zombie Auto 125 back in April, and then his second victory at South Boston. Burton is entering another track for the first time of his career as are much of the others. Burton holds an 18-point lead over Todd Gilliland. Both drivers are coming from Dover International Speedway after competing in yesterday’s Bar Harbor 200. Burton tied his career best finish of 13th while Gilliland’s day was ended early after suspension damage caused him to finish 20th.
Ruben Garcia Jr. secured his best career finish of second at Bristol and looks to continue his Tennessee momentum at Memphis. In the last few races he has surged to third in the standings with top-six finishes in the last three races, and has two top-fives and four top-10’s in five races this season. He secured a fifth-place finish the last time the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East took to the tack in South Boston.
Hunter Baize currently sits fifth in the standings with one top-five and four top-10 finishes in five races this season. Baize will make his 20th career start in the K&N Pro Series East. His best finish came at Bristol earlier this season where he finished fourth with help from teammate Chad Finchum, who will be starting 31st in his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut today at Dover with MBM Motorsports in conjunction with Martin-McClure Racing.