NASCAR

SPEED/FX Nashville Viewers Guide

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Steve Byrnes

Steve Byrnes is a host and reporter for NASCAR on FOX. A broadcast veteran, he has covered racing for more than 20 years. Follow him on Twitter.

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When we first went to the Nashville Superspeedway in 2001, everybody said it was almost too fast for the configuration, but we've seen some great side-by-side racing. A lot of people have asked me if the Nextel Cup Series will go there. Certainly they could add seats, but as far as venues go, it's a great place for the Busch Series.

Saturday, 3/26 on SPEED/FX
11:30 a.m. ET: Busch qualifying on SPEED
1:30 p.m. ET: ARCA race on SPEED
3:30 p.m. ET: Busch prerace on FX
4 p.m. ET: Busch race from Nashville on FX
7 p.m. ET: SPEED News on SPEED

Young drivers have really stepped up in the first five races of the season. Clint Bowyer, Reed Sorenson and David Stremme have done a good job. Driving a Joe Gibbs car, Denny Hamlin has quietly climbed to ninth in points. Shane Hmiel has been competitive although he hasn't had the finishes to show for it every week. Jon Wood has been strong on occasion so there's an influx of young talent in addition to veterans like Jason Keller, Greg Biffle and Kenny Wallace. There's a good mix of talent in the series this year.

Who to Watch

  • Clint Bowyer: Last year, Bowyer had two top fives at Nashville, and he's led over 100 laps. I thought he was going to win the race last spring, and then he got caught up in that big melee at the end as Michael Waltrip scooted around to win.
  • Johnny Sauter: With two top fives in six starts with different cars, Sauter is going to be good.
  • Martin Truex Jr.: With two poles in three starts, Truex has a top five, and he's led 40 laps.
  • Jason Keller: Keller has had some really good runs with three top fives in seven starts, and Nashville may be a place for him to make a move with Team Rensi because he's led 122 laps there.
  • Carl Edwards: It's hard for me to get away from the theory of momentum, and, in five starts, Edwards literally could have two or three wins by now.
  • What to Watch

  • Driving like an animal: At Atlanta, I asked Jimmie Johnson about the difference between Cup and Busch cars, and he said you can drive the Busch cars like you're an animal. You can drive them much more aggressively. When Shane Hmiel tested Cup and Busch cars at Atlanta, he said the bigger rear spoiler on the Busch car made a huge difference. With an inch less spoiler in the Nextel Cup Series, NASCAR wanted to make the cars a little harder to drive. But in the Busch Series, you can manhandle the cars, which will make for a good race this week.
  • Consistent concrete: Nashville is a concrete track, and like your driveway in the middle of summer, it doesn't heat up when the asphalt on the street does. The temperature is much more consistent which makes it easier for the crew chiefs to have a consistent car for the majority of the race.
  • Driver's track: Nashville is a driver's track because you have to finesse the car. You've got to stay out of trouble and pick your spots. I like tracks where a driver needs to use finesse or be aggressive when he needs to, and Nashville is one of those tracks.
  • Going for the guitar: The drivers really get a kick out of winning a Gibson guitar. After all, it is Music City USA, but back when I was doing Busch races for TNN at the Nashville Fairgrounds, it was a big deal. Everybody talked about getting that guitar so it's unusual, and those guys really enjoy it.
  • The other Sadler brothers: Jeremy Mayfield told me that he swept floors for Nashville-based Sadler brothers, and as Darrell Waltrip mentioned during last week's Busch broadcast, a lot of drivers and mechanics have come through that team. It's a teams that's kind of under the radar. They're not flashy, and they don't run all of the races, but when they do, they have good equipment and they have good drivers. This weekend, Bobby Hamilton will run in the No. 95 car for the second consecutive race, and it will give the race some Nashville flavor.
  • Speed Mail Steve

    Pit Perspective

    At Atlanta, I had a front-row seat to watch Reed Sorenson's team struggle with transmission trouble. It was really impressive to see Donnie Wingo, Tony Glover, Andy Graves, Jimmy Elledge and the entire Ganassi organization do everything they could to get Sorenson in that race. The frustration on the driver's face made you understand just how desperately the Peachtree City, Ga. native wanted to run at his home track. When Sorenson wasn't able to qualify the 41 car, Sterling Marlin stepped aside and let him drive the 40 car to a 19th-place finish. The crew added a lot of padding to the seat, and Sorenson told me before the race that he had a hard time reaching the clutch. It was a character builder for the rookie and his team, led by crew chief Brian Pattie. They'll learn a lot from Atlanta, and they'll grow stronger and closer. They may not realize it now, but they will in September. It was a very important team effort for them.

    Finish Line

    In addition to being a concrete track like Dover, Nashville is similar to the Monster Mile in that it's fast, and if there's trouble in front of you, it's hard to miss it so you have to have luck on your side. If you make just the slightest bit of contact with another driver — particularly in the corners — they are going around.

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