75TH ANNIVERSARY FLASHBACK: CARL EDWARDS DOMINATED NASCAR XFINITY SERIES ACTION AT NASHVILLE SUPERSPEEDWAY IN A BIG WAY IN 2011
To help celebrate NASCAR’s 75th anniversary in 2023, Nashville Superspeedway will take a look back at some of the greatest performances that have taken place on the speedy 1.3-mile tri-oval.
During its relatively young association with NASCAR, NSS has hosted two Cup races, 23 Xfinity Series races, and 15 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races.
As fans look forward to the June 23-25 running of the Ally 400, where all three of NASCAR’s top touring series will be featured during the weekend and certainly more history will be made, the first diamond recap comes from a pair of Xfinity Series races that unfolded during the 2011 season. These races stand out because one driver dominated both in grand fashion. As a significant point in NASCAR history, the trophies presented at these two Xfinity Series races were the last for NSS on the NASCAR circuit for nearly a decade.
Truly, no one said goodbye to the track sitting just outside Music City quite like Carl Edwards. Edwards had already made a name for himself in Nashville – not by singing country tunes down on Broadway – but by winning three consecutive Xfinity races. As part of that trio of races he also swept the two 2007 races which led to his Xfinity Series championship.
However, in 2011, Edwards, who was a full-time NASCAR Cup driver and not eligible for an Xfinity Series season title, simply dominated the competition at Nashville Superspeedway.
The Nashville 300 on April 23rd saw Edwards start seventh in a stacked field. Edwards took the lead at the controls of his No. 60 Ford from Joey Logano on lap 18 and held onto it until lap 50 when a caution came out. Losing the lead to Logano in the pits, Edwards made quick work of the future Cup Series champion and held the lead until the green flag pit cycle on lap 119. A span of short green flag runs hindered Edwards from taking the lead until lap 189. After a 10-lap battle with Kyle Busch and defending Xfinity Series champion Brad Keselowski, Edwards expanded his lead and took an exciting second win of the season.
All totaled, Edwards led 148 laps of the race before performing his customary backflip and grabbing the custom NSS-themed Guitar that was presented to him in Victory Lane.
“Early in the race, our car was really superior,” Edwards said. “I could kind of stretch out a lead whenever I wanted to, but at the end of the race, I was really pedaling for all I had. The guys in the 18 (Busch) … did a good job of adjusting their car.
“It was kind of exciting at the beginning of the race. I thought we were going to run off with this thing, it’s going to be easy, but (at the end) that was white-knuckling, driving as hard as I could drive, racing him and Brad (Keselowski).”
Entering the 2011 Federated Auto Parts 300 later that year on July 23rd, Edwards had dominated both the Xfinity and Cup Series. Edwards accumulated four wins along with five additional top 5s, all of which were runner-up finishes in NASCAR’s second series. On the Cup level, Edwards held the points lead over five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson.
Unlike his jaunt in April, Edwards was sick before this race, but that didn’t stop him. Starting third, Edwards took 58 laps to get around Keselowski before a caution came out on lap 82. Leading while coming into the pits, Edwards was flagged for speeding, sending him to the tail-end of the longest line. Edwards charged through the field to retake the lead on lap 121 from future Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon. Edwards lost the lead again in the pits on lap 178, but passed Dillon again five laps later and pulled away to score a comfortable Nashville Superspeedway sweep.
“I can’t believe I was leading and I sped on pit road,” Edwards said. “That was really, really not smart. But in the end, it made our night more fun. I probably learned more.”
After leading a race-best 124 laps, Edwards said his pre-race sickness was all but gone.
“I feel a lot better now, that’s for sure,” Edwards said with a smile.
Edwards is one of two drivers to win consecutive races at the track, joined by Ryan Preece, who has won both NASCAR Truck Series races since the Superspeedway has returned to the schedule. Edwards is also one of two drivers to have wins across multiple series joining Kyle Busch and still holds the most wins across all three NASCAR series (6) and the most Xfinity series wins (5) at Nashville.
The upcoming Ally 400 triple-header weekend (June 23-25) will kick off on Friday night with the Rackley Roofing 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN Radio) and will be followed Saturday afternoon with the Tennessee Lottery 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race (3:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, PRN Radio) before Sunday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race, the Ally 400, which will take the green flag at 7 p.m. ET (NBC, PRN Radio).
To purchase tickets for the thrilling high-speed, high-stakes Ally 400 weekend, please visit https://www.nashvillesuperspeedway.com/events/ally-400/ or call 866-RACE-TIX.