What to Watch: Full guide for Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway
Your one-stop shop for all the information and details you need to know for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway.
Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway (⏰ 3:30 p.m. ET | 📺 NBCSN | 📻 MRN, SiriusXM)
Everything you need to know for Sunday’s inaugural Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway and 17th points-paying event of the season.
Where: Nashville Superspeedway, a 1.333-mile D-shaped oval just outside of Nashville, Tennessee
Practice: Saturday at 2:05 p.m. ET on NBCSN | 50-minute open session | Practice recap
Qualifying: Sunday at 11:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN | Single-car, one-lap qualifying | Starting lineup
Grand Marshal: Luke Combs, country-music artist
TV/Radio: NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Forecast: A 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 87 degrees. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph.
Race Distance: 300 laps, 399 miles
Stages: 90 | 185 | 300
Pit-road speed: 45 mph
Caution car speed: 55 mph
Nashville 101: Get the full lowdown
Entry list: See who’s in the field
Pit-stall assignments: See who is pitting where | Past experience may be key on pit road
Five to watch
Here are five big story lines we’ll be following at Nashville Superspeedway.
1. As the number in question has increased for the last month, this week we ask: Can Kyle Larson make it four wins in a row? Two victories came before the All-Star Race. Then, he dominated the $1 million exhibition. Just 16 races into the 36-race season and the newest driver at Hendrick Motorsports is only 190 laps away from his most-ever laps led in a single season. Surely a new, unfamiliar track will slow him down, right? The field, and his teammates, better hope so. Bring it on, Nashville.
2. Don’t be surprised if Kurt Busch, Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe run well early. The three drivers, each representing their manufacturer, participated in the Goodyear tire test back in March. Then, they even got to return in April for an additional tire test. With just a lone practice session and a single-lap qualifying, Busch, Bell and Briscoe will have by far the most 2021 track time out of any NASCAR driver at Nashville this weekend.
3. More good news for the Busch brothers. Kyle Busch and Kurt have enjoyed a ton of success at concrete-surfaced tracks (Bristol Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway). Kyle leads all active drivers with 11 combined wins, and Kurt is not far behind at seven. Series veteran Kevin Harvick has also done well, historically, picking up six wins of his own. Kurt and Harvick are each winless in 2021 and need a key win to solidify a playoff push, and it shouldn’t be a surprise if one comes this week.
4. Alex Bowman is in the midst of a career year at Hendrick Motorsports. Already notching two wins earlier this year, he is on the verge of setting a new career-best top-10 streak if he can pull it off this weekend with his fifth consecutive. He has made massive strides this season, and what’s more motivating than a new contract through 2023? Teammate Chase Elliott is the current series-best streak holder for the season with six in a row, dating back to Kansas Speedway.
5. Even though Denny Hamlin‘s early season dominance has seemingly cooled off a bit, he still holds the best average running position this season at 6.38 — almost two whole positions ahead of second-place William Byron. Though without a win, Hamlin still has a 47-point lead on Larson in the regular-season points standings. The 2018 season was the last time Hamlin went winless, and even then it was the only time in his entire Cup Series career since joining full time in 2006. That’s no easy feat. Expect him to be in Victory Lane when the odds are stacked against him. It might even be this week.
Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.
• Power Rankings: Brad Keselowski, Team Penske back on the rise | Scope the ranks
• Paint Scheme Preview: Check out the Music City looks | See the schemes
• Fantasy Fastlane: See which drivers to use, avoid | Full Fantasy advice | Set your roster
• Preview Show: Will a driver with past success be singing in Victory Lane? | Watch the show
Get in on the action
Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy.
• Betting odds for Nashville race | See the odds
• Sportsbooks likely sweating Kyle Larson until Phoenix | Learn more
• Experience at Nashville a betting factor? | See which drivers have raced here
• Take a shot at winning cash prizes with the free-to-play Jackpot Races app | Hit the jackpot
• Full guide to 2021 NASCAR Fantasy Live game | Get the FAQ
Every track has a story to tell. Here’s what we’ve seen go down at Nashville Superspeedway in the past.
• They’ve been here before: Active NASCAR drivers to win at Nashville | See them all
• Takin’ it back to the early days: NASCAR‘s history in Nashville | Learn more
• Testing, testing: A first look at Cup Series cars turning laps at Nashville | View the images
Hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.
• Sunday will be the first-ever Cup Series event held at Nashville Superspeedway and the 175th different track in series history.
• At 1.333 miles, Nashville Superspeedway is the longest concrete oval on the 2021 NASCAR schedule.
• With the track formerly hosting Xfinity Series and Truck Series events, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch lead all active drivers with 12 starts each.
• Through 16 points-paying races, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman are the only repeat winners so far this season.
• Starting position isn’t always key — eight races have been won by drivers who started the 10th or worse.
• Only three races this season have had qualifying, and Chevrolet has raced on to the pole position in every one of them.
Catch the pack
Read up on all the headlines from the week leading up to Sunday’s race.
• Get an inside look on how NASCAR made it’s way back to Music City with “The Return of Nashville Speedway“
• Hendrick Motorsports and Alex Bowman signed a contract extension, keeping Bowman in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet through 2023 | Read more
• Kaulig Racing makes big plans for 2022 season with Justin Haley and AJ Allmendinger | See them here
• Jeff Gordon rumbled in the dirt, testing a sprint car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway dirt track | See images
• Track-by-track updates, protocols for grandstand seating and fan access as COVID-19 restrictions ease | Read more
• Get Bioethanol set to wave green flag on new era | Read more
• Austin Dillon running Xfinity races at Watkins Glen International and Indianapolis Road Course | Read more
Notable quotes from the stars of the sport heading into Sunday’s race.
"I am excited for the Nashville Superspeedway — we are getting back into the Nashville market. That track has been sitting there for a few years now, so to get back out there is going to be great. They have sold out for this race weekend. That is awesome to have all the fans and to have a packed house." — Erik Jones, driver of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet
“Nashville is a tricky place. It races like a short track and has short-track features, but it also has the characteristics of a mile-and-a-half track. That‘s going to be your biggest issue: finding a setup that balances that line perfectly. You want it to handle similar to how it would at a concrete short track like Dover but also handle well aero-wise like a mile-and-a-half. While we have limited notes across the board, we do know that it will also be a very temperature-sensitive track as well. There‘s going to be a lot of obstacles to overcome, but I think with William running the truck race and us having a practice session on the Cup side, we‘ll be as prepared as we can be. I‘m excited to get back to Nashville and see what we can do as a team.” — Rudy Fugle, crew chief of William Byron’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
“Nashville had pretty new concrete when we were there for those years. Since we‘ve not been there in a while, it will be interesting to find out what has changed and see what new bumps are there and what new things have kind of come up over the years. Obviously, so many advancements have been made since I was there last time. I‘m looking forward to getting back there this weekend with our M&M‘S Supra in the Xfinity Series. We‘ll be getting more track time with the Xfinity car on Saturday and hopefully it helps us learn for Sunday as well.” — Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota