2021 NASCAR Cup Series preview: Nashville

There is a first time for everything, and the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series will give Nashville Superspeedway a go for a first date when they take to the track Sunday afternoon. 

Although both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series have experience at the track, the Cup Series cannot say the same as of late. As a result, an already parity-laden field will have to navigate through yet another unpredictable speedway where anything can truly happen. 

No driver might have as much momentum as Kyle Busch who, with his Xfinity win at the track Saturday evening, now has 100 career Xfinity victories to his name. Luckily for Busch, he has put together solid results in the Cup Series, too – the No. 18 machine for Joe Gibbs Racing has finished inside the top 10 in five of his past six Cup races dating back to his win at Kansas Speedway on May 2. Busch currently ranks seventh in season points (520). 

Although he has yet to clinch a playoff berth with a win, Denny Hamlin currently leads the field in season points (664). Hamlin’s nine top-five finishes is tied for first (Kyle Larson). In five career Xfinity races at Nashville, Hamlin has finished inside the top 10 in all five of them. Hamlin has finished inside the top 15 in all six Cup races he has taken part in dating back to May 2 (Kansas Speedway). 

Austin Dillon currently sits right above the projected playoff cutline (16th), and while there is still a way to go until the field can go postseason racing, the 31-year-old for Richard Childress Racing has been on the upswing as of late. Dating back to Apr. 11 (Martinsville Speedway), Dillon has only finished outside the top 15 once (16th on May 9 at Darlington Raceway). In two career Xfinity races at Nashville, Dillon has finished seventh (Apr. 23, 2011) and third (July 23, 2011). 

Finding consistent success has been much harder to come by for Matt DiBenedetto, who currently sits right below the projected playoff cutline (17th). After the 29-year-old finished inside the top 15 for seven consecutive races from Mar. 14-May 2, DiBenedetto’s best finish since has been 18th (May 30 at Charlotte Motor Speedway). In one career Xfinity race at Nashville, DiBenedetto has finished 10th (June 5, 2010). 

Stages for the race will end on lap 90, lap 185 and the finish on lap 300. Coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. 

UPDATE: Aric Almirola will start on the pole. It is his third career start on the pole and his first since Feb. 24, 2019 (Atlanta Motor Speedway).

Starting lineup:

Via Bob Pockrass, FOX Sports

Leave a Reply