Nashville, Tenn. (WKRN)- It’s hard to talk about NASCAR, without mentioning Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s name. On Friday, the racing great was in Music City to promote the Mernards ARCA Series happening at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, but he was also there to talk about the importance of bringing NASCAR back to the track.
Earnhardt has history at the speedway, located just minutes from downtown Nashville. He took his first laps at the track in a late model stock car in 1996 and instantly fell in love with it.
“It was an eight-hour drive (to Nashville) with our gooseneck trailer. We were typically racing Friday nights in Florence, South Carolina and Saturday nights in Myrtle Beach. Any off weekend we knew exactly where we were going and that was to Nashville. The racing then was very healthy. Big car counts. It was a big track, much different than anything we had farther east,” said Earnhardt.
It’s been awhile since NASCAR has hosted a cup series at the fairgrounds, but Earnhardt says this is the perfect time to bring it back, adding another exciting short track the schedule.
Earnhardt added, “We could always use more short tracks. The racing that we see at the short tracks like Martinsville and Bristol is so exciting, and if we could bottle that up and take it all over the country, everyone would be in love with it. To add another short track to the schedule makes a lot of sense to me.”
NASCAR moved its banquet to Nashville in 2019, and he said it makes sense that the city would have its own race that fans would absolutely embrace.
“This is our home and we feel like we belong here. We feel like we fit together really well. We hope they (the fans) would feel the same way about the product that would be here, our races here,” said Earnhardt.
Earnhardt feels like things are headed in the right direction, adding that the conversation is “alive and well,” after Nashville Mayor John Cooper and Bristol Motor Speedway signed a letter of intent back in March. It would bring up to $50 million in funding for renovations at the track.
And if the Xfinity Series happens to come to Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway first, he will race.
“I run once a year. I’ll probably do that as long as I can and there should be a few more years of that. Hopefully we can get the Xfinity here soon; the next couple of years because I’d love to come out here and compete.”
There will be racing in Middle Tennessee this summer, as the NASCAR Cup Series comes to the Nashville Superspeedway in June, but Earnhardt’s heart is at the fairgrounds.