Column By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – NASHVILLE, TN – If Nashville didn’t know NASCAR was in town, the city found out emphatically on Wednesday night, when the world’s best stock car drivers lit up Broadway in the heart of the Music City’s nightclub district.
Some of them lit up Broadway, that is.
On a night when veteran 40-somethings ruled the Burnouts on Broadway, Kevin Harvick took down the rest of the competition, destroying the rear tires in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford and winning in a walk off—leaving his disabled Mustang in the center of the street.
“Everybody tries to overcomplicate everything,” Harvick said afterward. “I drove right to the dry area (after an earlier rain had dampened the asphalt). My hope was that we could blow the tires off down to the wheels, shoot sparks and walk off.
“We did everything but the sparks… My whole purpose was to make up for a year without winning.”
Harvick took over the top spot from fellow veteran Kurt Busch, who, like Harvick, had a secret weapon under his hood—one that produced copious smoke as Busch put the No. 1 Chevrolet through its paces.
“Given that Ganassi’s (Chip Ganassi Racing) shutting down, that was our backup car from Phoenix with a bona fide race engine in it.”
Most other drivers had tamer power plants, but that didn’t prevent them from breaking transmissions.
As soon as NASCAR Cup Series championship runner-up Martin Truex Jr. released the clutch to start his routine, the car stalled and wouldn’t refire. Alex Bowman, William Byron and Tyler Reddick had similar issues during their runs.
“Hendrick Motorsports really let me down,” Bowman said, clearly tongue-in-cheek. “I broke it way too early, as soon as I dumped the clutch.”
In a competition that featured the 16 Cup Playoff drivers, along with NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Daniel Hemric, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Ben Rhodes and ARCA Menards Series champion Ty Gibbs, drivers found novel ways to provide entertainment.
The crowd that packed the restraining barriers five-deep along Broadway got a back flip from Hemric and a salute from Gibbs as he stood on his driver’s-side window ledge. Denny Hamlin bounced off a jersey barrier and kept going, turning in a creditable performance.
NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Larson closed the show with an extended run as his father—in the passenger seat—held the steering wheel aloft out the window as Larson deftly guided the car.
“That was a lot of fun,” Larson said. “I hope the fans enjoyed it. I know I did. I’m like shaking. That was more nerve-wracking trying not to embarrass ourselves right there than we do for a whole race.
“I enjoyed having my dad riding passenger with me, and we got to explode some tires, so that was cool.”
But it wasn’t enough for show hosts Kyle Petty and Rutledge Wood, who administered an arbitrary scoring system that gave the nod to Harvick.
When the three Team Penske drivers—Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney—did their burnouts together, putting the noses of their cars together in a triangle and generating a thick cloud of smoke, they received a score of nine—three points each.
Harvick, on the other hand, got a 10 from Petty and a nine from Wood, finally picking up his first victory of 2021.
Trackhouse Racing enhances Nashville identity with new sponsorship
Before the Burnouts on Broadway, Trackhouse Racing, co-owned by Justin Marks and rapper Pitbull, unveiled a new paint scheme for its No. 99 Next Gen race car, to be driven by Daniel Suarez.
The occasion? An announcement that Trackhouse Entertainment Group and several Nashville hospitality icons will work together during the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Specifically, Tootsie’s World-Famous Orchid Lounge will serve as Suarez’s primary sponsor for six races, including the season-opening Daytona 500 in February. The paint scheme also will appear on the car at both Bristol races, both Talladega events and the June date at Nashville Superspeedway.
Though the team’s race shop will remain in North Carolina, Trackhouse already has strong ties to Nashville, and the sponsorship—which will include the “Visit Nashville” logo, Opry Entertainment’s “Ole Red” brand and the Nashville Convention and Visitor’s Corp. on the car—only serves to strengthen them.
“It was very important to come here to Nashville,” Suarez said after the unveiling outside Tootsie’s. “The team, in a way, is based here… Our race team is based in Charlotte, but the team was born here.
“We have offices here. The president of the team (Ty Norris) is here. The owner of the team (Marks) is here. One of the primary sponsors of the team is here. We are certainly connected with Nashville.”
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