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Nashville Superspeedway to host Cup race in 2021

Chase Elliott says that racing NASCAR's compressed schedule reminds him of his short-track days and that the industry is learning how it can operate with more simplicity to maximize the well-being of competitors.

The NASCAR Cup Series will race at Nashville Superspeedway in 2021, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

As part of a four-year sanctioning agreement with NASCAR, the track in Lebanon, Tennessee’s first Cup race is tentatively scheduled for June 21, 2021.

The 1.333-mile oval is owned by Dover Motorsports Inc., which also owns Dover International Speedway. One of Dover’s two race dates will be moved to Nashville. Next year’s Cup race at Dover is tentatively scheduled for May 16 or May 23.

According to a filing with the SEC, the cost of making Nashville Superspeedway ready to host a Cup race will be $7-$10 million over the next two years.

In an afternoon teleconference, Denis McGlynn, president and COO of Dover Motorsports, said the speedway is “in great shape. There are some needs to replace some SAFER wall that we cannibalized over the years to bring to Dover. ... The buildings need to all be gone over for all of the infrastructure that services them and the fixtures inside. We’ll be spending money on new carpets, whatever, air‑conditioning units, all that other stuff.”

McGlynn said a sellout for a race at the speedway would be 25,000 people.

“As we’ve done in the past out there, we’ll augment our permanent seats with portable seats for this first go around,” McGlynn said. “We always like to make sure we have a solid market that we can rely on before we go to the investment for permanent seats. But we’re targeting somewhere between 25,000 and 50,000 attendance for that.”

The SEC filing lists the total purse and sanction fees to be paid by Nashville for the events over the next four years: 2021 – $8.6 million, 2022 – $9.0 million, 2023 – $9.4 million and 2024 – $9.9 million. Estimated live broadcast revenue to be recognized by Nashville for the events is approximately: 2021 – $18.2 million, 2022 – $18.9 million, 2023 – $19.9 million and 2024 – $20.8 million.

“Thanks to the collaboration of Dover Motorsports and our broadcast partners, we are excited to bring NASCAR racing back to Nashville, a place where the passion for our sport runs deep,” NASCAR President Steve Phelps said in a release. “The Nashville market is a vital one for our sport, and bringing NASCAR Cup Series racing to Nashville Superspeedway will be an integral building block in helping us further deliver on our promise in creating a dynamic schedule for 2021.”
The move to the superspeedway likely means that Speedway Motorsports’ efforts to bring NASCAR back to Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville will not take place in 2021.

“The news that NASCAR will bring a Cup race to Wilson County and the greater Nashville region in 2021 is a positive move for the sport of NASCAR and for NASCAR fans,” Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith said in statement. “In recent years, we’ve made it very clear that we think Nashville is a place where NASCAR should be for the future and not just the past. Our efforts to work with state and local government officials to revive the historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway will continue. We believe that the beloved short track in downtown Nashville provides tremendous opportunity to be a catalyst for year-round tourism and entertainment development.”

Nashville Superspeedway hosted Xfinity and Gander RV & Outdoors Series races from 2001-11.

Nashville will be the first new facility for the Cup Series since it began racing at Kentucky Speedway in 2011.

Denis said the discussion about adding Nashville to the schedule began during the Cup Series Awards Banquet in Nashville last December.

‘We had a chance to sit down with the NASCAR leadership and listen to where everybody was on this subject,” McGlynn said. “We talked about a list of possibly 10 markets that NASCAR had identified for penetration. And as it turned out, No. 1 on that list was Nashville. And, of course, us having a track already built in Nashville led to the conversation that basically resulted in what we’ve announced today.”

McFlynn called the deal a “win‑win‑win for everybody, specifically for our company now that we’ll be able to have two operating Cup tracks, one here on the East Coast in the middle of major metropolitan areas, and the other in what is going to be the hottest market in NASCAR.”

Dover has hosted two Cup races a year since 1971. It has had a race weekend postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dover is expected to host a Cup doubleheader Aug. 22-23.

“It looks more and more like we’ll be hosting a doubleheader,” Tatoian told the AP. “That’s a strong scenario and that’s what we’re focused on.”