TOLEDO, Ohio – official series release — ARCA photo —
After a 23-year hiatus, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards returned to the tradition-rich Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville in 2015.
By popular demand, it’s coming back in 2016 – April 8-9 for a stock car double-header featuring the 200-lap ARCA national tour finale Saturday night preceded by a combined ARCA/CRA Super Series-Southern Super Series late model clash to set the stage beginning Friday.
The second event of the season for the ARCA Racing Series, on the heels of Daytona, will mark the 25th ARCA appearance at Nashville since its debut on the historic short track in 1959 when three-time ARCA champion Nelson Stacy won the inaugural 300-lap race.
Current ARCA Racing Series point leader John Wes Townley hopes to add his name to the impressive list of ARCA winners at Nashville, and he’s off to a great start. The Watkinsville, Ga., driver opened the season with a victory at Daytona Int’l Speedway, his second career win at Daytona. He’ll now look toward Nashville for what would be his career-first ARCA short track triumph.
“Our Nashville car’s done, ready to go,” Townley said. “I know we have a plan in place for a two day test at Nashville the 23rd and 24th (of March). I’m really looking forward to racing there. Raced a late model there but it’s been a while.”
Townley’s in the middle of a very busy race season, running the full NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule, several XFINITY Series races and at least 17 of the 20 ARCA races, including Nashville.
“Coming back to ARCA is really stress-free. I don’t mean to say there’s no pressure in ARCA, but for me coming back and running with ARCA is stress-free in comparison to everything else we’re doing. There’s nothing I don’t love about coming back and running with ARCA. It’s competitive, I love all the tracks and it’s getting back to my roots. I love it. Nashville is one of those iconic short tracks, and I’d love to be able to say I won there.”
Townley will be campaigning a brand new composite body car at Nashville straight out of his Athenian Motorsports shop.
In addition to being one of those “iconic” tracks, Nashville builds champions, especially for those who steer their way into the winner’s circle on the seasoned five-eighths-mile banked oval.
After Stacy’s ARCA win in ’59, other notable race winners/champions at Nashville include Jack Bowsher (ARCA champion), Don White (USAC Stock Car champion), Harold Smith (ARCA champion), Ramo Stott (ARCA champion), Moose Myers (ARCA champion), Marvin Smith (ARCA champion), David Green (NASCAR XFINITY champion) and most recently 2015 ARCA champion Grant Enfinger — who won last year’s ARCA 200.
Other ARCA winners at Nashville include Andy Hampton, Red Farmer and Coo Coo Marlin, all of whom were track champions in their own locales. Nineteen-time ARCA winner Bob Schacht won three consecutive races at Nashville in 1981, ’82 and ’83.
While racing began at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds as early as 1904, the track which evolved into the current day Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville held its first race in 1958. The track was also home to 42 NASCAR Sprint Cup races from 1958-1984 with Richard Petty leading all drivers with nine wins followed by Darrell Waltrip with eight. Other Cup winners include Joe Weatherly, David Pearson, Bobby Isaac, Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, Bobby Allison, Benny Parsons and Dale Earnhardt. The NASCAR XFINITY Series raced there nine times from 1984-2000, and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series held five races from 1996-2000.
Though last year’s ARCA Racing Series event was huge, this year’s will be even bigger with the addition of the ARCA/CRA Super Series and the Southern Super Series late models. The Friday, April 8 event will feature the Southern Super Series and the ARCA/CRA Super Series competing in separate points paying events, which will determine the line-up in a combined North-South Super Late Model Challenge on Saturday night, just prior to the ARCA 200.
CREDIT: ARCA Racing Series