NASCAR Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Dale Jarrett visited Nashville Superspeedway on Tuesday to share their thoughts on the track, the 2021 Cup Series season, and the sport as a whole with local media during a Goodyear Tire Test.
Also joining the group was veteran crew chief Steve Letarte, who along with Jarrett will be NBCSN analysts during their broadcast of the “Ally 400” NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, June 20, the kickoff to NBC’s coverage of NASCAR for 2021. The “Ally 400” NASCAR Cup Series race (2:30 p.m. CT) will be the first NASCAR Cup Series race in Middle Tennessee in 37 years.
Goodyear tire test participants included 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kurt Busch (No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing), Christopher Bell (No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing) and Chase Briscoe (No. 14 Ford, Stewart-Haas Racing).
See below for highlighted quotes from the event’s press conference and participants.
DARRELL WALTRIP (NASCAR HALL OF FAMER, THREE-TIME NASCAR CUP SERIES CHAMPION):
- On the excitement of Tuesday’s event: “I was excited about the track re-opening after 10 years. The Cup guys haven’t been here since 1984. Just to be here and hearing the engines run with the tire test, business is about to pick up. It’s going to be a huge event.”
- On the importance of the Nashville market: “This market has always been full of race fans and great drivers. When NASCAR brought the banquet here, and saw the response. I think we’re sitting on a gold mine. I think we’re going to see an incredible turnout and an incredible race.”
DALE JARRETT (NASCAR HALL OF FAMER, 1999 NASCAR CUP SERIES CHAMPION):
- On driving a concrete track: “Where am I going to find grip? You’re running so fast here. On concrete, I don’t know if you feel the car under you as much as other places. The driver really has to get under the wheel. The driver has a chance to showcase his talent more at a track like this.”
- On NASCAR adding Nashville Superspeedway to its 2021 schedule: “We’ve got to get back to a lot of the things that made this sport what it is and Nashville is that perfect blend. Nashville gives the fans an opportunity to go to a great city and spend their vacation dollars in a great place. For me, this was the biggest change for the sport in getting more back to its roots and what’s important.”
STEVE LETARTE (FORMER CREW CHIEF FOR NASCAR LEGENDS JEFF GORDON AND DALE EARNHARDT JR.):
- On what he would tell a race team heading to Nashville Superspeedway: “This is a clean slate. This is very unique. The track is a little like Dover, but not exactly like anywhere. As a team, I’d be selling the opportunity. Rarely does a young driver have an opportunity to have an advantage of the experience.”
- On the wide-open 2021 NASCAR Cup Series championship race: “This year is the toughest one to pick a favorite. The schedule is very chaotic. It’s easy to get into a rhythm when everything is the same. This schedule is anything but consistent, dirt, road courses, etc.
KURT BUSCH (2004 NASCAR CUP SERIES CHAMPION):
- “It’s great to rekindle an old friendship. I haven’t been out here in many years and it hasn’t changed a bit. The concrete is very consistent and I think the track is going to be fun to race on with all the other cars out there and, more importantly, it’s something new and refreshing.”
CHASE BRISCOE (2021 NASCAR CUP SERIES ROOKIE OF THE YEAR CONTENDER):
- I love racing on concrete. The concrete tracks, there’s a lot more tire wear and it allows for some slipping and sliding. I’m glad there’s another one [on the schedule] now. For our team, coming to a new track, at least we’ll have a general idea on what to do [after the test].”
The event was the first tire test at Nashville Superspeedway since it was announced last summer that the site would return to the NASCAR schedule.
Busch, Bell and Briscoe all are scheduled to compete in the “Ally 400” NASCAR Cup Series race, the centerpiece of Nashville Superspeedway’s Father’s Day Weekend tripleheader, which also includes the “Rackley Roofing 200” NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race (7 p.m. CT, FS1) on Friday, June 18 and the NASCAR Xfinity Series race (2:30 CT, NBCSN) on Saturday, June 19.