Race number two for the 2016 ARCA Racing Series season is upon us as the Toledo, Ohio-based series descends upon Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville for Saturday’s Music City 200.
A stout entry list of 33-plus cars lays in wait to take on the banked half-mile just southwest of downtown Nashville with familiar names of Tom Hessert, Matt Kurzejewski, Brian Keselowski, John Wes Townley and Kyle Weatherman ready to go for the track’s coveted guitar trophy.
What’s to expect from the Fairgrounds this weekend? Read on for The Fourth Turn’s preview of the Music City 200.
With Daytona out of the way, the ARCA season is now set to get underway…
Yes, the Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona International Speedway is the official season opener for the ARCA Racing Series, however, you have to view Saturday’s Music City 200 as the true season opener. With 11 of the 20 races on this year’s schedule taking place on ovals (paved and dirt) one mile or less in length, the title will be won – or lost – on tracks similar to Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
There weren’t a lot of conclusions to make regarding who’s the strongest team in the field after Daytona – and it’s likely that we still won’t be able to make such a conclusion following Nashville. The most important thing to be gained out of the second race on the schedule though is momentum. Getting off to a strong start at Nashville is imperative for being near the top of the standings once we get closer to autumn.
Rookie Chase Briscoe sitting at the top of the standings, sort of…
While John Wes Townley is the official points leader exiting Daytona, Cunningham Motorsports’s Chase Briscoe is the de facto championship leader as Townley will not make a full run at the title. Of drivers that are expected to run the entirety of the season, Briscoe holds the points lead over Bo LeMastus by 10 points and teammate Kevin Thomas Jr. by 15 points.
The Cunningham operation is looking for a rebound season after going to victory lane only twice in 2015 – once with Kyle Weatherman and once with Trevor Bayne. The team’s bread and butter last season were the short tracks as Weatherman took home the Calypso Lemonade Short Track Challenge award; yet, strangely enough, the team didn’t pick up their wins on short tracks last season.
Kyle Weatherman looking for Nashville redemption…
Weatherman seized the pole award for last year’s running of the Music City 200 and led the first 71 laps of the event yet faded late. This season, the 18-year-old out of Wentzville, Mo. has an additional year of experience under his belt and is racing with a new team, Lira Motorsports. The fact that Grant Enfinger, last year’s Nashville winner and eventual series champion, is not entered also improves Weatherman’s prospects for this year’s running.
So long as Weatherman and his No. 58 crew stay on top of the changes in the track throughout the day, Weatherman may be looking at his second career win in the ARCA Racing Series.
Tom Hessert, Matt Kurzejewski and Josh Williams search for early rebounds…
Series regulars Tom Hessert, Matt Kurzejewski and Josh Williams each got behind the eight ball at Daytona. Hessert and Williams each had their own respective tire issues at the superspeedway and respectively finished in the 28th and 19th positions. Kurzejewski was involved in a Lap 18 multi-car accident that took his No. 52 Toyota out of action, relegating the 24-year-old to a 29th-place finish.
All three drivers are expected to be favorites for the championship this year and are looking for turnaround efforts this Saturday. Hessert and Williams both ran in last year’s running of the Music City 200 with both drivers respectively finishing 19th and seventh.
The Music City 200 is set for a 8:00 p.m CT start time this year and will have live audio streaming on ARCAracing.com and will be broadcast on a tape delay on American Sports Network (ASN.) The Fourth Turn will be present at the track on Saturday, so make sure to follow @KPokrefky, @TravisEHaston and @TheFourthTurn on Twitter for live updates!
Photo Credit: ARCAracing.com