Early this week we got a look at the Mayor of Nashville signing a letter of intent to bring NASCAR back to the Nashville Fair Grounds. This coming after a grassroots campaign and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s helpful push towards something that fans new and old can really enjoy.
The Fairgrounds have a rich history in NASCAR with a lot of great racing to enjoy. The track’s history in Cup stretches from 1958 to 1984 where Geoff Bodine won the last race ran in NASCAR’s top division. Now, this proposed deal to bring NFG back to the sport is currently only being proposed for Xfinity and Truck Series, but we all know that the potential for Cup to return as well is there. This is just everybody easing their way into it.
This process needs to be taken slowly anyway. The race track itself is not in terrible conditions to the effect of a place like North Wilkesboro, but the bleachers and surrounding area needs millions of dollars in renovations in order to get it NASCAR eligible, which is what the Mayor is promising. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of political work to be done like getting residents who live within a certain radius of the track to sign off and agree to the speedway.
These plans are still fairly fresh, but I think all fans can agree that NASCAR is going in the right direction with decisions like this. They are making a lot of changes that fans aren’t thrilled about with the cars themselves, but it seems like they are committed to ensuring we get the kind of racing that will entertain us for years to come.
In celebration of this news, I wanted to go back and look at the legends who got the opportunity to dominate the Fairgrounds and look at the top five drivers of all-time.
#5: Jim Paschal
Top Fives: 4
Top tens: 5
Average Finish: 6.1
I think Paschal had the potential to be even higher on this list, but his lack of starts in Nashville is obviously what’s holding him back. It was hard to put him over a lot of people when he has the least amount of starts of everyone I considered, but his numbers were too good not to acknowledge.
His numbers are actually only blotched by one poor finish of 25th in his first start at the track. He started third in that race and led 15 laps, but steering issues kept him from potentially getting his first win at the track but definitely having 6 straight top tens. He was dominant between 1961 and 1963 here winning 3 races in a row.
#4: Benny Parsons
Top Fives: 13
Top Tens: 16
Average Finish: 7.7
Of his 21 Cup Series victories, 3 of them came in Nashville, a place that Parson’s was always competitive at. He won once in a Ford for Bud Moore and his other two victories came back-to-back in his iconic #72 Chevrolet for DeWitt Racing.
He earns the fifth spot over a lot of legendary names because of his consistency at the track. Nashville was easily his best track with North Wilkesboro the only other place he came close to putting up comparable numbers. Sadly Parson wasn’t around to see his induction into the Hall of Fame nor will he be able to witness a track he has so much history at make a return to prominence.
#3: Darrell Waltrip
Top Fives: 19
Top Tens: 19
Average Finish: 6.9
Waltrip was the short track king in his day with numbers like this at Martinsville and Bristol as well. This was a place he was very comfortable at and only fell out of the top ten six times in his career here. It was hard to see these numbers and not have DW #1, but that just tells you how strong some names were at the Fairgrounds.
Waltrip actually participated in a late model event at the Fairgrounds back in 2017 and has been a proponent for Nashville Superspeedway returning this year. While he’s a native of Owensboro, Kentucky, he has a long history in Tennessee and will more than likely be a large presence in bringing the Fairgrounds back in the near future.
#2: Richard Petty
Top Fives: 24
Top Tens: 31
Average Finish: 6.6
There are not many tracks in NASCAR that Richard Petty is not the all-time winningest driver at. Winning 200 races will cover a lot of records throughout NASCAR and the Fairgrounds were no exception to that with his absolute dominance. Petty at one point won this race five times in a row, which is unmatched by any other winner at the Fairgrounds.
Richard Petty has been very vocal in his opinion of NASCAR lately, and while he hasn’t come out and vocally endorsed this news, I’m sure – like Waltrip – he’ll come out in support of the renovations for the Fairgrounds.
#1: Cale Yarborough
Top Fives: 13
Top Tens: 15
Average Finish: 4.7
As I said, Petty had so many starts and had so much dominance, but Yarborough had that same kind of dominance in half the starts. This was easily his best track and I truly believe he is the true master of the Nashville Fairgrounds.
I’m sure that once renovations are done and they have honors around the track for the legends of NASCAR, Yarborough should be featured heavily. He doesn’t need a statue or anything, but his ability to drive around this track should not be understated.