ES: Music City: Round eight preview

* Inaugural Music City Motorplex NASCAR Busch East Series Race Adds To Track's History * After Testing, Michelle Theriault Sets Sites On Top-Three Music City Performance * Tennessee State Fairgrounds Racing A Nashville Tradition Since ...

* Inaugural Music City Motorplex NASCAR Busch East Series Race Adds To Track's History

* After Testing, Michelle Theriault Sets Sites On Top-Three Music City Performance

* Tennessee State Fairgrounds Racing A Nashville Tradition Since 1958

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 18, 2007) -- The NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series competes in the inaugural event at a track new to the series for the fourth time in eight races in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday evening.

Historic Music City Motorplex at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville hosts the Music City 150 Sunday, July 22, at 7 p.m. Central Time. The .596-mile high-banked paved oval is a rich in NASCAR history having hosted 42 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events between 1958 and 1984. In addition, the track has been a star-maker for some who have competed in the weekly Saturday night races. Graduates include Sterling Marlin, Bobby Hamilton Sr. and Jr., Darrell Waltrip and Mike Alexander.

The Music City 150 was a hot topic in the NASCAR Busch East Series garage area at Thompson, Conn., last weekend. Drivers talked about the similarities between the Thompson track and the Nashville track, but quickly noted differences, too. Some drivers are taking their Thompson cars to Music City.

At .625-mile, Thompson is a longer oval than Music City's .596 track. But Music City has higher banking at 18 degrees than Thompson's 16 degrees. Music City was last paved after the 1995 season. Thompson's asphalt is half the age, but both coatings are relatively new compared to many facilities. Some drivers say the Music City pavement texture is coarser than Thompson's.

At least one driver says that's fine with her.

NASCAR Busch East Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Michelle Theriault, 21, of Bristol, Conn., tested her Spraker Racing No. 37 Glock, Inc. Chevrolet at Music City several weeks before this Sunday's event.

"I was kind of surprised about the banking at Nashville," Theriault said. "It's a little more banked and a lot more forgiving. You can be a lot more aggressive there it seems. However, it's a lot bumpier track, so tire wear is more of an issue there and you really have to conserve what you have. It's the kind of track I seem to do well on."

NASCAR BUSCH EAST SERIES -- NASHVILLE ADVANCE

The Music City 150 offers a prime opportunity for Theriault to put her potential on display. In the rookie's first event in the 2007 NASCAR Busch East Series season-opener in Greenville, S.C., she finished eighth. The Greenville surface is similar in its coarse texture, but has almost no banking. At Thompson with its higher banking, she ran a steady race and missed a top-10 finish only because of being caught in a late race accident.

"If everything comes together -- and we're overdue for that kind of night -- we think we'll have a top-three car at Music City," Theriault said.

"As far as the driving lines, Music City and Thompson are very, very similar. You go into the corners pretty low, you kind of let it wash up in the center and stay high off the corner up where the grip is," she said.

Theriault arrives at Music City with three top-10 finishes through the first seven races, and a few "should-have-beens."

"Going into the season we were looking for as little mechanical failures as possible, but they're inevitable. Some things just are," Theriault said. "We had one race where the engine went bad. In another, something that rarely breaks and it just happens. But we started out with an eighth place; we had a top 10 when there were 55 cars there at Elko, Minn., when the best-of-the-best were there (for a combination event with the NASCAR West Series in May.)

"Overall we're very, very pleased. Going to the track each week, knowing we are capable of being competitive is a huge breakthrough for us and the team. There are a few things I'd like to improve on, like being consistently in the top 10, and work on qualifying a little better. We haven't been bad at qualifying, but getting that extra one-tenth-of-a-second makes such a difference."

NEWS & NOTES

* The race ... The inaugural Music City 150 is the eighth race for the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series in 2007. It is the only Tennessee appearance for the series.

* The track ... The Tennessee State Fairgrounds speedway opened in 1958 as a high-banked half-mile oval with a quarter-mile sharing the front straightaway. Following the 1969 season, the track was enlarged to .596-mile, and the banking was reduced from 35 degrees to 18 degrees and remains the same today.

* Competing for Showdown spot ... NASCAR Busch East Series drivers still have six events left to secure a spot in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown by winning a race. Only Grand National race winners and champions of the NASCAR Developmental Series will be locked in to the field. All others must race their way in. Joey Logano, Matt Kobyluck, Sean Caisse and Eddie MacDonald have secured spots in the Showdown with Busch East wins.

* NASCAR Busch East Series at Music City ... Although Sunday's event is the first appearance of the NASCAR Busch East Series at Music City Motorplex, many NASCAR divisions have appeared there over the years including NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, NASCAR Busch Series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the former NASCAR Elite Division.

FAST FACTS

What: Music City 150
NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series Race # 8

Where: Music City Motorplex, Nashville, Tenn.
When: 7 p.m., Sunday, July 22.

Track layout: .596-mile paved oval
Distance: 150 Laps, 89.40 miles.

Posted Awards: $122,172

TV: HDNet, Live (Enhanced replay, SPEED, Noon, August 15, 2007)

2006 winner: Inaugural Event
2006 polesitter: Inaugural event

Records: Inaugural event

Pre-race schedule: Sunday -- Practice, 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m.-3 p.m. Qualifying, 5:00 p.m. Note: All times subject to change.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Darrell Waltrip , Sterling Marlin , Matt Kobyluck , Joey Logano , Sean Caisse , Michelle Theriault , Eddie MacDonald