SES: Music City: Season opener preview

NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series Heads 'Home' To Nashville * Cecil Chunn Eyes Hometown Win * Drivers to Make Time for Fans at Nashville-area AutoZone stores DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 7, 2004) -- The NASCAR AutoZone ...

NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series Heads 'Home' To Nashville

* Cecil Chunn Eyes Hometown Win
* Drivers to Make Time for Fans at Nashville-area AutoZone stores

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 7, 2004) -- The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series is coming home -- home to the historic confines of Music City Motorplex in Nashville and home to Tennessee, where division sponsor AutoZone is based. On April 17, the running of the AutoZone Spring Classic 150 will mark the series' 17th visit to Music City Motorplex since 1991.

The 5/8-mile fairgrounds facility has been part of NASCAR lore for several decades. Sterling Marlin, Darrell Waltrip, David and Jeff Green, Bobby Hamilton, Jeremy Mayfield, Casey Atwood and many other star drivers began their careers there. When the Southeast Series rolled into town, Matt Kenseth, Rick Crawford, Freddie Query, Wayne Anderson, Jeff Purvis, Jason Keller and Billy Bigley Jr. were among the drivers who thrilled fans with their exciting style of racing.

Under the watchful eye of the late promoter "Uncle" Bob Harmon, the track was an active participant in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series and a regular stop on the All Pro Series (now Southeast Series) schedule. Today, Track Operator Joe Mattioli III and General Manager Jack Deery have brought the track back into the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series and will host the Southeast Series on two occasions this season -- the April 17 opening event and the season finale Sept. 25.

Fourth-year Southeast Series driver Cecil Chunn, of Spring Hill, Tenn., is optimistic about the series' return to his home track.

"We're excited to go back to Nashville," said Chunn. "I've got thousands of laps at that place. It'll be nice to go somewhere I know. I think we've got a good chance at winning, based on how our testing went over the winter.

"It's always nice to be able to race in front of a hometown crowd and race on a track that you're accustomed to. It's a big, fast, short track. People don't realize just how fast it is as a 5/8-mile track."

Chunn, who has 10 years of experience at the track in Late Model and Sportsman Late Model divisions, last competed at Music City Motorplex in 2001, during the Southeast Series' most recent visit. While his experience on the oval gives him a slight edge over his competitors, he'll need to earn a spot in the field just like everyone else.

Over $47,000 in prize money is up for grabs in the AutoZone Spring Classic 150, along with $1,050 in special awards from Budweiser, Featherlite Trailers and POWERade. The starting field for the 150-lap event will include up to 30 cars, and will be determined by time trials on Saturday afternoon. The fastest 25 cars will earn the first 25 starting positions on the grid and the 26th-30th spots in the field are available as provisional starting positions.

Several drivers are also racing with something even greater in mind -- a NASCAR championship. The AutoZone Spring Classic 150 is the first of 12 races on the 2004 Southeast Series schedule. Post-season awards totaling nearly $169,000 will be shared by the top 20 drivers in the final point standings.

The top 10 drivers, meanwhile, will receive an invitation to compete in the second annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, Nov. 11-13 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. This $500,000 showcase event includes a non-points race featuring the top 10 drivers from each of the four series which comprise the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division -- the Midwest Series, Northwest Series, Southeast Series and Southwest Series -- combined in a single 40-car All-Star field.

Following the AutoZone Spring Classic 150 at Music City Motorplex, the Southeast Series continues its 2004 schedule April 24 at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

Get in the Zone! Southeast Series drivers to appear at Nashville-area AutoZone stores ... In conjunction with the season-opening event at Music City Motorplex, several Southeast Series drivers are scheduled to appear at area AutoZone stores. On Thursday, April 15 from 5-8 p.m., the following drivers will visit the following stores to display their race cars, meet fans and sign autographs.

4609 Andrew Jackson, Hermitage, Tenn. -- Kevin Prince and Michael Faulk

501 Gallatin Road North, Madison, Tenn. -- Allen Karnes

4815 Nolensville Road, Nashville, Tenn. -- Cecil Chunn and Jason Hogan

NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series fans are encouraged to stop by and meet the drivers.


What: AutoZone Spring Classic 150 (Race No. 1 of 12 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series)
Where: Music City Motorplex, Nashville, Tenn.
When: 7:30 p.m. (ET), Saturday, April 17, 2004.

Track layout: 0.596-mile oval.
Race length: 150 laps/89.40 miles.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): 12:00-1:30 p.m. Practice, 4:45 p.m. Time Trials


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Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Darrell Waltrip , Matt Kenseth , Jeremy Mayfield , Jason Keller , Jeff Green , Sterling Marlin , Casey Atwood , Rick Crawford , Jeff Purvis , Billy Bigley , Wayne Anderson