CONCORD, N.C. -- Nashville Superspeedway is another unknown track that the NASCAR Cup Series will take on this year, and Rudy Fugle is up for the challenge.
The crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE has experience at Nashville from his time in the Xfinity Series and Truck Series. he said the drivers will have to battle a combination of unique circumstances that are present at both short and intermediate tracks to be successful at the Tennessee venue.
“When you get there, you realize how tight the corners are, that they’re pretty flat, and how tight the exits off the corners are – you struggle with a lot of short-track things,” Fugle explained. “It’s a combination of short track and big track. You carry a lot of speed into the corners, but you got to stop in the middle and keep going. Just a lot of challenges that makes it fun but also difficult.”
Fugle said even though he has been to Nashville competitively three times with NASCAR, he and driver William Byron will be using their own experiences this weekend to determine the feel of the track. Byron will see how the tires hold up when he runs in the Truck race Friday night and they will use practice on Saturday as another litmus test.
“With only 50 minutes (of practice), we’re trying to figure out what part of the balance or what thing you need to attack the most,” Fugle said. “Like a lot of short tracks, you’re going to have multiple problems, whether that’s loose end, tighter center, and so on. You’re not going to have time to tackle all of those things. You’re going to have to figure out which ones makes the most lap time and which ones are going to help you win the most.
“To me, that’s the biggest challenge; not knowing what you’re going to have when you show up. It’s kind of normal, but when you’re not racing at the same type of track or that track in a long time, you don’t know what makes you stand out.”
Luckily for Byron and Fugle, the duo has been extremely consistent this season. Byron has one win, six top-five finishes and 12 top-10s out of 16 races so far in 2021. The feat is especially impressive since it’s Fugle’s first year in the Cup Series.
One of those top-five finishes was Byron’s fourth-place result at Dover International Speedway, which saw all the Hendrick Motorsports teammates finish 1-2-3-4. Fugle and Byron will be studying that race since both Dover and Nashville have concrete tracks.
“Any time you’re winning a bunch of races in a row as a company and things are going well, you definitely have confidence,” Fugle said. “But I think we’re always making sure all of our ducks are in a row because it’s different. There’s a lot of teams that have been, especially earlier this year, that have been better than us at the 750s. Being that aeropackage and whatnot, we’ve had some success lately but it’s also a place that Joe Gibbs Racing and the No. 22 car have been very fast, so we’ll have to be on our game.”
Fugle, Byron and their Hendrick Motorsports teammates will try to win the organization’s fifth points-paying race in a row at the inaugural Ally 400. The race at Nashville will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET and be broadcast on NBCSN.