TOLEDO, Ohio — The April 7 Music City 200 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville will be more than the second race of the season for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, it will also kick off the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge and the Bill France 4 Crown championship.
Cunningham Motorsports, coming with two cars, will be the team most will be attempting to dethrone. Cunningham went back-to-back in both categories in 2015 and ’16, winning the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge title and the Bill France 4 Crown both years.
Kyle Weatherman was the Short Track champion in ’15 with Chase Briscoe taking the title the following year. Briscoe won the overall national championship, also won the Bill France 4 Crown title last year. A mix of Weatherman and Blake Jones secured the France 4 Crown in ’15.
Crew chief Chad Bryant, another key component at Cunningham, says the bar’s going to get raised again this year.
“Competition’s getting better,” said Bryant. “We’ve been so good these last few years…everybody’s had to go to work on their stuff. We’ve been so good on short tracks…we put a lot of pressure on everybody else to get better. But as good as the competition is now, we have no choice but to get better.”
Meaning that Cunningham Motorsports isn’t exactly sitting on its hands.
“We’re building new cars…trying to advance our program to keep it where it needs to be,” Bryant said. “Everybody else is doing their homework. We’ll be right there in competition for both the Short Track title and the Bill France 4 Crown, and I think both of our teams will compete for it….in years past it’s been one or the other.”
Cunningham Motorsports teammates Shane Lee and Dalton Sargeant are off to great starts, finishing third and fourth, respectively, in the season opener at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
Lee drives the No. 22 Big Tine Ford with former NASCAR Cup champion crew chief Paul Andrews calling the shots while Sargeant drives the No. 77 Big Tine Ford with crew chief Bryant.
No doubt the entry list is loaded with top-notch talent and quality equipment from several powerhouse teams including Venturini Motorsports, coming with drivers Christian Eckes, Raphael Lessard and Zane Smith. All three drivers tested at Nashville last week.
MDM Motorsports is also bringing more than one car with drivers Sheldon Creed and newcomer Vinnie Miller. Miller will be making his ARCA Racing Series debut in the No. 8 Fuller Racing Toyota. Creed is a Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series champion.
Ken Schrader Racing entered two cars, one with Daytona winner Austin Theriault in the No. 52 and another with newcomer Tony Mrakovich scheduled to make his first start in the No. 11 Schrader-Hillenburg Toyota.
Joe Gibbs Racing has also filed an entry with rookie Riley Herbst. Herbst announced a full ARCA schedule in the No. 18 NOS Energy-Terrible Herbst Toyota; however, age restrictions prevented him from competing at Daytona during the race. Since Daytona, Herbst has turned 18 and is good to go for the full season ahead. Nashville marks his first ARCA start.
Other notable entries include Michael Lira, Thomas Praytor, Bret Holmes, A.J. Fike, Gus Dean and Chad Finley.