The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rolls into Music City Friday for a one-day show with the Nashville 200 at the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway.
At stake will be the usual points and money, along with a treasured trophy: a custom-made Gibson Les Paul guitar, the signature trophy at the track.
Aric Almirola, who is second in Truck Series points, reckons he’d like to get a guitar on Friday night, and given the way his No. 51 Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota Tundra has been running this season, that seems like a distinct possibility.
Almirola enters Nashville second in points to only Timothy Peters, and he’s looking for another good run this time out.
"Getting a guitar in victory lane at Nashville (Superspeedway) is something very special,” said Almirola. “It's the only race track that does that. The race track itself is unique, but winning the race and having a chance to get a Sam Bass guitar is really cool. No other tracks give away trophies like that. It gives drivers a lot of incentive to win; I know it does me.”
Of course, winning won’t be easy. Almirola will have to contend with not only the usual Truck Series veterans like Mike Skinner and Ron Hornaday Jr., but with three Sprint Cup regulars in Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski.
“This will be our first race of the season that we don't have a companion event with the Sprint Cup Series, but I don't think it will change too much,” said Almirola. “Harvick and Kyle Busch are entered in the race, so we'll still have a few couple of the Cup guys to race with. The same guys in the Truck Series that are good every week will continue to be the ones to beat. The race will still have all the excitement that the fans have come to love. It's going to be tough to win and very competitive. I think the biggest difference is that it will be a little more laid back.”
But the compressed schedule brings its own challenges.
“It will also be our first race as a one-day show,” said Almirola. “We'll practice in the morning, have qualifying that afternoon and racing at night. You really have to have your stuff together from the time you unload to be good because you don't have that much time to work on it. That's what gets me excited about being at Billy Ballew Motorsports. All their preparation and hard work really pays off and it shows when we show up at the race track.”
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEEDtv.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.