Column By: HOLLY CAIN / NASCAR – NASHVILLE, TN – An all-encompassing lineup representing all facets of the NASCAR industry arrive in Nashville, Tennessee, this week as the “Music City” hosts its first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards and end of season activities.
The sport’s top drivers – including recently crowned 2019 Monster Energy Series champion Kyle Busch – will be honored Thursday night in a fittingly “Grand Ole” style, wrapping up a competitive racing season and celebrating a year of achievement for drivers, teams and the entire sport.
Grammy Award nominee and country music star Cassadee Pope will co-host the 2019 Awards alongside NASCAR on NBC’s Rutledge Wood on an evening that will feature an impressive list of special guest performers such as country superstars Cole Swindell and Chris Janson. A full lineup of celebrities and star performers will be performing or presenting awards from Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL running back Eddie George; television personality Kristin Cavallari and her husband, former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler; to music superstar and three-time Grammy winner Darius Rucker, who is currently touring with his popular band, Hootie & The Blowfish.
The three-day NASCAR celebration shifts into high gear tonight (Tuesday) with a special performance crowned “NASCAR Night at the Opry” – at the famed Ryman Auditorium – where the world-renowned Grand Ole Opry will showcase a NASCAR tribute. Rascal Flatts, Henry Cho and Ashley McBride are among those scheduled to perform.
The “Burnouts on Broadway” will take place on Wednesday – always one of the most popular events of the annual NASCAR Champion’s Week. At 7 p.m. ET, all 16 of the Playoff drivers will hit the streets in their race cars – the sounds and action sure to be a thrilling must-see.
And throughout the three-day Champion’s Week celebration the Playoff drivers and cars will be making special appearances at various sites around the city with plenty of autograph and photo opportunities. The Fan Fest will take place at Riverfront Park from 1-9 p.m. ET on Tuesday and Wednesday and from noon-4 p.m. ET on Thursday.
The celebration culminates with Thursday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN and MRN). The popular formal red carpet walk and photo opportunity will take place at the Music City Center to start the evening 5:45 p.m. ET.
Not only will Busch receive his second Monster Energy Series championship trophy this week, the winner of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Most Popular Driver Award will be announced at the Banquet. Fans still have time to vote for their favorite Cup driver at www.nascar.com/mostpopulardriver or by using the NASCAR Mobile app. Votes on Facebook or Twitter count as double. Voting closes noon ET on Wednesday (Dec. 4).
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, won the 2018 Most Popular Driver Award. His father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, holds the record for wins at 16. Chase Elliott’s former Hendrick teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the honor for 15 years before retiring from fulltime competition in 2017.
Adding to a long list of NASCAR’s A-list attendees for the formal program, Danielle Bradberry – winner of Season 4 of the “The Voice” and an Academy of Country Music New Female Artist of the Year nominee – will be a presenter. Joining her will be Roman Josi and Matt Duchene of the NHL’s Nashville Predators, country artists Frankie Ballard, Lee Brice and Clare Bowen along with four-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion and 2019 “King of the Ring” Sheamus.