How Nashville's country music footprint will be highlighted to launch NBC Sports' 2022 NASCAR broadcast season

·3 min read

How many Music City No. 1 hits does it take for NBC Sports to launch its portion of 2022's NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series coverage over the weekend of June 26 at Nashville Superspeedway? Roughly 50.

Names including Kane Brown, Brothers Osborne, Dolly Parton and Keith Urban may not be getting behind the wheel of a car for Saturday's Tennessee Lottery 250 or Sundays Ally 400. However, for marketing a race emanating from Nashville to a nationwide audience, "the connective points between country music and NASCAR" are critical to NBC.

Moreover, from Grand Ole Opry appearances to a presence on Lower Broadway, the network intends to use virtually every square foot of Music City's country music entertainment corridors to compel viewers into becoming weekly fans of NASCAR's frenetic sprint to close the 2022 season.

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A 200-person production staff (including 13 announcers), plus 22 mobile units, specialty trucks and generators, will have spent three times as many days in the city to prepare for the broadcast. NBC Sports will also use robotic on-track cameras, a pace car-mounted camera and three in-car cameras in seven racing vehicles.

The network is excited about its season kickoff returning to Nashville, Jeff Behnke, NBC's Vice President of Motorsports Production, said to The Tennessean. A Memphis native with Knoxville roots, he adds, "Anything that impacts the sporting world at large that happens in Tennessee is a pretty big deal for me."

Urban's 2021-released single "Wild Hearts" is at the core of NBC's weekend promo campaign. The 18-time country radio chart-topper went to Berry Hill's renowned Blackbird Studio to re-record a guitar sequence from the track for NBC's use. The promo video was shot at Lower Broadway's iconic Tootsie's Orchid Lounge.

Also, weekend NASCAR coverage will emanate live from Tootsie's as NBC Sports' "CityView" reporter Rutledge Wood will conduct reports from the venue's rooftop balcony to highlight "the atmosphere and excitement around the race on Broadway."

Moreover, a video feature recorded in Nashville with country-to-pop culture icon Parton will meld the "hard work and dedication" required to become a superstar in country music with what it takes to excel in NASCAR.

For the eighth consecutive year, via its Universal partnership with USA Network and streaming portal, Peacock, NBC will present 39 NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series Races in 2022 – including the Championship and Playoffs.

Country stars will pair with legendary names of the past four decades of motorsports, including race analysts Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton and coverage from pit row from Dale Jarrett and Kyle Petty.

"In the past two decades, Nashville has become one of America's premier cities," Behnke says. "By showcasing that, NBC is also showcasing how progressive both the city and NASCAR have become," he adds. He continues, highlighting a multi-generational presentation of stars from NASCAR and country music from Dolly Parton to Kane Brown and Jeff Burton to emerging Mexican-American NASCAR driver Daniel Suarez.

Kane Brown will serve as the Grand Marshal for the Ally 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway on June 26, 2022
Kane Brown will serve as the Grand Marshal for the Ally 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway on June 26, 2022

"We do all of this to give the fans and viewers a reason to care," Behnke says, concerning the network's outsized rollout in Nashville that kicks off the expanse of the rest of the NASCAR season through early November's finish in Phoenix.

"NBC Sports is putting a ton of effort into this Nashville launch. The city has welcomed us and NASCAR with open arms."

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: NBC showcasing Nashville also shows how progressive NASCAR has become

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