How many hit songs in Music City #1 does NBC Sports need to unleash its share of coverage of the 2022 NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series over the weekend of June 26 at the Nashville Superspeedway? Almost 50.
Names including Ken Brown, the Osborne brothers, Dolly Parton and Keith Urban may not be behind the wheel of Saturday’s Tennessee Lottery 250 or Sundays Ally 400. Points between country music and NASCAR are critical to NBC.
On top of that, from Grand Ole Opry appearances to a presence on Lower Broadway, the network intends to use nearly every square foot of Music City’s country music entertainment lanes to force viewers to become weekly fans of NASCAR’s frenetic race to close out the 2022 season.
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The production team of 200 people (including 13 broadcasters), as well as 22 specialized mobile units, trucks and generators, will have spent three times as many days in town preparing for the broadcast. NBC Sports will also use robotic cameras on the track, a vehicle-mounted camera and three in-car cameras on seven race cars.
Jeff Behnke, NBC’s vice president of motorsports production, told The Tennessean that the network is excited about the season’s kick-off return to Nashville. “Anything that impacts the sports world as a whole that happens in Tennessee is very important to me,” he adds, a Memphis native with Knoxville roots.
Urban’s 2021 single “Wild Hearts” is the core of NBC’s weekend promotional campaign. The top 18 country radio chart went to the popular Blackbird Studio in Berry Hill to re-record the guitar sequences from the track for NBC use. The promotional video was filmed at the popular Orchid Lounge on Lower Broadway.
Also, this weekend’s NASCAR coverage will be airing live from Tootsie’s where NBC Sports’ “CityView” reporter will report from the venue’s rooftop terrace to highlight “the atmosphere and excitement around the race on Broadway.”
Furthermore, a Nashville-recorded video feature with culture icon from country to Bob Barton will combine the “hard work and dedication” required to become a country music superstar with what it takes to stand out in NASCAR.
For the eighth year in a row, through its global partnership with USA Network and broadcasting portal, Peacock, NBC will present 39 NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series races in 2022 — including the championship and playoffs.
Country stars will be associated with legendary names from the past four decades in motorsport, including race analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton and cover from pit row from Dale Garrett and Kyle Petty.
“In the past two decades, Nashville has become one of America’s leading cities,” Behnke says. “By showing that, NBC is also showing how far both the city and NASCAR have come,” he adds. It continues, highlighting a multigenerational showcase of stars from NASCAR and country music from Dolly Parton to Ken Brown and Jeff Burton to budding Mexican-American NASCAR driver Daniel Suarez.
“We’re doing all of this to give fans and viewers a reason to care,” Behnke says, regarding the network’s massive rollout in Nashville that kicks off the run for the remainder of the NASCAR season through the end of November in Phoenix.
“NBC Sports is putting a lot of effort into this Nashville launch. The city has welcomed us and NASCAR with open arms.”