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Chase Elliott considering Nashville Fairgrounds race, joining NASCAR rookie Josh Berry

NASCAR Cup Series rookie Josh Berry will return to his racing roots and six-time NASCAR Cup Series most popular driver Chase Elliott may join him in a Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway race in June.

It's a late models race which was added to the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway schedule during the week of the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 30. The Fairgrounds Speedway race will be held Thursday, June 27.

The idea for the Fairgrounds Speedway race was to capitalize on the interest of NASCAR fans who will be in town for the fourth-annual Cup race. Getting two Cup drivers to participate on the ⅝-mile track would be a huge added bonus.

Berry, a Hendersonville native, has committed to the race. He raced Legends cars on the quarter-mile track at Nashville Fairgrounds when he was younger, but could never afford to drive a stockcar on the big tack.

"Racing on the big track at the Fairgrounds has been on my bucket list for a long time," Berry said.

Elliott, from Dawsonville, Georgia, said he will decide closer to the race depending on how his season is going. He started racing at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway when he was 13.

"Every year I always would look at the races at the Fairgrounds and there was only nine or 10 nights and they always conflicted with other races I had going on or something," Berry said. "It just seemed to never work out. When I saw that race on the Fairgrounds schedule this year and that we would be at the Superspeedway for the Cup race I saw it as finally the opportunity that I'd be able to put something together and be in that race. It should be a lot of fun."

Elliott, the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion, has been a proponent for a proposal to bring NASCAR Cup Series racing back to the Nashville Fairgrounds since the idea first came up. He and his father Bill Elliott raced in the Camping World Superstar Racing Experience Series in 2021. Chase won the race and Bill finished third.

When asked if he would return to the Fairgrounds Speedway for the June race Chase said, "I'd like to. I love racing there. I love that track, I love everything about the Fairgrounds. I'd love to be a part of it and we'll see if it makes sense for us."

Elliott also won the All American 400 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway in 2013.

When Berry ran four-cylinders at Nashville Fairgrounds he only raced part-time while also taking classes at Volunteer State Community College and later working fulltime at a Hendersonville bank. He became acquainted with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in an online simulated racing league during that time.

Earnhardt hired Berry and Berry spent 16 years racing late models all the way up to NASCAR Xfinity cars for JR Motorsports. He moved to Hendrick Motorsports in 2023 where he served as a fill-in driver for Elliott, who missed five races with a broken leg, and then to Stewart-Haas to replace Kevin Harvick, who retired at the end of the season.

Other NASCAR Cup drivers may participate in the race at the Fairgrounds Speedway, but at this time Berry is the only one committed. Berry said having Cup drivers in the Fairgrounds Speedway race could help with the effort to bring Cup racing back to the track.

"It definitely gives us the opportunity as drivers to support the Fairgrounds," Berry said. "I don't know who all will be interested in running an event like that, but for me I want to do my part and be there and support it."

Maya Buckhanon sets Fisk single-game scoring record

Maya Buckhanon scored a school record 60 points for Fisk in a game last week.
Maya Buckhanon scored a school record 60 points for Fisk in a game last week.

Maya Buckhanon set a Fisk single game record for men and women by scoring 60 points in an 87-70 win Saturday over Southern University at New Orleans. The previous record was 55 points set by Robert Moore.

Buckhanon, a 6-foot-3, senior from Talladega, Alabama, made 24-of-38 field goals and 12-of-16 free throws. She also grabbed a game-high 19 rebounds and blocked two shots. It was most points in an NAIA women’s game since 1993.

Buckhanon, an NAIA All-American last season, also went over 1,000 career points in only her second season with the Bulldogs. She helped Fisk improve to 17-7 overall and 14-2 in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference.

The Tennessean's Tom Kreager receives TnFCA award

Tom Kreager
Tom Kreager

The Tennessean’s Tom Kreager received the Tennessee Football Coaches Association Contributor of the Year award for the 2023 season and Mt. Juliet football coach Trey Perry was named the Volunteer of the Year.

Montgomery Bell Academy coach Marty Euverard, former Father Ryan coach Bruce Lussier, former Tullahoma coach John Olive, former Greeneville coach Caine Ballard and former Jefferson County coach Craig Kisabeth were inducted into the TnFCA Hall of Fame.

MBA defensive coordinator Chris Chauvin received the high school Broyles award for the top assistant coach in the state.

Shelby Golf Course closing for $2 million renovation project

Golf architect Bruce Hepner detailed upgrades that will be made as part of the $2 million renovation at Shelby Golf Course.
Golf architect Bruce Hepner detailed upgrades that will be made as part of the $2 million renovation at Shelby Golf Course.

Shelby Golf Course and Vinny Links, also located an Shelby Park, will close on March 4 for a $2 million renovation project. Both courses will reopen in 2025.

Upgrades for Shelby include combining the winter and summer greens into one green complex on each hole; expansion of the practice putting green at the clubhouse to more than five times its current size; new irrigation; replacing and expanding six tee boxes; and work on the cart path.

The main scope at VinnyLinks will be improvement of all nine tee boxes and tree work.

The renovations coincide with Shelby Golf Course's 100th anniversary in 2024.

Former Vanderbilt All-SEC catcher and FRA coach Jerry Williams dies

Jerry Williams
Jerry Williams

Former Vanderbilt standout catcher and Franklin Road Academy coach Jerry Williams died on Monday. He was 65.

Williams made the All-SEC first team in 1978 and the SEC All-Tournament team in 1980 after helping to lead the Commodores to the SEC championship.

Williams then spent 32 years at FRA. He served as assistant baseball coach and helped lead FRA to three state championships. Williams also served as an assistant football coach.

He was inducted into the FRA Hall of Excellence and Hall of Fame as part of the 1998 state champion baseball team.

TSU's Dick Barnett is a finalist for the Naismith Hall of Fame

Dick Barnett heads to the court before being honored during halftime of a basketball game at TSU’s Gentry Center in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Barnett played for Tennessee A&I before playing professionally for teams including the Syracuse Nationals, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks.
Dick Barnett heads to the court before being honored during halftime of a basketball game at TSU’s Gentry Center in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Barnett played for Tennessee A&I before playing professionally for teams including the Syracuse Nationals, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks.

Tennessee State basketball great Dick Barnett is one of 14 finalists for induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Barnett, 87, played at TSU from 1955-59 and helped lead the Tigers to three consecutive NAIA championships. He averaged 23.6 points per game and is the program’s all-time leading scorer with 3,209 points.

Barnett’s No. 35 was the first to be retired by TSU. He went on to play in the NBA and ABA.

ESPN promotes former Vanderbilt SID employee Amanda Brooks

Amanda Brooks
Amanda Brooks

Amanda Brooks, who worked in Vanderbilt’s sports information department, has been promoted to ESPN senior director of communications for college sports.

Brooks, who interned with the Nashville Predators, also worked in the Florida sports information department and served as marketing and communications director for USA Track and Field before going to work for ESPN and the SEC Network in 2017.

She also earned her master's degree from Vanderbilt.

Ex-Gallatin assistant joins Austin Peay coaching staff

Michael Gehl, who spent last season as an assistant on the Gallatin football coaching staff, has been hired as an assistant offensive line coach at Austin Peay.

Gehl coached cornerbacks at Gallatin.

Before starting his coaching career Gehl played tight end at Wheaton College. The Winfield, Illinois, native had five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown during his career while helping the Thunder go 38-6 over his career.

Kats tryouts, Nighthawks practice at Lipscomb Academy

Open tryouts for new Nashville Kats football team practice for Nashville Nighthawks − will take place this weekend at Lipscomb Academy in the McCadams Athletic Complex.

The Nashville Kats, who are part of the Arena Football League relaunch, will have tryouts Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. Pre-registration for $75 is available at TheNashvilleKats.com. The cost for Saturday walk-ups is $100. Coach/vice president of football Dean Cokinos will evaluate the tryouts and Jeff Fisher, President of football operations, will be in attendance.

The Nashville Nighthawks, a new American Flag Football League Team, will be at McCadams Athletic Complex Saturday from 2-4 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. for closed practices, which will include invitation-only tryouts. Coach Chris Hughes will run the practice.

The Nighthawks will also have a uniform reveal.

If you have an item for Midstate Chatter contact Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on X @MikeOrganWriter.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Chase Elliott may race at Nashville Fairgrounds with Josh Berry