Wednesday night, racing's sanctioning body will highlight the 2020 season champions with the NASCAR Awards Show. A country star in Chris Stapleton will open the broadcast by performing a brand-new song. He will hit the stage for the television debut of "Arkansas."
Stapleton's single is fitting for an award show that awards drivers hitting high speeds on the track. The lyrics address driving a Porsche 911 over 100 mph across the country while running from the law. He mentions stopping in Little Rock for BBQ and driving through Memphis with "blue lights in our rearview." NASCAR is based in the prohibition, with bootleggers running from the authorities in souped-up cars. "Arkansas" taps into these roots.
NBC Sports Network will broadcast the ceremony, which will begin at 8 p.m. ET. NBC Sports' Kelli Stavast and ESPN's Marty Snider will co-host the 90-minute broadcast special, recognizing the three champions — Cup Series winner Chase Elliott, NASCAR Xfinity Series winner Austin Cindric and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series winner Sheldon Creed.
In addition to honoring the three series' champions on Wednesday night, the 2020 NASCAR Awards Show will include a tribute to seven-time Cup Series champion and future Hall of Famer Jimmie Johnson. The veteran driver officially retired after the season-ending race at Phoenix to spend time with his family and take part in IndyCar.
NASCAR will recognize several other figures throughout the evening for their work both on and off the track. The broadcast will highlight the Bill France Award of Excellence winner, the 2020 Most Popular Driver in each series, and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year in each series. Additionally, NASCAR will highlight 2020's Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award finalists. This award recognizes fans that volunteer for children's causes in their own communities.
Racing's sanctioning body originally planned on returning to Nashville for the 2020 NASCAR Awards, but the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the schedule and forced some major changes. The gala event took place in Music City for the first time in 2019 and prompted excitement among fans and industry figures alike. Drivers rolled down Broadway with stock cars featuring undercarriage lights.
Once the actual ceremony began, big names headed to the stage to announce winners of certain awards. Eddie George, Jay Cutler, Kristin Cavallari and many others took part in the awards show and capped off a memorable season in which Kyle Busch won his second Cup Series championship.