It’s only been on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule for seven years and already it’s displayed some pretty close racing to go along with sell-out crowds at all of its race dates. It also has one of the more unique trophies in the sport, with a Crosley jukebox going to the winner in victory lane. The track in question is the next track on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series calendar – Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky. Next on the docket for the stars of NASCAR is the Quaker State 400 on Saturday night (7:30 PM Eastern, NBCSN). For Erik Jones, the celebration of his first career win at Daytona is over and its time to focus on getting win number two. For the big three of Truex, Kyle Busch and Harvick, this is a test session for the Chase. As for the rest of the field, the question is – ‘Can the big three be stopped?’ Speaking of Truex, can he defend last season’s dominating win here? Can Kyle Busch add a third win at the Old Kentucky Home or will Kevin Harvick finally score his first triumph in NASCAR’s Run For The Roses? Here’s what to watch for as we prepare for 400 miles in Our Old Kentucky Home.
Revenge Of The Wrecked?
This goes back to the controversy of last Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona. During that race, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. caused wrecks that took out nearly three-quarters of the forty car field. This leaves fans wondering if the victims of those wrecks will be out to get Stenhouse as soon as the green flag drops at Kentucky. A NASCAR driver is known for having a deep memory and is known for not letting any time when they get wrecked by their fellow driver go unpunished. With that in mind, expect some drivers to gun for payback against Stenhouse on Saturday night.
A Rowdy Trifecta?
Kyle Busch won the inaugural Cup Series showdown at Kentucky in 2011. He also dominated to claim the jukebox in 2015. Saturday, he aims to tie Brad Keselowski for most wins at Kentucky with three. One little note about that 2011 race – it was marred by traffic issues on Interstate 71, which held fans up for upwards of two to three hours. Upwards of 25,000 fans didn’t even get in to see the race. Those problems have since been rectified, so expect to see a packed house at Kentucky on Saturday as 107,000+ fans will be looking on along with the TV audience to see if Kyle can tie ‘Bad’ Brad Keselowski.
Second Verse, Same As The First!
You didn’t think I’d leave defending race winner and reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr. out of this, did you? Of course not! In the spirit of Kentucky, this thoroughbred out-galloped the field last year on the 1.5 mile tracks, Kentucky included, winning eight times. Those eight wins on 1.5 mile track allowed the pride of Mayetta, New Jersey to claim his first NASCAR Cup Series title. So far this season, he hasn’t been able to replicate that success, managing back to back second place finishes to this point, those coming at Kansas and Charlotte earlier in the season. Kentucky is the final 1.5 mile track before the Chase begins, so expect a sense of urgency from crew chief Cole Pearn…and some of his sneaky strategy to boot. Look for Truex to be a contender and possibly take home the jukebox at the end of 400 miles Saturday.
Sound the Call to the Post! It’s about time to go racing in Kentucky!