The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kentucky Speedway this weekend for the Quaker State 400. Forty drivers will compete for the trophy with only nine regular season races remaining before the playoffs begin.
The inaugural Quaker State 400 was held on July 9, 2011, and was won by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch who led 125 of 267 laps. Busch captured the checkered flag again in 2015 while Brad Keselowski has won three of the six Cup Series races (2012, 2014, and 2016) at the 1.5-mile track. Busch‘s teammate, Matt Kenseth, has one victory at Kentucky, in 2013. But did you know that Kentucky Speedway is the only track on the current schedule where no Chevrolet car has ever won?
With only nine races left in the regular season winning is paramount. Ten drivers have secured their spot in the playoffs with victories but the clock is winding down for everyone else. Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth are currently 11th-16th in the playoff picture, but none of them have been to Victory Lane this year.
Keselowski is the defending race winner and holds the track qualifying record with a speed of 188.791 mph, set on June 28, 2014. He leads all active drivers with an average starting position of 4.500 and has the series second-best driver rating (119.2). But did you know that Keselowski is the only driver to win a Cup Series race from the pole (2014) at Kentucky?
With two wins and four top fives at Kentucky, Kyle Busch is hoping to turn his luck around and grab his first win of the season Saturday. He has the series-best driver rating of 125.6, the series-best average finish (5.167) and has led the most laps in the top 15.
Kenseth will be trying for a repeat of his 2013 triumph this weekend. With Joey Logano only three points behind him in points, a win is essential. He has the series third-best driver rating (107.9), three top fives and six top 10s. But did you know that with his win in 2013, Kenseth became the oldest Kentucky winner (06/30/2013 – 41 years, 3 months, 20 days)? Another trip to Victory Lane would be icing on the cake.
This will likely be Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last race at Kentucky Speedway as he will retire from full-time competition at the end of this season. While he only has the 13th-best driver rating at the track, he does have one pole, two top five finishes and ranks fourth-best in fastest laps run (34). But did you know that Earnhardt is the oldest driver to win a Kentucky pole? In 2013 he captured the Coors Light Pole Award at the age of 38 years, 8 months and 20 days.
Qualifying well could be the determining factor for a victory at Kentucky. Three of the six (50 percent) Cup Series races have been won from the front row while five of the six races (83.3 percent) have been won from a top 10 starting position.
Be sure to tune into the action this weekend as the racing intensifies in anticipation of the upcoming playoffs. The Quaker State 400 will be broadcast on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday.
In the meantime, check out the video below as Keselowski, low on fuel, holds off Carl Edwards to capture his third win at Kentucky Speedway.
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