Sunday, June 30, 2013

Kenseth wins at Kentucky following late Johnson spinout

Matt Kenseth grabs fourth win of the season 
When crew chief Jason Racliff told Matt Kenseth to pit for fuel only with 25 laps remaining in the Quaker State 400, Kenseth thought he was crazy.

Kenseth beat Jimmie Johnson out of the pits to take the lead, but thought there was no way he could hold off the dominant Johnson, who had led a race-high 182 laps. But when Johnson wrecked on the ensuing restart, Kenseth held the lead through another restart and then pulled away to win at Kentucky Speedway.

“I didn’t roll the dice, Jason did. I thought he was crazy when it happened," Kenseth said.

Jimmie Johnson dominated the race, but wrecked on a restart with 21 laps remaining. He was trying to hold off a hard-charging Joey Logano for second on the restart when he lost control of his car and spun.

Kenseth held off a challenge from Clint Bowyer on the final restart and pulled away for his series-high fourth win of the season.

Jamie McMurray passed Bowyer with four laps remaining to finish second, his best finish since 2010. Bowyer finished third followed by Logano and Kyle Busch. Johnson rallied at the end to finish ninth after pitting following his spin.

An emotional Kenseth thanked his crew over his team radio after taking the checkered flag. The win was his fourth since joining Joe Gibbs Racing this season.

“I don’t even know what to say. Thank you, guys. This is unbelievable. Thank you so much,” he said. “Great job. It was a team effort. You guys make me look so good every week. I couldn’t be any happier and prouder to be a part of this.”

Read More Here....Sporting News

Quaker State 400 Final Results

Friday, June 28, 2013

2013 Kentucky Quaker State 400 Practice Notes: Johnson makes himself clear favorite to win

Is Kyle Busch back to full speed? He looked pretty good in practices
Based on Friday’s final practice sessions at Kentucky Speedway, Jimmie Johnson appears to have had enough of this little winless streak he’s had on 1.5-mile tracks this season, as well as two previous Kentucky races. He was second-fastest in the early session and bettered it during happy hour by going to the top of the charts. Johnson even showed off during long runs by having the fastest 10-consecutive lap average.

Because of his impressive run Friday, coupled with a few other factors, Johnson’s odds will plummet near the 4-to-1 range when odds to win Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 are reopened following qualifying.

The Saturday night races are usually the toughest to gauge because of an irregular schedule that has only two practices run with qualifying to follow. Under normal circumstances, it’s easier to separate what each team is doing in practice. Usually Friday is all about being fast in qualifying trim while Saturday is reserved for final race day set-ups.

Friday’s practices at Kentucky had just about every team doing something different. Some went heavy with race runs early, and qualifying set-ups later, while others where the opposite. So when looking at the practice times, it looks jumbled, with the lone exceptions of Johnson and 2011 Kentucky winner Kyle Busch.

Busch had a lot of question marks from an odds standpoint this week just because of not fully knowing what kind of horsepower would be produced out of Toyota. It was apparent that teammates Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin looked a little slower during practice than might be expected if comparing performances at other 1.5-mile tracks, but Busch excelled. When looking at pure speed consistently from practice in all set-ups, along with his success in every racing series he’s driven in at Kentucky, he’s a real contender to be Johnson’s stiffest competition.

Because of there still being a hint of doubt with Toyota, Kasey Kahne got rated higher based on his four 1.5-mile track performances this season that has seem him finish second three times. He’s been going through a rut lately, which factors against him as well, but it wasn’t because his car was slow. Kahne also finished second at Kentucky last season.

Another driver that gets high marks despite not being overly impressive in both practice sessions is Kevin Harvick. He did claim the fastest lap in the first session on the final of his 14 laps run, which may suggest qualifying trim, but the reason to like him is more about the car itself. He’s using the same chassis that won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte in May, and most of his race set-ups for this week are geared towards the climate change at night, when the race is won. He used one of his four test sessions on the year to run laps under those same changing conditions a few weeks ago.

Johnson is going to be tough to beat, but he’s got a lot of competitors out there -- mostly Chevrolet -- on his tail to keep this as being one of only five tracks on tour that Johnson has never won at. One of those Chevy's is driven by teammate Jeff Gordon, who was very strong in practice. Kentucky is the only track currently on the schedule that Gordon has never won at.

Johnson fastest in final Kentucky practice session

Jimmie Johnson still looking for first 1.5-mile track win in 2013 
SPARTA, Ky. — Jimmie Johnson led the final Sprint Cup practice Friday at Kentucky Speedway.

Johnson was the only driver to an average speed of more than 181 mph while three drivers — Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon — all topped 180 mph at the 1.5-mile oval.

Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon, Marcos Ambrose and Kurt Busch rounded out the top 10 in the second of two practice sessions Friday.

Danica Patrick was 27th as she prepared for her first Cup race at the track.

Johnson also was fastest over 10 consecutive laps with a 10-lap average of 175.343 mph.

Qualifying for the race is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. ET Friday with the race set 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

 - Sporting News

Kevin Harvick talks Friday at Kentucky Speedway

Harvick, using winning Coca-Cola chassis, was fastest in Friday's practice
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Kentucky Speedway and discussed racing at Kentucky, going to Fort Bragg, preparing for the Chase and other topics.

“None of that was really intended to be a public matter, to be honest with you. I thought when we went to Fort Bragg I thought we would easily be able to find out the gentleman’s name that I had just talked to. We got the information, and looking forward to talking to him, hopefully at the race track sometime in the near future.

“We went to Fort Bragg, and just kind of took it for granted that the situation, and the fact that we didn’t get his name. We thought it would be rather easy to find out somebody’s name that we just talked to 15 minutes ago, and it has taken this long. So finally we took it among our group to take it to social media, and in a day and a half, we had found him, so it was pretty cool.”

“It is nice being in the position that we are in. You know we’ve been in several different areas of the points throughout this time of year. Obviously with a couple of wins, and where we are in the points, you are really going after wins. It is just like this week; we’ve been gone for three or four weeks with the testing, appearances, the races and the travel. For myself, after we got home Monday night, I just shut it down for three days, and took a few days off. The biggest thing is just once you have experienced, no matter where you are in the points, once you’ve experienced this time of year, you learn how to maintain yourself. If you are in a bad spot mentally, you know you need to shut it down for a couple of days. Or just physically not feeling well, you need to just take care of yourself. It is all about being ready for that first race of the Chase. Right now it is all about trying to gain more wins.”

“This is a unique race track with just how rough it is. I think everywhere we have been the car has required something different to be able to make it go around the race track like you need it to. We have a limited amount of practice time today. We have two practices and qualifying today, so everything is very condensed into a short amount of time. So hopefully we have a good place to start. Sometimes those tests backfire on you. At Pocono, it all worked out for us, and we had a competitive car and were able to run fast, and do the things we thought we should be able to do from the test. As you come back to a race track and you see a lot more rubber on it, and you see some different weather conditions, you are always a little bit concerned until you get through practice and the race and see where everything is at.”

“No, the track surface is pretty consistent. This is just a really rough race track. There is nothing wrong with the race track; it is just rough. We’d rather see a rough race track than a re-paved race track. I don’t feel that we had much difference than we had last year.”

“Honestly, I haven’t even been asked where to test. Let me rephrase that. I’ve been asked where to test, but never really been in the meetings as to how those conclusions have been come up with. We all kind of put in a hat as to where we want to test, and the crew chiefs and management decide where they want to go from there. You get asked, and hopefully the decisions are made from a group of common denominators I guess you could say of the tracks that were picked. The crew chiefs and management make those final decisions. I would rather not test anywhere to be honest with you (LAUGHS).

“The Ford camp had Casey’s (Mears) here with all the Roush people working on it. They were here for three days. I don’t know what we could have done for the third day, but two days was plenty for me. Our testing was condensed into Pocono one week; Kentucky the next week. We definitely changed a lot of things from the time we started. The Pocono thing – we kind of got Pocono, Michigan and Indy kind of falls into that same group of race tracks. This one doesn’t really fall into much; but we hadn’t run very well here, so I think that was probably why they decided to come here.”

“Turn three is just really flat getting into the corner. You have more banking as you exit the corner, so you kind of drive into the banking and it progressively gets a little bit more as you come off of the corner. It’s really flat right there, and you are carrying a lot of speed. You just wind up being loose into the corner for the most part. As you go through the weekend that will be the toughest spot to navigate for sure.”

“That is a loaded gun right there. I think this (racing in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series) is hard to do. You see there is really no good training ground for it anymore in the Nationwide and Truck Series because of the lack of horsepower. It is really hard to understand what you need to drive these cars, and to be able to drive them fast. It is just not something that is going to happen overnight. I don’t know that I would go as far as calling her not a racer because she has raced her whole life, and I think on a continuous learning curve. She’s obviously dedicated at what she does to try and get better, and knows she has a lot of hurdles to overcome in a short amount of time.

“She’s fortunate to have a sponsor that is willing to back her, and take those learning experiences with her. Hopefully as the week’s progress, she gets better and better. In that aspect, I think you look at that, and you try to put all that in perspective. I couldn’t imagine just coming in here and having two-and-a-half years of stock car experience, and expect to come here and be competitive knowing what all this entails. It’s hard. And it’s not going to get easier. I think that is why over the years you’ve seen less and less new drivers come into the sport because the cars have become harder to drive. There’s just nowhere to figure out how to drive them other than being on the race track on a Cup Sunday or Saturday that we race. Because they are just hard to drive.”

“They’ve obviously created some new challenges for us. Different types of race tracks. As you look through the schedule, and you look at everything that we’ve done, just think they are going to run faster everywhere. They are going to run faster, but how you get there is a totally different equation than what we had to put together last year. It is just much different. We’ve progressed in a different direction than everything we had last year.”

“It is almost that unfair part of being really popular. In her case, she obviously has got a lot of attention and things that come with it. She seems to, just being around her the little bit that I have, seems to have kind of become immune to it, and understands what the goal… I think she is realistic with her goals, and understands that she has a lot to learn and tries to take everything in. It is easier just to turn it all off. Not read it. Not listen to it. Because at some point, whether it is her, or myself, or Dale, Jr. or Tony Stewart, or whoever it may be; you are going to be criticized, and you are not going to like it if you read. So it is easier just to not pay attention to it. I think if you can make yourself do that, life is a lot better, and you understand where your team is at, and where your goals are; and how you need to adjust them. And how you need to better. There is really nobody inside of any of our situations that can really understand why things are like they are; why they are good; why they are bad, or what you need to do to fix them. Because until you are in it on a day-to-day basis, this is really how to do.”

“I didn’t even know they were changing the tire. (LAUGHS) See, that is how I stay detached from it, so I don’t have any preconceived notions going to the race track on a given weekend.”

HOW DO YOU COMPARE TOMORROW NIGHT’S RACE TO THE COKE 600 IN TERMS OF ADJUSTABILITY? “When we tested, we tested from day to night. I think as you go into the race, you try to build some of things into your car; whether it will be more or less – hopefully we’ll have some things that we can go back and look at, and realize what we need to do at a certain time of day. No matter what race it is, you have to have adjustability in your car no matter where you are because you never know what the conditions are going to be like when you start the race in a pack. You never get to run in a complete pack like we will when the race starts.”

About Chevrolet:
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4.5 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design, and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at

- Team Chevy

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2013 Kentucky Quaker State 400 Driver Chassis Selections

Kevin Harvick is using winning Charlotte chassis this week
#2-Brad Keselowski: Primary Chassis for Kentucky is PRS-852 which last raced at Richmond and finished 33rd. The backup chassis is PRS-847 has been a backup at several races but has not raced.

#5-Kasey Kahne: Crew chief Kenny Francis has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-739 for the Kentucky race. Most recently, Kahne drove this chassis at Darlington in May, when he ran inside the top five for the majority of the race before being collected in an incident and finishing 17th. Kahne has one top-five finish in two Cup starts at Kentucky. The 33-year-old driver finished second in last year's event at the 1.5-mile tri-oval. His average start there is 11.5, and his average finish is 7.5, which ranks him seventh among active Sprint Cup Series drivers at Kentucky.

#9-Marcos Ambrose: The #9 Mac Tools team has prepared the same chassis they raced at Las Vegas and Kansas earlier this year. The best finish for the car is 20th. Ambrose comes into Kentucky with two previous NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at the track. He has an average start of 11.5 and an average finish of 16.5 in his races with Richard Petty Motorsports. His best finish is 13th at the track and has finished on the lead lap in both events. He also won his first NASCAR pole at the track, in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, in 2006.

#14-Tony Stewart Chassis No. 14-736 debuted in 2012 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup opener at Chicago, where Stewart qualified 29th and rallied to lead three laps before finishing sixth. Chassis No. 14-736 made its second career start in October at Charlotte, and it had to rally again. After starting 32nd, a lap-16 run-in with Brad Keselowski necessitated numerous pit stops that dropped Stewart all the way to 36th in the 43-car field. But Stewart used Chassis No. 14-736 to claw his way back to a respectable 13th-place finish. The car made its third career start last November at Texas where it rallied yet again, overcoming its 21st-place starting spot to finish fifth. With a 2013 Chevrolet SS body honed in the wind tunnel, Chassis No. 14-736 visited Kansas in April for its fourth career start. It was a quiet outing, with Stewart qualifying 18th and finishing 21st.

#15-Clint Bowyer: Primary Chassis No. 738 raced at Las Vegas and Darlington. Backup chassis No. 724 has not raced.

#16-Greg Biffle: and the Matt Puccia led #16 3M / National Firefighters Foundation Ford Fusion team will bring primary chassis RK-844 which last ran at Pocono in June and finished 2nd. The backup chassis is RK-822, which last ran at Martinsville and finished 9th. Biffle has finished 21st in both Sprint Cup races at Kentucky. In six career Nationwide starts at Kentucky Biffle has three top-five and five top-10 finishes. 3M Scotchlite Reflective Material proudly supports the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation with donations of over $100,000 since 2007.

#17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: and the #17 Fifth Third Bank Racing team will be using primary chassis RK-791, which last raced at Sprint Showdown/All-Star race finished 2nd in Showdown. The backup Chassis RK-811 was a chassis that the #99 ran numerous times in 2012. Fifth Third Bank will be on the #17 Ford the next two races, Kentucky and Daytona.

#22-Joey Logano: Primary Chassis for Kentucky is PRS-858 which is a new chassis. The backup chassis is PRS-844 has been a backup at several races but has not raced.

#27-Paul Menard will pilot chassis No. 414 at Kentucky Speedway this weekend. This #27 Menards/Sylvania Chevrolet SS previously ran at Darlington Raceway in May and was tested earlier this month at Kentucky Speedway. Menard has two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at the 1.5-mile oval. His best start of 10th came in 2011 and best finish of 12th came in 2012. The Wisconsin native has completed 533 of 534 laps attempted (99 percent) at the Sparta, Ky., track. 

#29-Kevin Harvick: and the #29 Budweiser team will utilize chassis No. 425 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night. This is the same Chevrolet that Harvick drove to Victory Lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. Harvick has two starts to his credit at the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval dating back to 2011. The RCR veteran earned his best start of fourth and finish of 11th in 2011 and completed 100 percent (534 of 534) of the laps contested.

#31-Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 372 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. This #31 Caterpiller Chevy was utilized earlier this season at Bristol in March, Charlotte in May and Michigan in June. Burton has two starts at the Sparta, Ky.-based facility with his best start of 22nd and best finish of 19th both coming in the 2011 event. The South Boston, Va., native has also completed 533 of 534 laps attempted (99 percent) at the 1.5-mile oval. Whayne Supply Company Inc. will be featured on the deck lid of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet this weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

#39-Ryan Newman will pilot Chassis No. 39-733 debuted at Indianapolis in July 2012, when Newman recorded a seventh-place finish. The crew turned the car around in just a couple of days and took it to Pocono, where it finished sixth. Two weeks later, the chassis was back on track at Michigan where it finished eighth. The chassis earned its first top-five finish at Chicago. The chassis next raced three weeks later at Dover. The chassis made its last start of the 2012 season at Kansas in October, when Newman was involved in an incident that forced him to retire from the event prematurely. Chassis No. 39-733 was outfitted with a new front clip and a Chevrolet SS body, and saw its first laps of the 2013 season at Kansas in April, when Newman finished 14th. Newman then raced this Chevrolet SS to a 10th-place finish at Darlington in May. Most recently, Newman raced Chassis 39-733 to a fifth-place finish at Pocono earlier this month.

#43-Aric Almirola: The #43 Eckrich / Operation Homefrond team will race the same chassis they raced at Dover earlier this year. Almirola has made six starts at Kentucky Speedway in all three national series. His lone Sprint Cup start came last season when he started 13th and finished 26th after battling a tight condition. In his two Nationwide starts, Almirola posted his best finish (sixth) in 2007 and has an average finish of 13th. He finished in the top-five in two of his three truck series starts, including a best finish of third (2010), and has an average finish of 10th.

#48-Jimmie Johnson: will drive chassis No. 799 at Kentucky, this chassis last ran at Charlotte in May finishing 22nd. Chassis No. 720 serves as the backup and won two races in 2012.

#55-Brian Vickers: is running Chassis 722 which Mark Martin drove this car in the All-Star race. Back-up car 720 has not raced in 2013.

#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.:crew chief Steve Letarte and the #88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-726 for this weekend's Cup event at Kentucky. Earnhardt last ran this chassis in the 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Earnhardt will make his third career Sprint Cup start this Saturday at Kentucky Speedway, a 1.5-mile tri-oval added to the schedule in 2011. Earnhardt averaged a 6.599 running position (ranked fifth among his peers) during the 2012 content and finished fourth to record his first top-10 result at the track.

#99-Carl Edwards the #99 UPS team will be bringing chassis RK 831 which is a new chassis for the 2013 season. Backup chassis is RK 826 last ran in Texas. Edwards will make his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Kentucky Speedway Saturday, but he has seven Nationwide and three Camping World Truck starts there. In his previous 12 starts, Edwards has two wins, four top-five and five top-10 finishes.

Johnson and Busch Co-Favorites to win 2013 Quaker State 400 at Kentucky

Kyle Busch won at Kentucky in 2011
LAS VEGAS -- The LVH SuperBook has installed Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch as 6-to-1 co-favorites to win Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. This will be only the third Cup race run on the 1.5-mile tri-oval, but Busch already has a lifetime of success from racing there across several NASCAR series. In addition to winning the track’s inaugural Cup race in 2011, Busch has also grabbed a Nationwide series win, Truck series win, and even won an ARCA race there when he was 18-years-old.

If Busch’s Bluegrass state credentials don’t solidify his status as the favorite this week, his crew chief can help sway the reasoning. Dave Rogers won Nationwide races in 2008 and 2009 as crew chief for the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota, driven by Joey Logano.

The one negative with Busch this week, and why Johnson is listed at the same price, is the horsepower status of Toyota. Toyota Racing Development reduced horsepower prior to the Pocono race on June 9 as they searched for solutions to put less stress on the engines. Between Pocono and Michigan the following week, none of their engines expired, but they were no longer the favorites to win on tracks that required lots of power.

All indications this week are that the Toyota power is still set at a reduced rate from what we saw earlier in the season when the Gibbs cars were winning all those races. But they should still be faster than they were at Michigan and Pocono. At Michigan, Kyle Busch finished fourth, Matt Kenseth was sixth, and Clint Bowyer in seventh. Very respectable, but it’s still nothing like their performance at Las Vegas, Texas, Kansas and Fontana.

Johnson has yet to win on any of the 1.5-mile or 2-mile tracks this season. In fact, he’s finished in the top five on those tracks only once (Kansas). But there’s no real explanation for him being mediocre on these tracks this season, and with his spot in the Chase secure, he can go all out for wins and rack up bonus points for those victories.

Meanwhile, in two career starts at Kentucky, Johnson has finished third, and sixth, respectively.
Read More Here....LVH Super Book Kentucky odds

Kyle Busch going for another Kentucky win

Kyle Busch has had plenty of Kentucky success
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 25, 2013) – The state of Kentucky, long known as the home to big-time horse racing, has produced many winning thoroughbreds throughout the years.

Even though neither hails from Kentucky, look no further than Kyle Busch and his crew chief Dave Rogers as two people who have a similar winning history at the state’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racetrack – Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.

Despite the fact that Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky will be just the third Sprint Cup race ever held in the Bluegrass State, the statistics for Busch and Rogers in Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races at the 1.5-mile oval speak for themselves.

Busch, driver of the No. 18 Doublemint® Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has been quite the top-notch thoroughbred in the state widely known for its world-class horse-racing industry. Busch has notched victories at Kentucky in all three of NASCAR’s top divisions – Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck. Add his 2003 ARCA series win at Kentucky and Busch has been victorious in four racing divisions and has made quite a Kentucky home of his own in the Bluegrass State’s second-most-famous victory lane.

Busch proved his worth in the inaugural Sprint Cup race at Kentucky in 2011, when he led six times for a race-high 125 laps to be the historic first winner in NASCAR’s top series in the state.

But Busch’s winning history at Kentucky started way back at the ripe age of 18, when he dominated the 2003 ARCA race there while competing for Hendrick Motorsports. He led a race-high 91 laps en route to the victory.

He returned to the Bluegrass State the following year and found victory lane again, this time in his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at the 1.5-mile oval. In all, Busch has one win, three top-fives, and has led 311 laps in five Nationwide Series starts there.

He also won the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race to give him three top-10 finishes and 117 laps led in three Truck Series starts at the speedway.

In addition to Busch’s stellar career statistics at Kentucky, his crew chief Dave Rogers sports a record that is equally as impressive as his current driver. While Rogers’ bio lists his hometown as Marshfield, Vt., the 39-year-old crew chief absolutely owned Kentucky Speedway in 2008 and 2009 while calling the shots for JGR’s No. 20 Nationwide Series team and driver Joey Logano. In their two Nationwide Series starts together at Kentucky, Logano and Rogers won both races from the pole and led a total of 96 laps. The 2008 victory was not only the first of many for the tandem of Rogers and Logano, it was also Logano’s first career Nationwide Series win in just his third start in the series, and just one month after the young driver celebrated his 18th birthday.

This weekend’s event will mark the second of four races in 2013 that Doublemint will serve as primary sponsor for Busch. The iconic chewing gum brand’s mint paint scheme will also adorn Busch’s No. 18 Toyota at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August, along with the first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., in September.

When Busch takes the green flag for Saturday night’s 400-mile race in his Doublemint colors, he’ll go to the whip once again in hopes of adding to his already stellar record in a multitude of stock-car divisions at the 1.5-mile racetrack. After all, there’s certainly something special about being able to call yourself the top thoroughbred at Kentucky.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Doublemint Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

What do you enjoy about running races in all three NASCAR divisions, like at Kentucky this weekend?
“It’s a lot of on-track time. On Thursday, we practice all day, and then there’s the truck race that night. It’s a busy schedule and you are running back and forth between garages and it’s typically hot there in Kentucky. The biggest thing you get to work on, and enjoy, is essentially the on-track time and getting to figure out the bumps there, and you get extra track time to figure out if you need to get through them better or if you need to get your guys to give you a better setup to get through the bumps. I have three divisions worth of chances, and three crew chiefs who have different mindsets that, by the time I get to Saturday, I have a feel for what I need to win the Cup race with our Doublemint Camry.”

You’ve had a lot of success at Kentucky. Can you put your finger on why you have been so good there in all divisions?
“I can’t, actually, but I can remember going there for the first time back in 2003 and it was my second-ever ARCA race and first time on a 1.5-mile oval. It was a big deal and it was a fast racetrack and I ended up winning that weekend. I had to do some maneuvering around Frank Kimmel to win. It wasn’t easy. But since then, going there in Nationwide and being fast there every time, and going back to race when Sprint Cup didn’t have a date, yet, just getting your feet wet for when that opportunity came when Sprint Cup did go there. When we went with the Cup car, we were fast right when we unloaded. Dave Rogers was my crew chief and he had won there several times as a Nationwide crew chief prior to that and had a lot of notes to understand what it took to get around Kentucky, and we ended up winning the first Cup race there.”

Is it more challenging to only go to Kentucky once a year?
“I think it makes it more challenging. You’ve definitely got to go through your notes and find the things that made you good there and watch the film – no different than a football player studying film to see what he can do to be better. For me, you do some of those same things. Kentucky is a racetrack where we used to only go once with the Nationwide Series cars, anyway, so I was kind of used to that. I ran the Truck, the Nationwide car and the Cup car, so I got a lot more experience on the racetrack through the weekend. Then, during the first Cup race weekend, I saw that some of that may have paid off for us. I’m hoping it pays off running all three again this weekend.”

How does it feel to know you’ll always be the Inaugural Sprint Cup winner at Kentucky for the rest of your career?
“I think it’s cool. You look at some of the new venues we’ve been to over the years and Jeff Gordon got to win a number of inaugural races, like the Brickyard, Fontana, and Kansas. He was always the guy who was known to figure out places the fastest, but we were able to be the ones to do that at Kentucky. There aren’t many opportunities these days to go to a new venue, so for us being able to win the first race there was extra special.”

What was the key to finding the right setup to win two years ago at Kentucky?
“I think the biggest thing was just all the on-track time we had to get ready. At the same time, we unloaded so close to what we ended up racing, we were able to try a whole lot of things in-between. My experience there, along with Dave’s (Rogers, crew chief) experience there, made a huge difference to where we weren’t far off when we unloaded, and it helped us try a bunch of stuff during testing and then practice. The biggest thing that helped us was the open test day on Thursday, with Truck Series activities going on, as well. There was a lot of track time we had that week and, when you come to a new venue, that’s very valuable. Physically, on Thursday of that weekend, it was hot. It’s hot in Kentucky in June, so it was no cakewalk. I remember after I won the Truck race that night, I was pretty worn out. The cool part about it is, Saturday you can rest a bit and get your body where you need it to be. We ran up front the entire night and didn’t have to fight back in traffic, so the car handled really well.”

- True Speed Communication for Mars USA/Joe Gibbs Racing

2013 Kentucky Quaker State 400 Storylines

Martin Truex Jr. now a major player in Chase watch following win
NASCAR Storylines for Week of June 24, 2013

What a homecoming gift for Michael Waltrip Racing.

The Owensboro, Ky., native takes his three Michael Waltrip Racing teams home to the Bluegrass state this weekend for Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 (7:30 p.m. EST, TNT, Performance Racing Radio, SIRIUSXM Radio) at Kentucky Speedway, fresh off of Martin Truex Jr.’s huge road-course victory in California.

Using Truex and winner in the same sentence hadn’t happened for more than six years – 2,210 days to be exact. The 218-race gap between Truex’s victory at Dover International Speedway in June 2007 and Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 triumph at Sonoma Raceway set a NASCAR Sprint Cup record for longest between a driver’s first and second wins.

But it isn’t a fluke for either Truex, a two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and former road-race winner who has finished second six times since his Dover victory, or MWR, which had three wins last year and now has both full-time drivers Truex and Clint Bowyer ranked in the top 10.

It’s “go-time” for drivers hoping to land a berth in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™. Just 10 races remain in the regular season beginning with Kentucky’s night race. Three multiple winners – Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick – have established themselves as champion co-favorites but the jostling among additional contenders continues.

Just 14 points is the difference between 10th – and a Chase lock in – and 14th, which is currently a Chase lock out.

Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart is among the “out” this week although he currently holds one of two Wild Card hands along with Kasey Kahne.

Brad Keselowski is the defending Quaker State 400 winner but without a victory in 2013 – and only nine points to the good as far as the Chase is concerned. Only one previous champion, Tony Stewart in 2006, has failed to qualify for the following year’s postseason during the Chase era. Keselowski and Kyle Busch – the only two NASCAR Sprint Cup winners at Kentucky – will run all three NASCAR national series races this weekend.

All three of NASCAR’s national series will be in action at Kentucky Speedway beginning with a Thursday night date for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (8 p.m. EST, SPEED) and NASCAR Nationwide Series on Friday night (7:30 p.m. EST, ESPN).

While the NNS Feed the Children 300 pays the same number of points as any other event, its finish could be the springboard to a $1 million payoff. Friday night’s race will determine eligibility for Daytona International Speedway’s opening round of the Nationwide Dash 4 Cash (#Dash4Cash) program. The top four points eligible finishers at Kentucky Speedway will race each other for a $100,000 bonus at Daytona.

A driver will claim the $1 million prize by winning bonuses at Daytona, New Hampshire and Chicagoland and taking the victory outright at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway event on July 27.

Regan Smith’s 28-point lead in the standings remains secure – but not as comfortable as the 58 markers he enjoyed before finishing 32nd in last Saturday’s race at Road America. Veteran Justin Allgaier is the new second-place competitor, bypassing Sam Hornish Jr., who led the points earlier in the season.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has seen a major infusion of new – and youthful – talent this season. Sunoco Rookie of the Year leader Jeb Burton, 20, won earlier this month in Texas. Now NASCAR K&N Pro Series East star Brett Moffitt, 20, will make his series debut in Thursday night’s UNOH 225.

Matt Crafton is the series points leader by 23 over Burton.


‘Go Time’ For Chase Contenders With Regular Season Winding Down

It’s go-time with 10 races remaining until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ begins. Four drivers with multiple victories – Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch – have established themselves as championship co-favorites. The remainder of the current top 10, particularly among the second five, remains fluid with weekly comings and goings. The difference between 10th and 14th in the standings is just 14 points.

Sonoma Victory Moves Truex Into Title Conversation
Among the “comers” is Sonoma Raceway winner Martin Truex Jr., who occupied a top-10 position in the standings once already this season (ninth after Charlotte) and stood 34th in the standings after race No. 2 in Phoenix. Truex, a two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and NNS road race winner in Mexico City, bumped Tony Stewart out of 10th and into a possible Wild Card berth. Truex is a single point behind reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and defending Kentucky winner Brad Keselowski.

Kahne, Stewart Hold This Week’s Chase Wild Card Hands
Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart, both one-time winners in 2013, hold the Wild Card hands heading into this weekend’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. Kahne is 11th in points, eight behind Martin Truex Jr. Stewart is 15th, 20 points out of the top 10. Kahne finished second in last year’s Kentucky race while Stewart was 32nd. Among those vying for Wild Card consideration is Paul Menard, third in Wild Card standings but ranked in the top 10 after eight events this year; and Jeff Gordon, who finished second at Sonoma and trails Menard by one position and four points in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.

Gordon Can Fill Dance Card, Improve Chase Chances At Kentucky
Kentucky Speedway is the only “blank spot” on Jeff Gordon’s 87-victory dance card. The four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion counts at least one victory on every other track currently scheduled having erased Homestead-Miami Speedway from the short list last November. Gordon finished fifth at Kentucky Speedway a year ago behind Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne (second) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fourth). Jimmie Johnson was sixth placing each HMS car in the top 10.

Ford Teams Gain Momentum As Gen-6 Development Continues
Through much of the early season – and as teams develop their Gen-6 race cars – Ford had appeared to trail both Chevrolet and Toyota. The tide appears to be changing. Two Ford teams and three Ford Fusion drivers occupy top-10 positions in the standings. Carl Edwards, who trails leader Jimmie Johnson by 25 points, is second with one victory. Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle, the Pocono winner earlier this month, is sixth. Brad Keselowski and Penske Racing stand ninth. A third-place finish at Sonoma was Edwards’ best since Talladega while Biffle recorded his third consecutive top 10. Keselowski’s teammate, Joey Logano, continues to impress in his first season in the No. 22 Ford. An 11th-place finish on the road course snapped a four-race, top-10 run but left the Connecticut driver just 14 points out of a Chase eligible ranking.


Kenseth should fare well at Kentucky Saturday night

Matt Kenseth has done well on 1.5-mile tracks this season
Matt Kenseth
No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Preview
Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway

No. 20 Dollar General Toyota News and Notes:
KENSETH BY THE NUMBERS: Kenseth has made only two Sprint Cup Series career starts at Kentucky Speedway and has completed all 534 laps he’s raced. Kenseth has an average starting position of 16.5 and an average finish of 6.5 at the 1.5-mile track in Sparta, Kentucky.

JOE GIBBS RACING AT SONOMA: Joe Gibbs Racing has six Sprint Cup Series starts at Kentucky Speedway and has earned one win, two top-five, and three top-ten finishes. The organization has led for a total of 306 laps, has an average start of 10.8, an average finish of 10.2, and completed 1,601 of 1,602 (99.9 percent) laps.

THIS WEEK ON THE NO. 20 DOLLAR GENERAL TOYOTA: Dollar General vendor partners STP, Slim Jim, Lysol, Maxwell House, Gildan, Ragu, Colgate, Glad, Sundown Naturals and Cottonelle will be featured on Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry this weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

RACE INFO: Coverage of the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway (1.5-mile) begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 23rd. The race will be broadcast live on TNT, Sirius XM Channel 90 and PRN Radio.

From the Cockpit:

Matt Kenseth: “I probably have the least amount of experience at Kentucky almost as anybody. We didn’t test a lot there before it became a Cup track and I never ran any of the Truck or Nationwide races there. It’s a different track; it’s kind of tricky and really different, but I’ve enjoyed it the few races I’ve run there so far. I think anytime you go to a track that’s either a home track or near your sponsor’s headquarters where the sponsors bring a lot of people out with the employees, I think it’s always more exciting if you win because you get to hang out with so many people. There are maybe more people there at those tracks pulling for you. They’re all big races, but certainly if you can win close to where some of your sponsors are, like we are this weekend with the Toyota facility here in Kentucky, then it’s always a little more special.”

From the Pit Box:

Jason Ratcliff:
“Kentucky is one of my favorite tracks from being on the Nationwide Series side. I just always liked going there because I always felt like we were fast and competitive there so it is one of those tracks that I really enjoy going to. I also lived not too far from that area for several years when I was first starting out in this sport so I’m also just very familiar with the track and the area. Kentucky is similar to Las Vegas in the sense that the track just gets rougher and rougher every year. That change in the track surface though gives it a lot of character and makes it a lot different even though it’s the same shape as several other tracks that we visit. Kentucky always seems to put on a pretty good race so I’m looking forward to this weekend.”

- Joe Gibbs Racing

Tracks Facts: 2013 Quaker State 400 at Kentucky

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2013 Top 12 at Kentucky Speedway
 DriverRacesPolesWinsTop FivesTop 10sDNFsAverage FinishDriver Rating
1Jimmie Johnson2101204.5119.5
2Carl Edwards20011012.594.3
3Clint Bowyer20000125.570.5
4Kevin Harvick20000013.588.2
5Matt Kenseth2000206.598.2
6Greg Biffle20000021.084.9
7Dale Earnhardt Jr.20011017.088.3
8Kyle Busch2011205.5133.0
9Brad Keselowski2011204.0128.2
10Martin Truex Jr.20001013.088.8
11Kasey Kahne2001107.596.7
12Paul Menard20000018.080.2
* – Based on last two races at Kentucky Speedway.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2013 Wildcard Standings Following Sonoma
                                       Points           Points
RankDriversWinsPositionPointsFrom 10thStartsPolesT5sT10sDNFs
1Kasey Kahne111445-8160572
2Tony Stewart115433-20160350
3Paul Menard012445-8160040
4Jeff Gordon013441-12160454
5Joey Logano014439-14160472
6Aric Almirola016428-25160042
7Kurt Busch017425-28161462
8Ryan Newman018418-35160274
9Ricky Stenhouse Jr.019406-47160000
10Jeff Burton020403-50160131
11David Ragan129276-177160113

The Cup series makes its third visits to Kentucky Speedway this week
At Kentucky Speedway:
·        In 1998, the track broke ground in Sparta, Kentucky, and opened as a 1.5-mile speedway in 2000.
·        The original owners, Jerry Carroll and four other investors owned the track until 2008, when current owners, Speedway Motorsports Inc. purchased the facility.
·        Since 2000, the track has hosted 13 NASCAR Nationwide Series (2001-2012) and 15 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races (2000-2012).
·        The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held there in 2011 – won by Kyle Busch.
·        There have been two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kentucky Speedway since the first race in 2011 – one race per season.
·        Fifty drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway; 36 in more than one.
·        The first NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying at Kentucky was cancelled due to weather. The starting line-up was set per the rule book.
·        Jimmie Johnson has the only Coors Light pole at Kentucky – 181.818 mph, 29.700 secs.
·        Youngest and oldest Kentucky pole winner: Jimmie Johnson (6/30/2012 – 36 years, nine months, 13 days).
·        Two different NSCS drivers have won at Kentucky Speedway: Kyle Busch (7/09/2011) and Brad Keselowski(6/30/2012).
·        Youngest Kentucky winner: Kyle Busch (6/30/2011 – 26 years, two months, seven days).
·        Oldest Kentucky winner: Brad Keselowski (6/30/2012 – 28 years, four months, 18 days).
·        Joe Gibbs Racing (2011) and Penske Racing (2012) each have one victory at Kentucky Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
·        Two different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Kentucky: Toyota (2011) and Dodge (2012).
·        Kyle Busch won the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky from the first starting position (qualifying was canceled; starting lineup set by rule book).
·        One of the two (50%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Kentucky have been won from the front row.
·        Both of the NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Kentucky have been won from a top-five starting position.
·        The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Kentucky was fourth, by Brad Keselowski last season.
·        Two different drivers have posted NSCS runner-up finishes at Kentucky: David Reutimann (2011) and Kasey Kahne (2012).
·        In the two NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Kentucky, 10 different drivers have posted top-five finishes.    
·        In the two NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Kentucky 15 different drivers have posted top-10 finishes; five have posted two: Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth.
·        Kyle Busch leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Kentucky with a 1.500.
·        Brad Keselowski leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Kentucky with a 4.0. Jimmie Johnson (4.5), Kyle Busch (5.5), Matt Kenseth (6.5), Denny Hamlin (7.0), Jeff Gordon (7.5), Kasey Kahne (7.5),are the other active drivers with an average finish in the top 10.
·        The closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky Speedway was the June 30, 2012 race won by Kyle Busch over David Reutimann with a MOV of 0.179 second.
·        Neither of the two NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Kentucky Speedway have resulted with a green-white-checkered finish.
·        Neither of the two NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Kentucky Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions.
·        Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky Speedway once; the 2011 race.
·        Kyle Busch leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Kentucky with 243 laps led in two starts. Brad Keselowski has led the second-most with 147.
·        Danica Patrick will attempt to become the first female driver to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky Speedway.
Kentucky Speedway Data
Season Race #: 17 of 36 (06-29-13)
Track Size: 1.5-miles
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 14 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 14 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 8 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 8 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 1,662 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,600 feet
Race Length: 200 laps / 300 miles

Top 12 Driver Rating at Kentucky
Kyle Busch133.0
Brad Keselowski128.2
Jimmie Johnson119.5
Denny Hamlin105.0
Matt Kenseth.98.2
Kasey Kahne96.7
Carl Edwards94.3
Kurt Busch92.6
Jeff Gordon89.8
Martin Truex Jr.88.8
Dale Earnhardt Jr.88.3
Kevin Harvick88.2

NASCAR in Kentucky
  • There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Kentucky.
Track NameCityNSCS
Kentucky SpeedwaySparta2
Corbin SpeedwayCorbin1