SPARTA, KY – This weekend, all three NASCAR Touring Series kick it in gear and head to the Bourbon-rich state where Kentucky Speedway is located. Mark your calendar phones now because the races are Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.
The 1.5-mile track of Kentucky is also becoming known for an aspect that has developed the past few years regarding the racing surface – bumpy. Watch the front ends of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series as they traverse the track to see it for yourself.
What Cup News Will Runeth Over
In the last two races, we’ve seen two first-time winners go to Victory Lane. Alex Bowman won a rain-delayed Chicagoland Speedway race three races ago, which was expected of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team. Then last weekend, Justin Haley was awarded the win for a day-delayed because of rain, and rain shortened, race at Daytona International Speedway.
And, the headlines weren’t about his winning in just his third Cup start, or about all he endured to get there. They were about why NASCAR called it the way they did, how Kurt Busch was done dirty and how Haley’s team, the under-funded Spire Motorsports, shouldn’t even be a team because they’re really a sports agency.
But, that was last then and this is now…meaning its time to race at Kentucky.
Who Ya Got?
If you’re going to go off prior success at Kentucky, then start with Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex, Jr. Those three have combined for seven of the last eight Cup wins at Kentucky.
The No. 18 Toyota driver of Busch has three wins to the two of Keselowski and Truex, and has been very strong on the 1.5-milers this year. If you want to go off recent success, then go with the No. 19 Toyota of Truex who has won the last two races at Kentucky.
There are nine positions still open to make the Playoffs this season. Seven are in by wins and the others in the Top-16 are hovering by points. Ryan Newman is one point out of the cutoff spot and looking to channel the past few weeks success into moving up.
Jimmie Johnson, winless in 72 races, had good showings the past few races with finishes of third and fourth. IF the Playoffs started today, he’s locked in at 13th sitting +34 from the cutoff.
Austin Dillon is out of the top-16 and needs a win to get in. Of the drivers out of the Playoffs, he has the most appearances with three.
Its Saturday night under the lights with a 7:30 p.m. ET start on NBCSN-TV.
Xfinity and Beyond
The much-talked about Big Three of Christopher Bell, Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick have combined to win 11 of the first 16 races. Bell is the defending winner and hasn’t slowed down from last year’s success.
Ross Chastain earned the most-recent win at Daytona, but declared for Truck Series points last month making him ineligible for the Playoffs.
Of the winning three, Reddick has the best average top-10 finishes at the 1.5 mile tracks.
Friday Night Lights for racing takes place at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN-TV.
Truckin on Thursday
Ross Chastain has been mashing the gas winning an Xfinity race (Daytona) and Truck race (Gateway) in the past few weeks. He’s looking to break into the top-20 to make the Playoffs.
He is currently 10 markers away from reaching that goal.
Local favorite Stewart Friesen will have his work cut out for him. During pre-practice inspection, it was deemed the Chevrolet of his firewall did not meet NASCAR’s standards. Thus, the team had to roll out the back up No. 52 Halmar Racing machine, prep it for practice, qualifying and the race.
He’s been strong on the 1.5-mile tracks this year, so maybe they made him mad enough to dominate his way into Victory Lane – finally. Good news is, he looks pretty much a lock to make the Playoffs.
Race time is 7:30 p.m. on FS1-TV