Tag Archives: Kentucky Speedway

A Short NASCAR Sprint Cup Field is Healthy for the Sport

This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to the Kentucky Speedway for the fourth time. There are only 42 cars entered for the race, which typically has a 43 car field. The last time there was a short field was in 1997 when only 42 cars ran because the 43rd spot was reserved for a former Cup Champion that didn’t qualify. There was also a shot field for the New Hampshire race that was rescheduled in 2001 due to what happened the week of 9-11.

It is being said that having a short field is a reflection of problems in NASCAR, the economy and racing in general. In reality it might actually be healthy for the sport.

The past five or more years there have been many “Start and Park” teams. These teams qualify for the race; start the race, then after sometimes as few as one lap they park in order to earn the last place money. This is not very exciting for the fans and in fact somewhat insulting. This and this alone has been unhealthy for the sport. Sure some of those teams used the money to further their Nationwide programs, but it just doesn’t look good and is not in the spirit of competition.

Having a spot open in the field leads to opportunities for other teams to concentrate on the bigger picture, not just qualifying for the race. Since they are all but guaranteed to make the race, they can attract a sponsor since that sponsor will know that the car will be in the race.

Many of the lower teams have been caught in a Catch-22 of only being able to work on qualifying in order to make the race instead of working on racing. Their on-track performance has suffered due to not being able to get their cars up to speed in race conditions. This is a big opportunity for them to step it up and be able to better compete.

If some of those teams can better compete, then the overall racing will be better and that is what we as fans want more than anything.

If you cannot get to Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts it will be broadcast on TNT on Saturday Night, June 28th at 6:30 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 287476 Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images

 

Jeff Gordon Wants to Check Kentucky Speedway off his List

Last week NASCAR and Jeff Gordon were at the Sonoma Raceway for some road course racing. Jeff Gordon was running down Carl Edwards but couldn’t catch him and finished second. This week Gordon and NASCAR are back at Kentucky Speedway for some more traditional racing. It is possible both drivers will pick right back up where they were. This week is the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway.

The Kentucky Speedway is a D shaped oval. You might hear people refer to it as one of the cookie cutter speedways. That is true to a point except some of them have much more banking than others. This track has some of the least banking of all of them, more similar to Chicagoland Speedway. The fact that this speedway is also well weathered and bumpy should make for some interesting racing.

Each week we look at the driver ratings to see who might be good at a particular track. The problem with driver ratings is that they are not as telling if there are not many races in this statistic. Since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has only run at Kentucky three times, the stats that look compelling might not be so.

According to the driver ratings, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch have ratings of 125.9 and 125.2 which are phenomenal for a 1.5 mile speedway. These are the product of only a few races but that doesn’t mean they are not good here. Consequently Jeff Gordon’s rating of 91.8 isn’t as bad as it looks considering he has all top ten finishes.  It takes about seven races before any one race doesn’t dominate the driver rating stat.

Since those stats are not as reliable as they normally would be, that leaves us to fish. One only needs to look to one of the similar 1.5 mile speedways. At Kansas Speedway Jeff Gordon led only nine laps over Kevin Harvick to win. Joey Logano also led a whole bunch of laps. Rounding out the drivers who were good were Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne. Other drivers to watch are previous winners; Kyle Busch—who is trying to win all three races this week, Brad Keselowski, and last year’s winner Matt Kenseth. Carl Edwards, who won a Nationwide and Truck Series race, is also a threat.

Gordon said, “Kentucky is a very challenging track that is tough to win on. The transitions are tricky – it’s pretty flat from the back straightaway into to Turn 3 plus there’s a huge bump going in there.”

Since this track is relatively new to the schedule Jeff Gordon has never won here, nor has Jimmie Johnson.

“Winning at all the tracks would be something that I would be very proud of.” Gordon added “But it seems every time we get close to accomplishing that goal, another track is added! But I think winning at all the tracks would be a pretty awesome feat.”

Jeff Gordon and his team led by Alan Gustafson have been having the best season in years. They are poised to add to their win and be solidly in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

If you cannot get to Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts it will be broadcast on TNT on Saturday Night, June 28th at 6:30 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 298001 Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Kentucky
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 125.9
Kyle Busch…………………………. 125.2
Matt Kenseth……………………….. 109.3
Brad Keselowski………………….. 104.8
Kasey Kahne………………………… 98.2
Denny Hamlin……………………….. 98.1
Carl Edwards………………………… 94.5
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 91.8
Martin Truex Jr………………………. 90.7
Kurt Busch……………………………. 90.6
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (three total) among active drivers at Kentucky Speedway.