SPARTA, Ky. – For Carl Edwards, repeating history would be a perfect way to make history when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series inaugural “Quaker State 400” unfolds at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night.
Anybody’s road to victory, however, will include a few bumps and an abundance of resistance from the likes of Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer.
Edwards, who will enter the “Quaker State 400” five points behind NSCS championship leader Kevin Harvick, will be looking to claim NASCAR’s version of a Kentucky “Triple Crown” when he gets behind the wheel of his No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion.
The 31-year-old from Columbia, Mo., claimed his first NASCAR victory in 2003 by taking the checkered flag for a 225-mile NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in Kentucky and visited Victory Lane in the commonwealth a second time after taking a 300-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series win in 2005.
While he expects his previous Kentucky experience to pay some dividend Saturday, he also expects unique racing conditions to challenge not only him, but the full 43-car “Quaker State 400” field.
“It’s a track with a lot of character, and bumps are part of it. The thing about a racetrack like this is it’s not just one groove, sitting on the white line, single-file racing. It’s going to be a racetrack where you can chase a guy down, pressure him, get him to go through bumps the wrong way and maybe slide him up the track,” Edwards said.
Stewart will be making his Kentucky Speedway NASCAR debut in his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 machine Saturday. He said Thursday’s opening four-hour test session and the two-hour session that follows should neutralize the advantage held by drivers with racing experience at Kentucky Speedway.
“I don’t think it matters. There is a reason all these guys in this series have gotten to this level,” said Stewart, who enters the “Quaker State 400” 12th in the NSCS championship standings and 92 points behind leader Kevin Harvick. “They’ve learned how to figure it out pretty quick. Having six hours of practice overall is going to help us.”
Bowyer sits ninth NSCS standings and started the week 81 points behind Harvick. He said he expects to drive his Richard Childress Racing machine through some fireworks Saturday night.
“This surface is rough, but it makes it challenging; it gives the place a lot of character,” said Bowyer, who took a career Kentucky-best third-place finish in a 300-mile NNS event in the commonwealth. “It’s going to be a great race. The track keeps getting wider and wider (as it rubbers in). Hopefully, by the time the race starts we can race two- or three-wide.”
Today’s Sprint Cup Series testing and practice for Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series “Feed The Children 300” will be followed by the NCWTS “UNOH 225.” The green flag waves for the 12th NCWTS race in track history waves at 8:00 p.m. tonight.
Tickets remain and can be purchased at the speedway gates.