At one point early in the Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway Kyle Busch has a lead of over 8 seconds. Busch, who started on the pole by being the fastest in happy hour practice after the qualifying session was cancelled due to rain, gave up the lead for a while to Brad Keselowski held off David Reutimann in a 3 lap shoot out at the end.
[media-credit name=”Brian Douglas” align=”alignright” width=”273″][/media-credit]The majority of the race was uneventful as the leaders enjoyed the clean air while others struggled mightily with the track. Unfortunately, most of the action was reportedly outside the track as race fans struggled with gridlocked traffic trying to get to the racetrack. There were reports of fans being turned away when they finally made it to the track. Jeff Gordon said after the race, “I think the only thing that made this a great race today was the green-white-checkered and the excitement and energy of the fans. I think when Bruton (Smith) is looking at how to get the traffic in here he’s going to have to look at the race track as well. It’s rough. It’s really hard to pass. The layout needs a little help; but the surface most importantly, to give these fans what they really deserve. You never know how it’s going to go. It was certainly exciting there at the finish, so that’s cool.”
Busch had regained the lead late in the race during green flag pit stops but shortly after Dale Earnhardt Jr., who took fuel only blew a left front tire shredding his fender all over the back stretch. On the subsequent restart Jimmie Johnson was chasing down Busch but Clint Bowyer also appeared to have lost a tire and that brought out the final caution.
Jimmie Johnson finished third , Ryan Newman fourth and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five. Johnson said, “The No. 00 was coming and got by me so i was hoping I had a shot just to fight for second. I felt like the win was kind of gone at that point. But I didn’t see the white and I came around and everybody let off and I was still on the gas and going and I was like wow I guess its over. Great night for the Lowe’s Chevrolet. We had a a very solid race car. Drove up through the field a few times and raced for the win. The No. 18 was a little better than us and we were on equal tires there at the end. We had a shot at him on new tires. That restart went good for me. If I could have stayed along side of him going into turn three and been side-by-side off of four I could have a shot at it but just didn’t work out that way. If there was another lap I think that No. 00 was going to go right by that No. 18, he was coming awfully fast.”
Johnson also made comments about the issues of getting to the track. People who follow NASCAR on twitter (@coombsegater_sm) would have seen that even the drivers and crews were not immune to the traffic issues as they all struggled getting to the track even hours before the green flag flew. Johnson said when informed of Hamlin’s issues, I went home to Charlotte. It was my daughter’s birthday yesterday. I went home. I was going to drive in. I had heard there were some issues with the Nationwide race. So I made different arrangements and helicoptered in. I fortunately didn’t have any issues.
The stories I heard sounds like there’s some upset fans, people that were turned away and weren’t able to get into the event today.
It’s disappointing. I mean, the SMI group knows racetracks and does a very good job at all the racetracks they own. It’s unfortunate we were unable to look ahead and see where these potential problems were.
This is such a great market, so many fans are enthused to come and want to be here. To not get them all in the door is kind of a bummer. Knowing Bruton (Smith), he’ll get it fixed for next year and unfortunately it happened this year.”
During the race the track sent out this statement, “We’ve had an overwhelming response to our inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series “Quaker State 400.” We know we had challenges related to traffic. We’re already planning improvements and looking forward to a much better situation for next year’s event