NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, KY this weekend for races in all of NASCAR’S top three touring series. Kentucky has hosted each of these series in past years beginning with the Camping World Truck Series in 2000 and most recently the Sprint Cup Series in 2011.
Saturday’s Sprint Cup Series race, the Quaker State 400, will be the third Sprint Cup Series race ever held in the Blue Grass State. The Cup Series inaugural race at Kentucky Speedway was the 2011 Quaker State 400. Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Kyle Busch, claimed victory of the historical event.
Success is no stranger to Busch at Kentucky. He has experience racing at Kentucky Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and the ARCA Racing Series. He has been to victory lane four times, once from each series.
When asked if he can put his finger on why he has been so good at Kentucky in all divisions, Busch said, “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.”
Busch is running races in all three NASCAR divisions this weekend. His No. 51 ToyotaCare Toyota had a third place finish in the Camping World Truck Series Thursday night, and he finished fifth in the Nationwide Series Feed the Children 300 on Friday night. The Quaker State 400 will be Busch’s third race of the weekend. He will be starting in fourth position Saturday night in his No. 18 Doublemint Toyota.
Last year’s winner of the Quaker State 400, Brad Keselowski, is also running all three NASCAR division races this weekend. The weekend has proven to be successful for Keselowski thus far with the first two races already completed. He earned a second place finish Thursday night in the Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225, and won the Nationwide Series Feed the Children 300 Friday night after the race was called for rain. Keselowksi’s Miller Lite Ford will be starting the final race of the weekend in eighth position.
When asked why Kentucky fits him well, Keselowski responded, “I think one of the things I like about Kentucky is that it is one of the few tracks that I have always felt kind of heads up to the field. I guess to elaborate on that, it is my fourth year in the Sprint Cup and in some ways it feels like I have been here forever and in some ways it feels like I haven’t. When you go to tracks like Texas and Atlanta and places like that where there are a fair amount of drivers with more experience that I do, I always feel like I am that one little step behind. Here at Kentucky there is no driver that has more experience than me. We are on an even footing all the way. In fact, if anything, I feel like I might be slightly up because I have a couple more Nationwide starts and so forth. I think that leads to some of my comfort here.”
Being the first two drivers to win a Cup series race at Kentucky and being the only two drivers to enter all three races this weekend, Busch and Keselowski will have their final chance to “cash-in” on their previous success and extra track exposure Saturday night with the 2013 Quaker State 400.