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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Teams take on the Kentucky Speedway Saturday night and it should prove to be a very interesting race. It’s another Saturday night under the lights and for this fan, there’s just nothing like NASCAR’s Saturday night races. It reminds many of us where we used to spend many of our Saturday nights whether we were just fan’s or whether we were drivers sitting in our cars waiting for the green flag to wave as we started our races at our local tracks. Like I’ve said many times before; there’s just something special about Saturday night racing and NASCAR races on a Saturday night are no different.
The Kentucky Speedway is a challenging track and this fan doesn’t think it was by accident. They built it the way they built it for a reason and it is a unique track with its own character. If they had built it the same at both ends it likely wouldn’t have been the challenge that it is. Instead, they made turns one and two different from turns three and four and that’s one of the things that makes it so challenging.
In case you’re not familiar with the Kentucky Speedway, turns one and two have 17 degrees of banking and turns three and four have 14 degrees of banking. To add to the challenge of getting through turns three and four, it is a little downhill from the entry to the exit. The difference between the two drives the crew chiefs and engineers crazy when it comes to setup and frustrates the drivers to no end, looking for the right feel at both ends of the track.
Qualifying was cut short after only two of the three planned rounds but Kyle Bush set a new track record and won the pole for the Quaker State 400 for Saturday night. Not only that but he also qualified first for the Xfinity series race that was delayed for the same weather reasons until Saturday afternoon. That makes for a very busy day for any of the drivers expecting to run in both series races. It all adds up to at least 700 miles they will run if they complete all of the laps in both series races. Hopefully it won’t be a real hot day and night of racing for them but hey, I know they’re in much better shape than most of us fans. I’m sure they’ll know they’ve had a workout when both races are done though…
The speeds are definitely up this year at the Kentucky Speedway and, during qualifying, Chase Elliott was the first to break the old track record and he was at the top of the list for the first round. From this fan’s view, it looks like he might be one to watch when it comes down to the final laps of the Quaker State 400. He is looking for his first win and looking to be qualified for the playoffs – well, at least hopefully be qualified.
If anything can be said or assumed about the Hendrick teams for this weekend, it did appear all of them had good speed and qualified in the top fifteen. That means it could be a Hendrick team celebrating in Victory Lane at the end of the night. Kasey Kahne looked very strong and, if any one of the HMS Chevys need to have a good night it would be him. He has struggled almost all season long and it hasn’t always been his fault. He just needs a few breaks to go his way and he could take the checkered flag and the trophy. I’m not saying he will; I’m just saying he could…
It is definitely coming down to crunch time for the JGR Toyotas and all of them were showing good speed in practice and qualifying. It could be that Kyle Bush wins it from the pole or it could be that one of his teammates ends up in Victory Lane. I just don’t know how it will go for them. They haven’t shown the same strength and domination they did last season by this time and it does seem they have been struggling at least somewhat. All of them, Kyle, Denny, Matt and Daniel, have had good runs but just haven’t been there at the end. Maybe this night will be different for them. Who knows… they may sweep the top four (and wouldn’t that be something…)
I haven’t talked about the Stewart/Haas teams much lately but it seems they might be poised to have another winner soon. It may not be at Kentucky but it could be any of them over the next few weeks. Clint Bowyer has been steady but just hasn’t quite been in first place at the right time. I’m not saying it will but, it could change for him right here at Kentucky.
When it comes down to the final laps, I’m expecting it to be a battle and not really a runaway for just one of them. Of course I could be wrong (and it wouldn’t be the first time) but there are a lot of drivers looking to win and needing a win. I expect that to show as the laps wind down and the strategies play out. Who knows… Dale Jr. might be able to actually finish and could easily end up in Victory Lane. But then again, so could several others I haven’t mentioned. Oh well… that’s just the way it is in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup racing…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 8, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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