Quaker State 400 Preview
After surviving the Sonoma road course last week, the NASCAR circuit moves to the more traditional “cookie cutter” track at Kentucky on Saturday night. The Kentucky Speedway opened in 2000 in a 1.5-mile tri-oval shape. All the turns have an identical banking of 14°, making it one of the flattest of the six other similar tracks (Atlanta, Charlotte, Texas, Las Vegas, Kansas and Chicagoland). The frontstretch, which measures 1,662 feet is banked at just 18° while the backstretch measures a similar 1,600 feet, but with only half the banking (4°) of the frontstretch. There has only been one NASCAR race at Kentucky, and that was last year when Kyle Busch took the checkered flag.
Drivers to Watch
Carl Edwards (10/1) – Edwards continues to disappoint this season, finishing no better that fifth place, which came way back in the fifth race of the season. However, he still has cranked out eight top-10’s and three 11th-place finishes in the 16 races of 2012. Edwards is always in the running at “cookie-cutter” tracks, posting top-5’s in his past eight starts on these similar tracks, including a fifth-place finish at Kentucky last year.
Jimmie Johnson (5/1) – The race favorite has dominated this type of track in his career, including top-3 finishes in Las Vegas, Texas and Kansas. He also came in third in Kentucky’s inaugural race last year. And with last week’s top-5 finish at Sonoma, Johnson is on an impressive six-start run, placing 1st, 11th, 1st, 4th, 5th and 5th. That gives him top-6 finishes in eight of his past 10 starts.
Martin Truex Jr. (25/1) – If you’re looking for a longshot, take a flier on Truex Jr. who has finished no worse than 17th in his four “cookie-cutter” races this season. This includes top-10 finishes at both Texas and Kansas. Although he’s at his lowest place in the points standings (ninth) since the first week of the season, expect Truex Jr. to race near the front of the pack all night.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (12/1) – Coming off his worst finish of the year in Sonoma (23rd), Earnhardt Jr. lives for these kinds of tracks with five straight top-10’s on “cookie cutters.” And it’s no fluke that he’s sitting third in the points standings with an impressive dozen top-10’s, a half dozen top-5’s, which includes his long-awaited win in Michigan two weeks ago.
Greg Biffle (8/1) – He’s an interesting play this week because Biffle has been inconsistent in his past nine races placing 5th, 18th, 5th, 12th, 4th, 11th, 24th, 4th and 7th. But he’s still second in the points standings, which is why his odds remain on the low side. Biffle has thrived on tracks built like Kentucky, finishing in the top-5 in Las Vegas, Texas (which he won), Kansas and Charlotte.
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