Kentucky Rear View Mirror
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on June 28, 2014 | 11:59 P.M. EST
Brad Keselowski celebrates after his dominating win at Kentucky Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
A classic butt kicking.
That’s the best way to sum up Saturday’s Quaker State 400 and the dominating performance by Brad Keselowski. The Team Penske driver led 199 of the 267 laps and after passing Kyle Busch with 19 laps to go easily sailed to his second win of the season.
It was a return to form for Keselowski, who by his standards has struggled of late particularly last week in Sonoma. But the effort in Kentucky paired with a top-10 finish by teammate Joey Logano, who was also strong and led laps until he was forced to nurse a sour engine to the finish, re-established Penske as a powerhouse.
The combination of Keselowski’s dominance and the finicky Kentucky surface, which is by far the roughest certainly of the intermediate tracks on the circuit, combined for an overall mild night in the Bluegrass State. There were some fireworks and torn up race cars along the way, notably blown tires that knocked Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson out after trips into the wall and a multi-car accident late sweeping up Jamie McMurray and Aric Almirola among others.
But passing was at a premium and many drivers are still evidently battling the 2014 1.5-mile track rules package.
However, one driver didn’t have appear to have any such challenges and probably wishes a return to Kentucky was on this year’s schedule.
That would be Brad Keselowski.
- Keselowski and Logano were head and shoulders above the rest of their Ford colleagues with Marcos Ambrose the next best from the Blue Oval camp in 13th. After winning last week in Sonoma, Roush Fenway went back into its funk with Greg Biffle 14th, Carl Edwards 17th and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finishing 25th. Clearly the schism between Penske and RFR continues to be wide and the gap may even be growing as the year races on.
- While the spotlight was rightfully on Keselowski and Logano, the performance by Hendrick Motorsports can’t be overlooked. For the third straight race, all four of the Hendrick drivers finished in the top-10 led by Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s fifth-place effort. Jeff Gordon was sixth, Kasey Kahne eighth and Jimmie Johnson came home tenth to round out the night for Rick Hendrick’s team, which despite playing second fiddle to Keselowski, Penske and Ford this week still remain extremely potent.
- Joe Gibbs Racing’s announcement that Matt Kenseth has signed a contract extension was good news for the driver and the team but it didn’t shed any light on the future of the organization. As team president J.D. Gibbs said last week, any news of the organization possibly expanding to four Sprint Cup Series teams and adding Carl Edwards to the fold wouldn’t come until September if at all. But with the departure of long time sponsor Home Depot next year, it appears all systems are still go with the 20 team keeping Kenseth in the fold as well as upping Dollar General’s support of the team.
- Another week and another challenging race on pit road for Kevin Harvick. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver lost 14 spots on an early race trip to the pits when a tire change went wrong, which was compounded when he suffered a loose wheel back on track. However his team did gain some positions on a subsequent stop. Overall there still isn’t enough continuity and consistency from Harvick’s over the wall gang, a trend that will add up to an early exit from championship contention once the Chase rolls around.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.