A NASCAR tripleheader weekend is on tap at Kentucky Speedway.
All three of NASCAR’s national series will be in action at the 1.5-mile speedway, including Thursday’s Camping World Truck Series Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 (MRN, 7 p.m. ET), Friday’s Xfinity Series Alsco 300 and Saturday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400.
Martin Truex Jr. is the defending Quaker State 400 winner but understands repeating won’t be easy. The recently repaved and reconfigured Kentucky track provides a unique challenge for drivers looking to find Victory Lane.
“Kentucky is really tough – everybody talks about how difficult Turn 3 is,” Truex said. “Turns 1 and 2 have a lot of banking so you carry a lot of speed down the backstretch. And then Turn 3 is just really flat, not a lot of banking, and the car tends to be really loose so I think everybody struggles there to make their cars work right. It’s really not about being good. It’s about being better than everybody else.
“The last two years we went with a setup I could manage and our cars obviously had good speed. It definitely wasn’t easy. We’re going to do all we can to try to keep winning races and get some more stage wins along the way.”
Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch have combined to win five of the seven Cup races won at Kentucky taking three and two victories, respectively. A third Bluegrass State win by Busch on Saturday night would give the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers six for the year and break the tie he currently has for series victories with Kevin Harvick.
“I love Kentucky,” Busch said. “It was special there in 2011, when we were able to win the first Cup race there, and it stayed that way during our win there two years ago. I look forward to going back every year. It’s a pretty challenging racetrack. It used to be a place that lends itself to different kinds of setups because it was so rough.
“Fast lap times at Kentucky come from momentum. The place is so round that there’s not a ton of banking compared to some other 1.5-milers. It’s all about how round the corners are and just being able to maintain corner speed and stay on the gas. It’s a place we get excited about, for sure.”
Elliott Sadler retook the Xfinity Series point lead last weekend at Daytona and has a 12 point advantage coming into Friday night’s Alsco 300. The JR Motorsports driver last series win came at Kentucky in September of 2016 and the veteran would like nothing more than to take the checkered flag.
“We’ve come so close too many times this season,” Sadler said. “Our goal on Friday is to bring home another jukebox and celebrate our fast cars in Victory Lane.”
Only three drivers in Camping World Truck Series history have been multi-race winners at Kentucky. Ron Hornaday won three times at the track (2006, 2009, 2011), James Buescher won twice (two times in 2012), as did Busch (2011, 2014).
Matt Crafton is the only driver entered to race this weekend with the chance to be a multi-race winner at Kentucky. No other driver entered has ever won at the 1.5-mile track. If Crafton can pull off this win, it will be his first of the season.
“Kentucky Speedway and I have had a love-hate relationship, to be quite honest – it’s been really good to us at times, and really bad for us too,” Crafton said. “With the new asphalt on it, there is a difference in the corners. Turns 1 and 2 are wide-open, with a bunch of banking, and Turns 3 and 4 are virtually flat compared to 1 and 2. So, it’s a huge juggling act to try and get the balance of the vehicle right.”
Crafton has 19 starts at Kentucky with five top fives, 14 top 10s and 79 laps led. He started on the pole and led 43 laps before he won in 2015.