Kentucky Speedway is set to host a tripleheader of NASCAR racing.
All three national series will be in action on the 1.5-mile track beginning Thursday night with the Gander Outdoors Truck Series while the Xfinity Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series headline the following two nights of racing.
In an effort to create better competition at the recently repaved and reconfigured 1.5-mile track, PJ1 traction compound will be applied in addition to running the Tire Dragon to provide additional grip.
Martin Truex Jr. rides a two-race winning streak into Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver won the last two editions of the annual visit to the Bluegrass State. Truex Jr. is a four-time winner in 2019, tied with his JGR teammate Kyle Busch who also has won twice at Kentucky, including the inaugural running of the Quaker State 400 in 2011.
“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 four 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.”
Friday night the Xfinity Series takes center stage for the Alsco 300. It will be another opportunity for the “Big 3” of Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer to put a win on the board or for a different driver to break through as Ross Chastain did last week at Daytona. Bell and Reddick have won the last two Xfinity Series races at Kentucky and each hope to double up Friday night.
Reddick has the best average finish on 1.5-mile tracks this year at 6.2 followed closely by Michael Annett at 6.4. The JR Motorsports driver has his eyes set on improving that mark and putting win number two of 2019 on the board.
“I said a couple of weeks ago that racing well on these types of tracks will pay off in the playoffs, and it’s even more the case now,” Annett said. “Travis (Mack, crew chief) and the rest of the team have done a fantastic job of giving me fast Chevrolet Camaros, and we’ve been in contention to win a lot of races so far this year. I think you’ll see us in that same position at Kentucky.”
The weekend kicks off Thursday night with the Gander Outdoors Truck Series Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 (MRN, 7 p.m. ET). Kentucky native Ben Rhodes is the defending race winner and is looking for his first win of the season. He has three second place finish in 2019.
All eyes will be on Ross Chastain as he continues his improbable quest to make this year’s playoff field. He has the necessary win in hand needed to qualify but must get inside the top 20 in the point standings. The Niece Motorsports driver is only 10 points away from that goal heading to Kentucky. He has four races remaining in the regular season to break into the top 20.