Tag Archives: Kentucky Speedway

New Sprint Cup rules package set to debut at Kentucky Speedway

NASCAR will introduce a new rules package July 11 at Kentucky Speedway, executive vice president Steve O’Donnell announced Tuesday afternoon.

The changes, which were slated to be used at the Sprint All-Star Race in May, will include a shorter spoiler (3.5 inches, down from the current 6 inches), less overhang on the front splitter (down by 1.75 inches), and softer tires (increased grip). Downforce will be reduced overall. Practice time on July 8 will be lengthened for teams to get comfortable with the adjustments.

O’Donnell, who also serves as NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, assured, “We’ve had an extensive testing plan with the industry over the last 19 months. We feel confident and we wouldn’t implement this if we didn’t feel confident as an industry to implement it at Kentucky.”

A rumor about the package surfaced last week, fueled by Lee Spencer’s story on Motorsports.com. The story states the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team used the changes at the Darlington Raceway test.

Although this is currently a one-race deal, O’Donnell expressed interest in using the rule package at other tracks—if it is successful.

“We certainly want to see more lead changes on the race track. We’ll evaluate not only that but a number of different factors coming out of Kentucky and seeing what we can learn and potentially implement down the road.”

He also added that the package is not final or “an abandonment of any rules package.”

Teams and drivers are very open to the idea, yet the executive vice president said the sanctioning body is still looking into making improvements as needed.

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Kentucky performance shows Keselowski’s championship mindset

The Penske power was strong at Kentucky Speedway, but only one could win.

Polesitter Brad Keselowski presented a dominant performance, knocking the rest of the field on their butts. There were only two cars that could rival his speed, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch. Busch’s car was fast late, but he radioed in that he had nothing once the No. 2 passed him for the final time. He took his runner-up finish with a grain of salt.

Logano was probably the biggest threat to Keselowski, the two swapping the lead multiple times throughout the event. However, it was late in the race when his engine went sour. He salvaged a ninth-place finish, nowhere near as sweet as that possible win. Team Penske now has four wins this season, each driver holding two.

Not only is the organization ready for The Chase, but so is Keselowski. In victory lane, he assured, “I really want another championship,” and no one is doubting him. Once this 2012 Sprint Cup titleholder sets his eyes on something, he doesn’t stop until it’s in his possession. If there’s anything to take away from Saturday night’s race, it’s that Keselowski is ready for another championship, and the other competitors better be on the lookout.

Aside from that, the race was a typically run on a 1.5-mile track. The racing was alright. The attendance was horrible. A few tire issues occurred, claiming Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson early on. The finishing order had a few surprises, such as Ryan Newman in third, Tony Stewart in eleventh, Paul Menard in fifteenth, and Michael Annett in eighteenth.

It was a solid night for Keselowski, and Team Penske was shaping up for a fantastic finish before engine problems plagued the No. 22. However, the No. 2 is stout, and that number may be No. 1 once The Chase comes to a close.

Point Standings after the Quaker State 400 (asterisk denotes number of wins)

1. Jeff Gordon (–)*
2. Jimmie Johnson (-24)***
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-24)**
4. Brad Keselowski (-58)**
5. Matt Kenseth (-63)
6. Carl Edwards (-82)**
7. Joey Logano (-99)**
8. Ryan Newman (-104)
9. Kevin Harvick (-109)**
10. Kyle Busch (-110)*
11. Paul Menard (-130)
12. Kyle Larson (-144)
12. Greg Biffle (-144)
14. Clint Bowyer (-145)
15. Kasey Kahne (-153)
16. Tony Stewart (-158)

Keselowski’s fumble turns into Harvick’s recovery in Kentucky

On the bumpiest track, Kevin Harvick glided to victory lane in The Bluegrass State.

The rough and tumble aura of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race was no match for the No. 5 JR Motorsports machine, which captured the lead after a late-race restart. He fought with fellow Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch for ages before he finally slipped past. After the restart with five to go, it was all Harvick.

It was all Brad Keselowski previously; the polesitter was dominating before he sped on pit road. Then, it was a game of Catch Up, finishing second. Busch came in third, and recent NNS winner Paul Menard claimed fourth. Busch was going for The Sweep after winning the previous night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, but those hopes were dashed.

The real results started with fifth, when Ryan Blaney finished. Brendan Gaughan, Ty Dillon, Brian Scott, Cupster Kyle Larson, and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top ten. A lot of Nationwide regulars had good nights.

Others? Not so much. Ryan Sieg was called to the NASCAR hauler after dumping Jeremy Clements after the caution came out. Whoops. Then, Regan Smith tried to move in front of Ryan Reed and clipped his front bumper. Reed caught the flack for that one. More sauciness came late with Chase Elliott and Trevor Bayne. They bumped a few times, and Bayne hit the wall. The No. 6’s radio frequency was nowhere near pleasant, but no retaliation came. They talked it out after the race.

Harvick’s win at Kentucky Speedway makes the fifth victory of 2014 for JRM. The team is on a roll, as are the Cup regulars, who cannot be stopped this season in NNS.

Because of the Reed incident, Smith lost the points lead to Sadler, who hold a four-point crack over Elliott.

Point Standings after the John R. Elliott Hero Campaign 300

1. Elliott Sadler (–)
2. Chase Elliott (-4)
3. Regan Smith (-8)
4. Ty Dillon (-29)
5. Brian Scott (-47)
6. Trevor Bayne (-59)
7. Brendan Gaughan (-93)
8. James Buescher (-123)
9. Chris Buescher (-127)
10. Landon Cassill (-142)

Kentucky crowns Blaney king with first win

After leading 96 laps and owning Saturday night, Ryan Blaney won the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Kentucky Speedway. The nineteen-year-old placed the No. 22 Penske Ford in Victory Lane, marking his first win in NNS.

“I’m kind of speechless right now . . .” the driver stated in his post-race interview, the win not settled in.

Blaney, who’s currently competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Brad Keselowski Racing, never fell out of the top six all night. He is now the fifth first-time winner in the second-tier series, helping the No. 22 car garner its tenth win of 2013.

His Penske teammate, Sam Hornish Jr., finished fourth. The points lead belonged to him coming into Kentucky with a seventeen-point cushion. Austin Dillon, his closest rival for the championship, brought his car home second. He only gained two points on Hornish, creeping a bit closer.

Other notable stories are abundant, due to the lack of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars in the field: Jeb Burton locked a top ten in his first NNS race . . . Johanna Long, a drive who usually gets stuck in the mid-twenties, finished sixteenth . . . Trevor Bayne earned the fifteenth spot after his motorcoach caught fire on the way to the track . . . Travis Pastrana started in the top ten yet spun twice, proving that his bad luck still lingers . . . Kyle Larson encountered brake issues and finished outside the top thirty.

Points after Kentucky

1. Sam Hornish Jr. (–)
2. Austin Dillon (-15)
3. Regan Smith (-45)
4. Elliott Sadler (-54)
5. Brian Vickers (-60)
6. Justin Allgaier (-75)
7. Brian Scott (-79)
8. Trevor Bayne (-94)
9. Kyle Larson (-140)
10. Parker Kligerman (-179)

Kenseth gets Lucky in Kentucky

Mother Nature’s sadistic ways actually worked in NASCAR’s favor.

Yes, that sounds weird, but it’s true; after shoving Kentucky Speedway out of the darkness of Saturday night into the bright daylight of Sunday afternoon, the race had a whole new complexion. We saw the face of the track, bumps and all, and it was still as ravishing and stunning as expected.

Mrs. Nature kept her distance Sunday, and we went racing. Oh, we went racing.

Things began to unravel after the competition caution on lap 30. Denny Hamlin’s right front went flat, and he scraped the wall. However, no caution was called. He waited until it was clear to go down the access road, the shortcut to the pits.

Suddenly, the tire flies off and skids across the grass and onto the track…right in front of a leading Dale Earnhardt Jr. The debris smacked his front bumper, flew off, hit Jimmie Johnson’s front bumper, and then went into the marbles.

The caution finally flew, and everyone was dumbfounded. Crazy.

The next caution involved two drivers in the top ten in points, Greg Biffle and Brad Keselowski. Kurt Busch drove on the apron and was pulled back onto the track, clipping Keselowski in the process. The no. 2 spun into the grass and came on track. Biffle nailed his back-end, as did other cars, and the no. 16 caught on fire. That’s never good.

Some point during the race, Hamlin’s slammed into the frontstretch, a section aided by SAFER barriers. It was soon reported that medics were in the garage area for him and possible care. With everyone thinking about his widely public back injuries, people frantically waited for him to be released from the infield care center. Thankfully, he had just hit his knee on the steering wheel and suffered from a slight headache. Things soon settled down.

As many assumed before the race even started, Jimmie Johnson was the class of the field. He had everyone beat. It was going to be his fourth win when another caution came out, this time for Brian Vickers hitting the wall.

When the chaos on pit road was all said and done, Johnson came out second with two tires, behind Matt Kenseth. He took only fuel. Everyone was curious as to what would prevail: clean air or fresh tires.

Kenseth pounced, gaining a big lead as the green flew. Johnson fell back, and, soon, the no. 48 was spinning around. He kept it off the wall, but smoke was coming out of his ears. Ranting, he said that Kenseth didn’t do the restart correctly and that there should be a penalty.

Let us all flashback to Dover. Remember that big restart mess? Johnson must’ve forgotten about that slip-up. He was 25th for the final restart after that.

In what you may call a comeback, Matt Kenseth won his fourth race of the season after a slight slump in his performance. He is in championship form and constantly mentioned when people wonder who can beat Johnson for the title this year. This move to Joe Gibbs Racing has created a new man.

Speaking of Johnson, he rallied for a ninth-place finish, and he still wasn’t pleased. He only gave one radio interview and left the track. It’s completely understandable why he would be short with the media; he had the race won, and it slipped away. Many fans were happy to see the dominator fall, but it’s actually sad to see. But, it’s apparent that the restart rule needs to be kicked to the curb. Cut out the restart box and let the flagman start the race. It’s causing so much trouble that it needs to be looked at and revised.

Finally, Hamlin needs to get out of the car for the rest of this season. That hit was a reminder at how delicate his back issues are, and he has to take it seriously. I understand that there are sponsorship obligations, but there is no way to beat around it. His daughter needs a father, his girlfriend needs a man. Racing is too dangerous for him and his condition. Get the surgery and heal properly.

Though we had to wait, Kentucky showed us it how it gets during the day, and it was an active glance. Mother Nature got us again, but maybe it was a good thing to wait.

Point Standings after Kentucky

1. Jimmie Johnson (–)
2. Carl Edwards (-38)
3. Clint Bowyer (-41)
4. Kevin Harvick (-66)
5. Matt Kenseth (-82)
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-98)
7. Kyle Busch (-110)
8. Martin Truex Jr. (-120)
9. Greg Biffle (-121)
10. Joey Logano (-131)
11. Kasey Kahne (-132)
12. Jeff Gordon (-133)