Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sprint Cup Series continues unpredictable races at Kentucky

After one of the most unpredictable races ever at Daytona, the Sprint Cup Series heads into another unpredictable race Saturday night at Kentucky.

Kentucky Speedway has been around for more than a decade, but it has taken almost that long for the track to finally get the biggest NASCAR series to come to town.

The Nationwide Series will run its 11th race at the track Friday night, and five drivers in the Cup field have already won at that track. So, why is this race unpredictable?

Well, two of the winners, David Gilliland and Joey Logano, who has won the last three Nationwide races at Kentucky, haven’t won at the Cup level since Logano won the rain-shortened race at New Hampshire in 2009.

The other three winners who are in the Cup race, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, all won at the track in the old-style car. The current Cup cars will not drive very similar to the cars each of those drivers took to Victory Lane.

Usually when something new comes into the sport, one team tends to dominate for a little while. Hendrick Motorsports dominated when the Car of Tomorrow was introduced in 2007, and Joe Gibbs Racing dominated last year when NASCAR brought back the rear spoiler and did away with the wing.

To add a little more concern that Saturday’s race might not be the most exciting race ever, the winner in nine of the 10 Nationwide races has started inside the top 10. Only Harvick came from outside the top 10 in the first-ever Nationwide race at the track. He started 11th. Plus, Logano has started from the pole in each of his three wins.

With all that said, it is still very possible Saturday night’s race will be fun for both the drivers and fans. Although the track is 1.5 miles long, it is different from several of the other intermediate tracks.

Kentucky Speedway doesn’t have long, sweeping corners. The straightaways are long and the drivers really have to bury the car down into the corner, but they can still race two and three wide through those corners. This track races more like Rockingham than it does Chicagoland or Kansas.

The bigger teams might have a bit more of an advantage than usual this weekend because although the race has many unknowns, the big-time teams are able to limit them through simulation work before the cars ever leave the shop to pull ahead of the competition. Enjoy the race, everybody.

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