First Sprint Cup Appearance in Kentucky
Almost halfway between Lousiville, KY, and Cincinnati, OH, you will find the small agricultural town of Sparta. Population - 209. (Except this weekend when the small community swells to over 100,000 as they play host to the NASCAR family and fans.)
For the first time since Kentucky Speedway opened way back in 2000, the top tier NASCAR division is in town for the inaugural Sprint Cup race. The road from an empty field in 1998 to the Quaker State 400 this weekend has been long, tough and filled with more bumps than Daytona's turn four.
Kentucky Speedway ultimately had to Sue NASCAR to get them to consider a Sprint Cup race. In the end it took a new owner group to make that happen and the lawsuit faded faster than Scott Speed's career.
This race is the wild card, the unknown, the equalizer, the place where any advantage is welcome, but in short supply. If there is such a thing as an advantage it might go to guys like Joey Logano who have run in the Nationwide series and turned hundreds of laps on the mile and a half oval.
It's not just the drivers. The crew chiefs and team engineers are scratching their heads to come up with a game plan. Everyone starts from a blank page. Even the defending duo of Chad Knaus/Jimmie Johnson could be as lost as everyone else along pit road.
Experience is everything in this sport and there is very little of it in the garage for this race. Look for the team that can learn fast, adapt to changing conditions, keep up with the race car and survive Saturday night to roll into victory lane as the first Sprint Cup victor at Kentucky.
The Nationwide/Feed the Children 300 starts Friday night at 7:30pm Eastern, on ESPN. The Sprint Cup/Quaker State 400 goes off Saturday night at 7:30pm on TNT.