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NASCAR

Preview of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Kentucky Speedway

Last week NASCAR was at the Road Course at Sonoma, CA.  What typically is a hard fought race, similar to a short track, ended up being a relatively calm race.  In fact it was the quickest race ever at Sonoma with hardly any bumping, banging and the spinning that goes with that.  Clint Bowyer won, proving that moving to Michael Waltrip Racing was a great move for him.  This week will be very different, this week NASCAR is at the Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400.

The Kentucky Speedway is yet another of the 1.5 mile D shaped staples of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.  Each one is a little different than the others but generally if you do well on these tracks you do well everywhere.  There is 14 degrees of banking in the turns, 8 degrees on the frontstretch and 4 degrees on the backstretch.  Like all the mile and a half tracks this one can have long green flag runs.  These races can come down to fuel mileage set up by pit strategy.   There has only been one race run at this track which was won by Kyle Busch from the pole.  Qualifying was rained out last year so there is no current qualifying track record.  The race is 267 laps or 400.5 miles.

For all of the races this year, Driver Ratings have been used to choose the driver who is most likely to do really well.  Since there has only been one race at this track, now is a perfect time to see what driver ratings for one race looks like.  Statistically the ratings for one race mean nothing except they can help us understand the ratings.  The top five drivers by driver rating at this track are Kyle Busch 145.6, Jimmie Johnson 119.8, Brad Keselowski 118.6, Kurt Busch 118.5, and Carl Edwards 108.2.  Remember the highest rating you can get is 150, so Kyle’s 145.6 screams “I own this place”.  Well he did for the first race; he got the pole, led 125 laps of 267, and won the race.  That is a taste of what the Driver Ratings mean.   The top 12 driver ratings are noted below for what they are worth.

When Driver Ratings aren’t meaningful we use race winner to help choose who is good.  Again, there has only been one Sprint Cup Race at this track so we can’t even use that figure.  A better way would be to use some combination of figures from this track and perhaps the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series statistics.  Greg Biffle won the first Truck Series race here so put him on the list.  Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch also won Truck races here so they go on the list.  Kevin Harvick won the first Nationwide race here so he also goes on the list.  Joey Logano won three Nationwide races in a row so he goes on the list.  Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards also won Nationwide races but they are already on the list.  Brad Keselowski won the last Nationwide race here and also led the second most laps in the Cup race so he is on the list.

Looking to last year’s race to come up with a top ten list of drivers; those drivers not already on the list who were in the top ten are, Jimmie Johnson (the leader of all drivers on mile and a half tracks), Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth (the Current Points Leader), and Jeff Gordon.  We will leave David Reutimann and Kurt Busch off the list because they are with new teams.

Here is a good list of top ten drivers in order of race wins, weighted by series.  Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon.

During the race, expect discussion to not have much to do about the racing; this track had some serious logistic issues getting the fans into and out of the track.  Expect them to point out the changes that were made in the off season to fix that.

The other main topic of discussion will be that the wild card spots for the Chase will come down to race wins.  We might actually have a chase where every driver has at least one win at the end of the season.

If you can’t get to the track the race will be on TNT at 7:30 PM ET.

If you don’t happen to agree with those picks above please Rant by using the space below.

Brian Berg Jr. is the Lead NASCAR writer for RantSports.com

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.   On Facebook at NASCAR News and Commentary

Top 12 Driver Rating at Kentucky

Kyle Busch…………………………. 145.6
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 119.8
Brad Keselowski………………….. 118.6
Kurt Busch………………………….. 118.5
Carl Edwards………………………. 108.2
David Reutimann………………….. 105.8
Matt Kenseth……………………….. 103.1
Juan Pablo Montoya…………….. 100.7
Tony Stewart…………………………. 97.2
Kasey Kahne………………………… 94.6
David Ragan…………………………. 94.1
Kevin Harvick………………………… 85.8

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2011 races (one total) at Kentucky.