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NASCAR

Kasey Kahne is not on the Radar but he will win at Kentucky Speedway

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Last week NASCAR was at a road course, this week they are at one of the typical 1.5 mile staples of the series. It will be only the third time at Kentucky Speedway so there are many unknowns. The Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts will be the first race in the “Race to the Chase” for the Sprint Cup.

The Kentucky Speedway is a 1.5 mile D shaped oval with 14 degrees of banking in the turns and eight degrees of banking in the straightaways.  Although all the 1.5 mile speedways look the same they are not. There are subtle differences. This track is not as flat as Chicago. Regardless, 1.5 mile speedways are where it’s at in NASCAR.  If your driver can’t do well at them there is a problem.

The Kentucky speedway is different than all the other 1.5 mile speedways. We typically use driver ratings and/or average finishing position to key into what driver is good at a track. Unfortunately there has only been two NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Kentucky. Those stats, though interesting, are not statistically meaningful. For instance, Kyle Busch’s dominating performance in the first race still leads the driver ratings; similarly Brad Keselowski’s race winning performance in the second race also dominates.

So how can we pick a driver to win here at Kentucky? Well the only way to make a good pick is to see who seems to have it down on the 1.5 mile tracks this season. There are two drivers that have any amount of consistency.  Kevin Harvick with his finishes of 9, 13, 13, 12, 1 and 2. Did I forget to say that the 2 mile D shaped ovals are very similar so we include them as well.

As good as Kevin’s numbers are there is a driver who is quietly finishing better. Kasey Kahne’s numbers at those same tracks are impressive, 2, 9, 11, 2, 2, and 3. Kasey Kahne will finally put it together to win at Kentucky Speedway.

Kahne said, “I wasn’t a huge fan of that track at first because it’s so rough, wide and just kind of different as far as driving around the track. We tested there so much over the years before it was on the schedule, so I kind of grew not to like it, but I actually liked racing there in 2012 (its second year on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule). It’s still rough, but it’s a tough track, tough to get a hold of. There are lots of racing lines there. Some don’t work and look like they should and other ones work so you really have to pay attention to that. But I grew to kind of like it, and I’d like to run great there again this year and be upfront and contend for the win.

If you cannot get to the Kentucky Speedway, it will be on TNT Saturday June 29th at 6:30 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for RantSports.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary, or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google.

Top 12 Driver Rating at Kentucky
Kyle Busch…………………………. 133.0
Brad Keselowski………………….. 128.2
Jimmie Johnson………………….. 119.5
Denny Hamlin……………………… 105.0
Matt Kenseth………………………… 98.2
Kasey Kahne………………………… 96.7
Carl Edwards……………………….. 94.3
Kurt Busch…………………………… 92.6
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 89.8
Martin Truex Jr…………………….. 88.8
Dale Earnhardt Jr………………….. 88.3
Kevin Harvick……………………….. 88.2
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2012 races (two total) among active drivers at Kentucky Speedway.