One of the newer races on the NASCAR Monster Energy Series schedule is the Quaker State 400, which debuted at Kentucky Speedway back in 2011. The series returns to Sparta, Ky., on Saturday night with Martin Truex looking for his third straight win in the race and will be favored on the NASCAR odds.
2019 Quaker State 400 Odds, Preview & Pick
- When: Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
- Where: Kentucky Speedway
- TV: NBC Sports Network
- Live Stream: NBC Sports Live
Truex Tries For Threepeat
A handful of drivers have dominated in the short history of the Quaker State 400. Kyle Busch won the first race for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2011 and won again in 2015. Brad Keselowski is the only three-time winner, doing so in 2012, 2014 & ’16. Guess he likes even-numbered years. This Saturday night, Martin Truex looks to become the first driver to win the race three straight years.
Last year, the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota started from the pole, won all three stages, and led 174 of the 267 laps en route to repeating. He led 152 in the 2017 win at Kentucky Speedway.
“Martin’s got a really good feel for this track,” crew chief Cole Pearn said. “It definitely plays into his wheelhouse.”
Indeed, Truex tends to thrive at the 1.5-mile tracks. Less than 20 laps into the race, Truex already was lapping slower cars. When the first pit stops began to cycle, Keselowski was penalized on Lap 41 for going too fast on pit road.
Dave Blaney finished second in 2018 and Keselowski rebounded from that pit-road speeding penalty to finish third, the first time Keselowski didn’t win the Quaker State 400 in an even-numbered year. The driver of the No. 2 Ford led 38 laps. There were no accidents until Lap 109 when Alex Bowman’s No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet blew a tire and hit the wall in Turn 4.
This will be the last 1 1/2-mile track before the NASCAR playoffs, and drivers are looking to carry some momentum into their quest for the Cup. All four Quaker State 400 champions have gone on to win a championship (Matt Kenseth is the fourth).
Could Haley Go Back-To-Back?
The Monster Energy Cup Series comes off a visit to Daytona last weekend for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 where young Justin Haley was the shocking winner. He started 34th in the field at led just one lap. It was only the 20-year-old’s third race.
The victory came in Sunday’s rain-shortened event, which was red-flagged with 33 laps to go in the planned 160-lap race due to a lightning storm. A 17-car pileup gave Haley the lead just before the race was suspended, and he had to wait 2 hours and 12 minutes until he was declared the winner. Haley is a long-shot this week.
William Byron finished second, followed by seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and Ty Dillon. Chevrolet drivers took the top four spots. Keselowski has now crashed out of five of his past six Cup races at Daytona. His latest incident occurred in the second stage when his Ford turned right into the wall after Kevin Harvick gave him a strong push from behind.
But Keselowski is among the favorites this week with his history at Kentucky. Keselowski has also won three races at the Kentucky Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and has a couple of runner-up finishes in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Kyle Busch is right there with Truex and Keselowski. Busch has those two wins in this race, won the pole in 2017 and has six top fives in night races there. Hard to see how he’s not in the mix for the win all race long. Brother Kurt Busch has two top-six finishes in the past three Kentucky races.
Which Joey Logano will show up? Logano had a three-race stretch from 2013-15 in which he averaged a top five at Kentucky, but he has struggled to find his footing the last three, with an average finish of 19.0.
Harvick figures to contend Saturday. Harvick finished 16th at Kentucky in 2011 and since has seven straight top-11 finishes there, culminating in last year’s fifth-place run. When Denny Hamlin runs well at Kentucky, he runs really well, with all three of his top 10s being finishes inside the top four. He hasn’t led a lap since 2015, though. Jimmie Johnson has notched five top 10s in eight races at Kentucky with 206 laps led. Kyle Larson owns an average finish of 21.0 at Kentucky, but he has righted the ship there the past two years with two top 10s and a runner-up.
- Number of previous races: 8
- First Cup race: July 9, 2011, won by Kyle Busch
- Last Sprint Cup race: July 14, 2018, won by Martin Truex, Jr
- Won from pole: 3, last time by Martin Truex, Jr. in 2018
- Won from top-5 starting position: 5 times in 8 races (63%)
- Won from top-10 starting position: 7 times (88%)
- Won from 21st or worse starting position: 0 times (0%)
- Worst starting spot for race winner: 16th, by Matt Kenseth in 2013
- Most laps led: 199, by Brad Keselowski in 2014
- Fewest laps led by a race winner: 38, by Matt Kenseth in 2013
- Fastest race: 150.454 mph by Martin Truex, Jr. in 2018
- Fastest qualifying speed: 190.282 mph by Kyle Busch in 2017
- Most lead changes: 20 in 2011
- Closest finish: Brad Keselowski’s .175 second margin over Carl Edwards in 2016
- Most caution flags: 11 in 2015 and 2016
- From 2014-2018 a typical Kentucky race had 12.8 lead changes, 8.2 cautions for 39.4 laps, and an average green-flag run of 24.9 laps
- Victories by manufacturer: Toyota 4, Ford 2, Dodge 1
- Victories by owner: Joe Gibbs 3, Roger Penske 3, Barney Visser 1
Expert Quaker State 400 Pick
We like Harvick for his first win at Kentucky.