The NASCAR Sprint Cup series lands in Kentucky this week for its fourth trip overall to the 1.5 mile oval. After last week, where the world’s greatest drivers had to turn left AND right in Sonoma, a lot of teams are looking forward to returning to the series’ ‘bread and butter’ type of track. One of those teams is Joe Gibbs Racing. In the last few years the stable of Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch have piled up the wins. 2014 has proven more difficult for the Gibbs drivers but Kentucky offers them a chance to turn the season around in a big way. I am so confident in that happening that I am picking one of them to win this weekend…
RACE WINNER— Kyle Busch
The feisty driver of the #18 Toyota sports one win, two top fives and three top-10s in all three previously held Kentucky races. Busch won the truck race Thursday night and just ‘loves’ this track. He is hungry (pun intended with his odd comments about his sponsor, M&Ms) for a win. Look for him to dominate and bring home the win.
DARKHORSE— A.J. Allmendinger
The usual faces (Johnson, Keselowski, Harvick) will always be up front looking for a win. One face that not many would be familiar with if he were to win would be the ‘Dinger. A.J. is seemingly on the verge of a major breakthrough and has consistently run upfront in 2014. He does sport one top 10 at Kentucky in 2012. Look for A.J. to qualify well; the question is…can he keep it up front? I think he will.
PIT CREW OF THE RACE— #4 STEWART-HAAS RACING
There has not been a pit crew more publicized and criticized this year than the #4 of Kevin Harvick. Call it a ‘gut feeling’ but I think after they dropped the ball again in Sonoma, this crew is ready for redemption. If Harvick qualifies well, look for this crew to use a great pit selection and to be extra motivated and rip of some stellar stops to help get their driver back to victory lane.
ONE BOLD PREDICTION— DANICA PATRICK WILL FINISH IN THE TOP TEN
I have no reasoning behind this prediction other than I probably drank the ‘Kool-Aid’ from her Kansas run more than most people. But in all seriousness, Danica made a believer out of me with her great run at Kansas earlier this year. She qualified up front and ran there all night long. Kentucky is similar to Kansas in configuration and race length and if she can get comfortable again, a top ten is not out of reach.