breaking news

Clark County resident, Xenia teacher sentenced in Logan County

5 things to watch in Saturday’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway

Sixteen playoff positions. Seven positions clinched. Eight races remaining.

Desperation might not be setting in just yet, but Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers are starting to feel the pressure. Race winners are locked in to the playoffs. Seven drivers are safe heading into the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday. Will an eighth driver join them following a visit to victory lane on Kentucky Speedway’s 1.5-mile, tri-oval track?

Here are five things to watch at the Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart:

1. Win and in: Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones, Austin Dillon and defending Quaker State 400 champ Martin Truex Jr. have victories this season. A good bet to join them is Brad Keselowski.

»RELATED: Turn 3 separates the best drivers

The driver of the No. 2 Tire Discount Ford for Team Penske is winless, but has traditionally done well at Kentucky. If history repeats Keselowski will celebrate his fourth Quaker State 400 win Saturday. He’s won the race in 2012, 2014 and 2016. He’ll be looking to erase bad memories from last year when he crashed after 89 laps of the scheduled 267 laps, giving him his worst finish (39th) in seven starts.

Toss out his 33rd-place effort in 2013 and Keselowski has finished inside the top 10 in five of seven races at Kentucky. He has three Xfinity Series victories at Kentucky, too.

2. Can Truex repeat?: Last season Martin Truex Jr. had seven victories on 1.5-mile tracks. He has none this season.

Truex, who has three Cup wins and sits third in the points standings, has been consistent at Kentucky. His average starting position is 11.1 and his average finish is 11.4. He started on the front row in 2017 and led 152 of 274 laps, lapping all but eight cars by the finish.

»RELATED: Truex dominates at Quaker State 400

Truex Jr., who drives the No. 78 Toyota for Furniture Row Racing, enters Kentucky as one of the hottest drivers. He’s finished first, fourth and second in his last three Cup races. Over the past eight races he’s finished fourth or better seven times.

3. Leaders of the pack: Only three drivers have completed every lap of the Quaker State 400. That’s quite the accomplishment considering the old racing surface’s bumps that drivers with pounding headaches and even nose bleeds, and now the treacherous Turn 3 that drivers say is like racing on ice.

Two of those drivers have victories – Truex and Busch. Harvick is searching for his first Quaker State 400 win. He’s tied with Busch for most wins this season (5), so he’s a lock for the postseason. Now it’s all about winning.

Harvick has five top-10 finishes at Kentucky. His best finish is seventh in 2014 and has finished eighth, ninth and ninth the past three seasons. In 2016, Harvick won the pole and led a race-high 128 laps for dropping to ninth.

That trio are also 1-2-3 in the standings. Busch leads the Cup Series with 749 points, 57 ahead of Harvick and 120 in front of Truex.

4. It’s not where you start, or is it?: Want to win at Kentucky? Then you better start inside the top 10. Four of the seven winners have come from the front row. Six winners have started ninth or better. The exception is Matt Kenseth in 2013. Kenseth started 16th before holding off Jamie McMurray, who started 23rd.

Keselowski’s victory in 2014 is the only time the Quaker State 400 has been won from the pole.

While the winner has usually started up front, the runner-up has often driven through the field to challenge for the victory. A list of runner-ups who have started mid-pack or worse include David Reutimann in 2013 (started 17th), Kasey Kahne in 2012 (19th), McMurray in 2013 (23rd), Kyle Busch in 2014 (18th) and Kyle Larson in 2017 (42nd).

5. Chevy chase: Chevrolet is still winless at Kentucky Speedway, the only active track on the schedule where it has not visited victory lane. The manufacturer hasn’t fared much better this season with Austin Dillon’s Daytona 500 victory the only win this season. Chevy does have four runner-up finishes, though.

That doesn’t bode well for Chevy drivers like Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman among others. Those four are the lone Chevy drivers in the top 15 in drivers points, too.

Toyota leads in Cup wins this season (9) and wins at Kentucky (4). Ford (8) has two wins at Kentucky and Dodge has one.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

High School Football State Poll: Which area teams are ranked?
High School Football State Poll: Which area teams are ranked?

How a state panel of sports writers and broadcasters rates Ohio high school football teams in the weekly Associated Press poll of 2018. Teams are ranked by OHSAA divisions, with won-lost record and total points (first-place votes in parentheses): 1. Cin. Colerain (9) 5-0 217 2. Mentor (8) 5-0 214 3. Pickerington Central (6) 5-0 208 4. Reynoldsburg...
Ohio State QB Haskins wins Big Ten Player of the Week award for second time in four weeks
Ohio State QB Haskins wins Big Ten Player of the Week award for second time in four weeks

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins won the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award Monday for the second time in four weeks. Haskins shared the award with Penn State running back Miles Sanders. The No. 4 Buckeyes and No. 9 Nittany Lions play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in State College, Pa. In a 49-6 victory against Tulane, Haskins completed...
Report: Bengals lose defensive lineman to season-ending injury
Report: Bengals lose defensive lineman to season-ending injury

Bengals defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday’s loss to Carolina, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Rapoport said Glasgow, a second-year player from the University of Michigan, suffered a torn ACL. Glasgow, a key reserve, played in all three games this season and appeared in all 16 games as...
Ohio State football: Nick Bosa will miss Penn State game; 2 other starters return
Ohio State football: Nick Bosa will miss Penn State game; 2 other starters return

Ohio State is getting two starters back this week for a top 10 showdown with Penn State, but Nick Bosa is not one of them.  OSU coach Urban Meyer said Monday the All-American defensive end will be out “a few more weeks” after having surgery last week to repair a core muscle.  On the bright side, defensive tackle Robert Landers...
Scoochie Smith to play for Cavs’ G League team
Scoochie Smith to play for Cavs’ G League team

Former Dayton Flyers point guard Scoochie Smith was not on the training camp roster released by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, but Smith said he will play for the the Cavaliers’ G League team, the Canton Charge, this season. Smith signed with the Cavaliers earlier this month but was waived days later. According to a report by Keith Smith...
More Stories