SPARTA, KY – If there’s any track where qualifying means more than anywhere else, it’s the Kentucky Speedway. Six of the seven Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races on the 1.5-mile track have been won by a driver with a top 10 starting position. That’s 85.7-percent of the time. To further that point, four of the seven winners came from the front row including three of the last four years.
The furthest a winner came from?
So, it was extra important to make it out of the first round of qualifying on Friday to set the field for Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). With that being said, the top two finishers last weekend are the happiest of all.
Erik Jones led Martin Truex Jr. across the finish line in last Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at the Daytona International Speedway. This weekend, they’ll start where they left off, this time inverted.
Truex, earned his 19th career Cup Series pole on Friday, tying him with Joey Logano and Speedy Thompson for 43rd all-time en route to the top starting spot for Saturday night’s race. Truex, circled the 1.5-mile track with an average speed of 188.890 mph in his No. 78 Toyota.
Joining Truex on the front row is Jones who qualified with a speed of 188.739 mph in his No. 20 Toyota. Jones, was fastest in final practice and finished sixth in last year’s race. He looks like a legit contender while Truex led 152 laps in his win a year ago too.
Row 2 is Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski. Harvick, circled the track with a speed of 188.547 mph in his No. 4 Ford and is looking for his first top five finish here. Keselowski, a three-time Kentucky winner, turned a lap of 188.390 mph in his No. 2 Ford.
Two-time Kentucky winner Kyle Busch (188.206 mph) rounded out the top five in his No. 18 Toyota. That makes six of the seven Kentucky winners coming from a top five starting spot.
A few drivers didn’t even make a qualifying lap, two of which couldn’t get past inspection. Denny Hamlin failed inspection multiple times and will start 36th as a result. While he had troubles getting through, so did a lot of other drivers. With 20 minutes before qualifying as scheduled to begin, at least 10 cars were still in the inspection line due to failing their first time through. Where teams were in violation was reportedly in the wheel base areas.
Quaker State 400 Starting Lineup
Row 1: Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones
Row 2: Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski
Row 3: Kyle Busch, Paul Menard
Row 4: Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer
Row 5: Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman
Row 6: Daniel Suarez, Aric Almirola
Row 7: Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Row 8: Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott
Row 9: Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson
Row 10: Joey Logano, Chris Buescher
Row 11: William Byron R, Jamie McMurray
Row 12: Michael McDowell, David Ragan
Row 13: Darrell Wallace Jr. R, AJ Allmendinger
Row 14: Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne
Row 15: Ross Chastain, Ty Dillon
Row 16: Corey LaJoie, JJ Yeley
Row 17: Landon Cassill, BJ McLeod
Row 18: Garrett Smithley, Denny Hamlin
Row 19: Matt DiBendedetto, Timmy Hill
Row 20: Jesse Little