After years of legal wrangling, Kentucky Speedway finally landed on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule in 2011. Even though there are only three Cup races from which to extract data, fantasy owners can look to the other intermediate tracks that have already held races this season.
In terms of the banking around the track, Auto Club Speedway is perhaps the most similar to Kentucky, even though it happens to be a 2.0-mile venue. Kansas Speedway is a 1.5-mile track with slightly more banking and held its first race of the season in mid-May. Texas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway are also 1.5-mile courses that have already been visited.
Practice sessions: Friday, June 27 at 10:30 a.m. EDT, 1 p.m. EDT
Qualifying: Friday, June 27 at 5:40 p.m. EDT
Race: Saturday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m. EDT
Location: Sparta, Ky.
Length: 1.50 miles
Turns 1-4: 14 degrees
Tri-oval: 8-10 degrees
Backstretch: 4 degrees
Denny Hamlin | No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing
Prior to crashing in last year's race, Hamlin had finished 11th and third, respectively, in his first two appearances at Kentucky. In 2012, he also held an average running position third, thanks to leading 58 laps, and was one of three drivers to spend all 267 circuits running in the top 15. Hamlin has finished outside of the top 25 each of the last two weeks, right after recording a pair of consecutive top-fives, which underscores his up-and-down season.
Clint Bowyer | No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing
Over the last three years, Bowyer has improved with each Kentucky start. After crashing in the inaugural 2011 race, he placed 16th in 2012 with an average running position of 12th. Last year, Bowyer finished third, having spent all but two laps running in the top 15. Bowyer comes in with four consecutive finishes of 11th or better this season and an average running position of 13th or better in his last five.
Kasey Kahne | No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports
Kahne has finished 13th or better in all three Kentucky races, highlighted by a runner-up performance in 2012. If not for two separate issues in the pits, Kahne would have likely won that race with what looked like the best race car by the end of the night. After suffering his second DNF of the season at Pocono Raceway, Kahne has quickly bounced back by placing fifth and sixth over the last two weeks.
Martin Truex Jr. | No. 78 World Vision Chevrolet | Furniture Row Racing
In the last two Kentucky races, Truex has finished eighth and seventh, respectively, as one of only seven drivers in the series to own at least two top-10s in the three Cup races held at Kentucky. The move from MWR to Furniture Row hasn't been a smooth for Truex, but he could be turning the corner; two of his three top-10s this season came in the last four weeks.
Greg Biffle | No. 16 3M Ace Bandage Ford | Roush Fenway Racing
Biffle has yet to record a top-20 finish at Kentucky and is among the very worst drivers at the site, in terms of average finish. However, The Biff spent more than 77 percent of the first two races running in the top 15. He never had a chance last year, though, after being collected in an early wreck. Biffle has managed only one top-15 over the last six weeks, since cracking the top 10 in points.
Tony Stewart | No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Chevrolet | Stewart-Haas Racing
After finishing 12th in the inaugural Kentucky race, Stewart has placed 32nd and 20th, respectively, the last two years. He also failed to qualify better than 22nd for those events. Smoke enters with six consecutive finishes of 20th or better this season but just one top-10 finish during that run.