For the 2nd year in a row, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be making a stop in the Bluegrass state for this weekend’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. In last year’s inaugural Quaker State 400, Kyle Busch piloted his #18 M&M’s Toyota to victory lane in front of a near sold out crowd. It has been a busy week in NASCAR and I am going to recap this week’s events and  preview this weekend’s race.On Tuesday, it was announced that Matt Kenseth will be leaving Roush-Fenway Racing at the end of the 2012 season. The seat will be filled by 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Kenseth, who is currently leading the Sprint Cup Series points standings tells media that he has another ride secured for the 2013 season, but is unable to make an announcement at this time. Silly Season has begun!

Owensboro’s Michael Waltrip will be making a return to the track for this weekend’s race. He will be piloting the #55 Aaron’s Toyota. The Aaron’s team will be commemorating the UK Wildcats championship season with a special paint scheme dawning the 2012 National Championship logo. This paint scheme is sure to be a hit with Waltrip and UK fans alike.
Teams are bringing a variety of cars to the racetrack. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will be bringing chassis #88-668. This car was used at both events at Charlotte last month. Michael Waltrip will be bringing chassis #722. Brian Vickers finished 5th at Bristol in the car and Mark Martin drove the car to a 21st place finish in the Sprint All-Star Race.
During last year’s Quaker State 400, track position proved to be a vital factor in the outcome of the race. Cars that proved to be quick upfront were unable to make passes once the cars got in traffic. Two-tire pit stops were also popular in last year’s race. With another year of age on the 1.5 mile oval, teams will learn what strategy will work the best during Friday’s practice sessions.
Carl Edwards will be driving chassis # RK-811 this weekend. This car finished 8th at Texas and 9th at Charlotte. Edwards will be bringing a one-race sponsor with him this weekend but one that is familiar with fan s. Edwards will be piloting the #99 UPS Ford in Saturday night’s race. My pick for this weekend is Carl Edwards and the UPS team.
If you are traveling east for this weekend’s event, be sure to check out the Kentucky State Police’s traffic plan.

Tune into WBKR’s coverage of the Quaker State 400 beginning at 5:30 Saturday night on WBKR and!
- Blake Smith