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Get a Grip: Kentucky Edition

The character of a race track often influences the racing. A speedway many drivers would deem to have the most character on the schedule is Kentucky Speedway.

For the fifth consecutive season, the facility hosted a tripleheader weekend. Once again, the bumps played a factor in each race. The competitors who navigated them successfully contributed to this week’s best moments while those who struggled are featured in the worst moments.

Four Tires

  • Team Penske’s No. 22 Discount Tire Ford is a threat in every NASCAR XFINITY Series race. The organization’s sole focus in the series is on this car, and this leads to many impressive performances. Brad @Keselowski returned to Victory Lane on Friday after leading 72 laps. This was his first win in the second-tier series this year in four starts after having scored 12 victories in the last two seasons. Expect this to get the ball rolling for the 2010 series champion as he eyes additional trips to the winners circle.
  • @KyleBusch is back and better than ever. For the second time in three weeks, he visited Victory Lane in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This followed another stellar performance from the No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota team as they had the fastest car in the field and led a race-high 163 laps. As the 30-year old continues climbing towards the top-30 in the drivers standings, victories are the easiest way to gain the necessary points to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Two Tires

  • Two-time defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion @Matt_Crafton excels at 1.5-mile speedways. He proved this again in the UNOH 225 as he scored his fourth victory in 2015. What do the wins have in common? They have all come at mile-and-a-half facilities. This success has contributed to his championship run and has allowed the No. 88 Menards Toyota team to gain a 20-point advantage in the standings after ten events this year.
  • Joe Gibbs Racing’s NASCAR XFINITY Series program is among the most successful in the series. Their secret? A youthful presence. @Erik_Jones has emerged as a star for the team in 2015 and @dnlsuarez (Daniel Suarez) has become a household name. Both continued their excellent seasons in the Kentucky 300 as they finished inside the top-five with Jones runner-up and Suarez fourth. As the second half of the year rolls on, look for both to remain up front and contend for victories.

No Tires

  • Kentucky’s character is often difficult to figure out. This was the case for the top-three in the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings on Friday night. Points leader @Chris_Buescher finished 11th, second-place in the standings @ChaseElliott came home in 13th, and @TyDillon ended up 15th. Their struggles highlighted the speedway’s tough nature. While they would like to forget their performances, it is important they reflect. This will allow them to return in September better equipped to tackle the track when the championship run is well underway.
  • After rain canceled qualifying, @KyleLarsonRacin began the Quaker State 400 from the pole position after being fastest in opening practice. He had run solidly for most of the event before late-race contact caused significant damage to the No. 42 Target Chevrolet. This forced the team down pit road multiple times and led to a 35th-place finish. This result came disappointingly after the 22-year old showed great speed under the new rules package. He will look to bounce back and continue searching for speed and a win with the Chase for the Sprint Cup approaching.

Short-track racing returns to the spotlight at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. This track often produces some of the most exciting racing on the schedule and should again as many hungry drivers fill the garage looking for victory.

Jason Schultz is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL JASON AT jason.schultz@popularspeed.com

By Jason Schultz

Jason Schultz aspires to enter the public relations field of NASCAR. Schultz, 19, attends UNC Charlotte and is a communication studies major with a focus in public relations. In addition to contributing to POPULAR SPEED, Schultz produces podcasts for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Dirty Mo Radio. He also completed a semester as a social media intern at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each year, he volunteers as the social media correspondent for Autism Delaware's Drive for Autism golf tournament featuring NASCAR personalities and the AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover.

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