By Austin Johnson
Across Kentucky digital signs over the Interstates read, “Slow down, Leave the racing to the pros.” The reason? It’s NASCAR weekend in the Bluegrass.
NASCAR fans headed to Sparta, Kentucky for the Quaker Sate 400 on Saturday, July 14. As fans gathered to watch driver introductions there was an energy in the air that can only come from knowing you are about to watch cars with more than 700 horse power battle for position. This energy turned to confusion when Kyle Larson’s name was announced and he did not appear. As fans looked around for the driver of the number 42 Chevy he could be seen running across the grass but the drivers introductions continued with out him. Missing driver introductions is almost unheard of in the Monster Energy series and doing so will send you straight to the back of the pack.
Jimmy Houston, pro angler and TV host, had the honor to give the legendary command, “Racers start your engines.” The cars roared to life and were escorted around the track by the pace car, a Toyota Camry manufactured in Georgetown, Kentucky.
The race started and ended with Martin Truex Jr in the lead. In the first stage the “Big Three” took the top three spots. Truex grabbed the playoff point and was followed by Harvick and Kyle Busch. After being pushed to the back Larson fought back to finish the first stage in eighth.
Stage two started with Joey Logano in the top spot after he stayed on the track during the caution at the end of stage one. He had pitted only 17 laps prior. This lead did not last long, during the restart Bush and Truex passed the number 22 Ford. One lap short of 100 Truex made his move and recaptured his lead spot from Bush. On lap 111 Bowman’s night was ended as his number 88 car hit the wall on turn three due to a a flat right front tire. Truex kept the lead through the yellow and the subsequent restart to the dismay of Blaney and Busch, after Blaney forced them three wide. Truex kept the lead and nabbed his second playoff point of the night.
In the final stage the number 23 had engine issues sending out a yellow flag with 60 to go. Kurt Busch was first off pit road followed by Truex, Kyle Busch, Blaney, Harvick and Keselowski. Truex retook the lead and walked away with 7 playoff points.
After celebrating the win on the track, Truex got lost on the way to Victory Lane. Truex claims that he was directed incorrectly by an official and that his windshield was completely fogged over.
The next race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the New Hampshire 301 on Sunday, July 22 at 2 pm.
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