Bluegrass Shrubbing: Kyle Busch Wins Quaker State 400, Fans Lose at Kentucky
After aggressively pursuing a NASCAR Sprint Cup date for 10 years, Kentucky Speedway's inaugural stock car race was marred in more ways than one.
While the track produced another patented Kyle Busch domination, the race was marred by its inability to allow incoming and outgoing traffic into the track's grounds.
At least 20,000 fans were turned away from the track's gates with various traffic and parking problems, a disturbing story considering the excitement surrounding Kentucky's first Cup race.
On the track, the Quaker State 400 was a true Kyle Busch clinic, as the 25-year-old Las Vegas native led 125 of 267 laps, easily defeating David Reutimann and Jimmie Johnson to the stripe.
"This is cool man," Busch said per AP Sports Writer Will Grave's article. "This is right up there with the best of them."
Saturday's race was Busch's third win of the 2011 season, which puts him in a tie with Kevin Harvickfor the first position once the Chase starts at Chicagoland in September.
Also, Busch's win also marked his 99th victory in NASCAR when taking his Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series records into consideration.
Passing was difficult around the 1.5-mile speedway, with the track surface being rather bumpy for a modern facility. Most drivers opted for the high line to advance positions during the race, which was still a chore for most of the competitors.
The race saw only six caution periods for 32 laps, as the laps clicked by mostly under green flag conditions. That worked to Busch's advantage, allowing him to lap nearly half the field before the halfway point of the 400-miler.
Third-place finisher Jimmie Johnson took note of Busch's convincing performance, having seen the rear spoiler of the No. 18's M&M's Toyota Camry all night long.
"He was strong all night," Johnson said. "Spent a lot of time chasing him (and) watched him inch away from me the longer the run went on."
Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, David Ragan, Matt Kenseth, and Jeff Gordon.
Finishing a somewhat salvaging 11th was Denny Hamlin, one of the countless individuals stuck in the traffic fiasco at Kentucky. That caused him to miss the drivers' meeting, relegating from his 26th starting position to shotgun in the 43-car field.
"It was one of those things," Hamlin said. "You've got a lot of fans that want to watch the first race. You can't do anything about a two-lane road."
In spite of the relatively successful acquisition of a Sprint Cup date, Kentucky Speedway's inaugural event will forever be marred by the traffic controversy, with some fans stranded along the surrounding highway routes for up to three to five hours during early Sunday morning.
Here's a look at the top-10 points standings, including the wild card seeds, with team, manufacturer, and wins in parentheses:
- Kyle Busch (Gibbs/Toyota/3 wins)
- Carl Edwards (Roush-Fenway/Ford/1 win)
- Kevin Harvick (Childress/Chevy/3 wins)
- Kurt Busch (Penske/Dodge/1 win)
- Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick/Chevy/1 win)
- Matt Kenseth (Roush-Fenway/Ford/2 wins)
- Jeff Gordon (Hendrick/Chevy/2 wins)
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick/Chevy)
- Ryan Newman (Stewart-Haas/Chevy)
- Denny Hamlin (Gibbs/Toyota/1 win)
- David Ragan (Roush-Fenway/1 win)
- Tony Stewart (Stewart-Haas/Chevy)
Next Sunday marks the second half of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season as well as TNT's final race of their "Summer Stretch" schedule (Live 12 PM EST).
Adam Alexander, Wally Dallenbach Jr., and Kyle Petty will call the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway from the booth, while Matt Yocum, Marty Snider, Ralph Sheheen, and Chris Neville will cover the action on pit road.
Jimmie Johnson looks to defend his victory from a season ago to nab his second win of 2011, which would prove pivotal for his Chase seeding this fall.
[Associated Press per Yahoo! Sports]