Kentucky possible gateway to Chase

SPARTA, KY - JUNE 27:  Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 27, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

SPARTA, KY – JUNE 27: Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 27, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

SPARTA, Ky. – The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will host just their fourth race at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night. In the previous three races, the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts has produced three different race winners, as well as three different pole sitters (2011 pole sitter set by rule book for inclement weather) leading the trend that tomorrow’s night event could be an open-gate for any team or driver to race their way into the 2014 Chase.

In a sense, it’s hard to believe that not one team or driver for that matter has stood out and called Kentucky Speedway their own. Before being placed on the NSCS schedule in 2011, the track was the No. 1 facility utilized by teams to test for their intermediate program.

Hendrick Motorsports with drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne are considered pre-race-favorites, considering the amount of success that HMS has achieved over the past month, including five consecutive wins with three different drivers. Last week, their dominance in Victory Lane was stopped by Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, but Hendrick Motorsports still took two of the top-three spots and put all four entries inside the top-seven.

Still, there are plenty in the field that feel that they too can win at the 1.5-mile speedway tomorrow night. Joey Logano is searching for his third win of the season, at a track where he maneuvered three NASCAR Nationwide Series. Kyle Busch is also in a similar boat, with two wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, including last night’s UNOH 225, but how about someone like Clint Bowyer? He nearly won last year’s race and enters the 17th race of the year winless.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back here — we ran second here last race.  More importantly, hungry for a win,” said Bowyer. “This is a fun race track.  It is a challenge to get through those bumps in the corners, but that’s an opportunity.  You have to be able to pounce on opportunities right now in the situation we’re in, but I do believe we’re finally poised for a win.”

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