Kentucky Speedway: 5 Hot Picks to Win the Quaker State 400

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IJune 29, 2012

Kentucky Speedway: 5 Hot Picks to Win the Quaker State 400

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    The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads for the second round of racing on the rough 1.5-mile track that many drivers enjoy racing on, but some rule changes and lack of notes may change the game for Chase contenders.

    With the 2011 Quaker State 400 being the first Cup race on this track that opened in 2000, teams don't have a significant log of notes to fall back on for car setups.

    NASCAR has raised the side skirts on the cars once again in hopes of increasing the side-by-side racing.

    The rules on the use of the rear sway bars in the suspension have also changed which may be problematic for some top teams.

    All three of NASCAR's top series are racing at Kentucky Speedway. It just may be that the drivers who have the most experience on the bumpy track will be the ones who have an advantage.

    The drivers who can hit the track with a good setup and start with decent track position will be in the best position to go to the front on a track that has grip, but where passing can be a little tough.

    Once again, this slideshow will highlight the drivers who just may have the best chance of capturing a win at the Quaker State 400.

Brad Keselowski

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    Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Dodge for Penske Racing, has six career Cup wins. Two of those wins have come on intermediate tracks, but his record in other series at Kentucky is impressive.

    Keselowski has 11 starts at Kentucky with the one Cup race, seven Nationwide and three NCWTS which yielded two wins, four top-five and five top-10 finishes. He finished seventh in the 2011 Quaker State 400.

    This driver has two wins this season and ranks 10th in the standings.

Carl Edwards

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    Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford, is the worst performer of the three Roush Fenway Racing drivers this season. He is winless, with eight top-10 finishes and at 11th in the point standings.

    Edwards finished fifth at the inaugural Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. He also has considerable experience at this track with the Nationwide series.

    Of the 19 career Cup wins that Edwards has, 17 are on intermediate tracks. With 10 races until the Chase, this driver knows without wins, he could fail to make the Chase.

    Edwards will be driving a car with the UPS paint scheme for the one and only time this season.

Jimmie Johnson

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    Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 Lowe's team appear to be serious contenders not only for the Chase, but for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

    He is ranked fourth in the standings, 25 markers out of the lead.

    Johnson has two wins this season with nine top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. Of the 57 career Cup wins he has, 40 have come on intermediate tracks.

    This driver finished third in the 2011 race at Kentucky Speedway. If they get the setup right for this track that can prove tricky, look for Johnson leading laps including the last one.

Tony Stewart

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    Tony Stewart, owner/driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, is a three-time Cup champion who is on a roll with three top-three finishes in the last three races.

    Stewart is fifth in the point standings with two wins and seven top-five finishes this season.

    The Kentucky track is very bumpy, but much like Fontana and Las Vegas in other ways. This driver won at both tracks earlier this year.

    The rough surface just may play to Stewart's driving style though he finished 12th at this Cup race last year.

    Stewart has another factor that is motivating him to win. It is one of two tracks where he has yet to win with the other being Darlington.

Kyle Busch

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    Kyle Busch drives the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. He is the defending winner of the inaugural Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.

    Busch has been plagued by a series of engine failures and other issues which have relegated him to 12th in the point standings. He does have one win, five top-five and seven top-10 finishes this season.

    It is obvious that the No. 18 team knows how to set up the car for this rough track. Busch also has experience at Kentucky Speedway with the Nationwide and NCWTS races.

    This driver needs to get back in winning mode to secure his place in the Chase. It would be no surprise to see Busch back up his 2011 Quaker State 400 win.

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