The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series received a jolt last weekend with Erik Jones' triumph at Daytona.
Now the series turns to Kentucky Speedway for Saturday night's Quaker State 400, where the usual suspects have dominated the 400-mile sprint since the event began in 2011.
If fans are lucky, the battle underneath the bright lights will produce another thrilling finish and continue to shake up a playoff leaderboard featuring four multi-race winners and 10 checkered flags split between Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.
Of course, those dominant forces will have something to say about the event's outcome.
Where: Kentucky Speedway
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live
Quaker State 400
1. Kurt Busch (41)
2. Brad Keselowski (2)
3. Kyle Busch (18)
4. Kevin Harvick (4)
5. Joey Logano (22)
6. Aric Almirola (10)
7. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (17)
8. Erik Jones (20)
9. Ryan Blaney (12)
10. Denny Hamlin (11)
Note: Qualifying takes place Friday
2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Standings
|1. Kyle Busch||749|
|2. Kevin Harvick||692|
|3. Martin Truex Jr.||629|
|4. Clint Bowyer||594|
|5. Joey Logano||618|
|6. Erik Jones||448|
|7. Austin Dillon||347|
|8. Brad Keselowski||596|
|9. Kurt Busch||566|
|10. Kyle Larson||544|
|11. Denny Hamlin||538|
|12. Aric Almirola||503|
|13. Ryan Blaney||496|
|14. Jimmie Johnson||461|
|15. Chase Elliott||444|
|16. Alex Bowman||426|
Drivers to Watch
Maybe the world should have seen this coming from Jones.
The No. 20 Toyota finished seventh at Sonoma and sixth at Chicago, one of the best stretches of his season. Starting 29th didn't seem to matter at Daytona, as he led the only lap that mattered before heading to Victory Lane.
The 22-year-old is just what the sport needed given the recent run of dominance by the usual names, and he rides into contention with a must-see story:
Granted, Jones benefited from a massive wreck that laid claim to 25 cars. But everybody had to know it was coming given the nature of a restrictor plate race and the youngster managed to weave his way out of the chaos.
For Jones, the task now becomes translating the momentum into the next week, then the next. He finished sixth at this event a year ago, so past knowledge of the track and the biggest wave of his career should translate into him sticking around until the end Saturday night.
Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr. nearly spoiled the feel-good story.
The man with three wins and poles to his name already almost pushed Jones out of the way for a win, instead landing in second place at a chaotic event ripe for a driver of his talent to steal victory.
Not that Truex will complain about a runner-up finish. He's sitting in a great position regardless with three consecutive finishes of fourth or better, and he's done the same in five of his last six appearances, including two wins.
Now would be the time to bring up the fact the 38-year-old won this upcoming event a year ago.
"To go back there after what happened (in 2016) and get our first win at Kentucky was awesome," Truex said, according to Jason Hoffman of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It was the kind of win that's a real confidence booster and gave us a lot of momentum for the rest of the year."
Unlike a year ago, when Truex was coming off consecutive 34th-or-worse performances going into Kentucky, he has an all-clear sign after avoiding a wreck that should have taken him down and thrown his momentum into a hole.
Busch wasn't as lucky as the other two names here.
The man who made himself the villain by reacting to booing fans after his win in Chicago couldn't get out of the way at Daytona and wound up finishing 33rd.
He wasn't having as much fun after the race this time around:
Fans will have to decide who to side with on this one:
Love him or hate him, it's hard to dismiss Busch's five wins this year, including 12 top-five appearances. He didn't secure his first checkered flag of the season until early April at Texas, but he's been unstoppable since, minus a few wreck outliers.
Coming out of a race where he feels another driver did him dirty, fans can expect the 33-year-old to race more aggressive than usual. And knowing how this year has been with feuds already, a little drama seems likely to be part of the equation.
In other words, Busch figures to keep supplying the sport with just what it needs.