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Raceday: Your guide to Sunday's Quaker State 400

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Friday, Jun. 28, 2013

Update: The Quaker State 400 has been postponed. The race is scheduled to start at noon Sunday and will be broadcast on TNT.

Three things to watch

1 . Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski are the only drivers who have won Sprint Cup Series races at Kentucky and both should be favorites for another win.

2. Martin Truex Jr. is fresh off breaking his 218-race winless streak and heading to a 1.5-mile track where Michael Waltrip Racing has typically been strong.

3 . Don't count out Jimmie Johnson. He's been good just about everywhere and Kentucky is one of the few tracks on which he's never won.

Observations

• Kyle Petty raised a lot of eyebrows this weekend with his comments about Danica Patrick and her being more of a "marketing machine" than race car driver. The bottom line is stats don't lie. Until there comes a point where Patrick is competitive week-in and week-out - forget about challenging for race wins - that is going to be the epitaph of her NASCAR career. Ask yourself this: If GoDaddy.com left the sport tomorrow, would another Cup organization hire her based on performance alone? The answer is clear to all but the most adamant of her fans.

• Winning means almost everything in NASCAR - almost. Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth have a combined five wins in the first 16 races and have led a combined 40 percent of the laps. Together, they have also failed to finish races on five occasions which is the main thing which separates them from the championship-like consistency of points leader and five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

• Jeff Gordon has done just about everything one can do in NASCAR but he still has the ability to reach another milestone this weekend. Gordon has won at every track currently used in the Cup series except one - Kentucky Speedway. He finished 10th in the inaugural race at the track in 2011 and was fifth a year ago.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski

Notes

Patrick calls Kyle Petty's comments "funny": A day after Speed and TNT announcer Kyle Petty raised eyebrows with his comments about Danica Patrick being more of a "marketing machine" than race car driver Patrick called the comments "funny."

"I just think that it's funny how he said that I could qualify, but I can't race because those of you that actually watch what I do would know that I can't qualify for crap. In the race things go much better," Patrick said.

"The most important thing to me is that I can keep my team happy, we're moving in the right direction, that (my sponsor) is happy and that when you walk out of the garage or walk around the track and meet a little girl that wants to grow up to be like you then you're doing something right -- those are the things that feel right."

Two of Patrick's fellow Cup drivers, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick, came to her defense on Friday.

"She's out there running competitively and running strong on several accounts," Earnhardt said. "I think that she has got a good opportunity and a rightful position in the sport to keep competing and she just might surprise even Kyle Petty."

Keselowski nominated for two ESPYs: Brad Keselowski has been nominated for two ESPY awards - in the Best Driver and Best Championship Performance. Keselowski won the 2012 Cup series championship in a down-to-the-wire battle with Jimmie Johnson.

Race facts

Quaker State 400

Where: Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, Ky.

Track type: 1.5-mile, banked, paved quad-oval

Race distance: 267 laps, 400.5 miles

TV: TNT

Radio: Performance Racing Network



Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
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