Podcast #122 — Harvick wins at Michigan, plus a Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoff Preview

Recap: Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway

  • Kevin Harvick gets the win
    • Harvick passed Joey Logano with 18 to go to take the lead and would hang on to win his second Cup Series race of the season and his second August race in a row at Michigan. 
    • Harvick was asked postrace about his strategy on the final restart with 48 laps to go. 
      • Audio
    • Harvick was able to overcome a flat tire earlier in the race. He talked about that after the race.
      • Audio
    • Finally, Harvick involved his son, Keelin, in the postrace celebration again, letting Keelin ride in the passenger side of the car during his burnouts. I got a chance to ask him about Keelin’s racing future in the press conference. 
      • Audio
  • Denny Hamlin came home second after several driver had to pit for fuel late in the race. He was asked if there was anything he could have done at the end to catch Harvick for the win. 
    • Audio
  • Kyle Larson said he was surprised to finish third. He was asked about his strategy the last run of the race. 
    • Audio
  • Martin Truex Jr. made his 500th start Sunday with a special paint scheme and a tuxedo fire suit. He started with a handicap though, having to go to the back of the field at the start because his car failed prerace tech three times. He talked about that after the race. 
    • Audio

Playoff Bubble

  1. Kyle Larson +71
  2. Erik Jones +70
  3. Ryan Newman +16
  4. Clint Bowyer +6

——————

  1. Daniel Suarez -6
  2. Jimmie Johnson -12
  3. Paul Menard -53
  4. Chris Buescher -73

News Items: 

Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoff Preview

  1. Matt Crafton finished XXX. Clinches the final spot in the playoffs. Crafton was asked how he felt now that he was locked into the playoffs. 
    1. Audio (1:13)
  2. Sheldon Creed finished second in the race. He needed a win to make the playoffs. I got to talk to him about that following the race. 
    1. Audio 
  3. Brett Moffitt is the points leader after the reset and the defending champion after an unexpected win last year. I talked to him about his change in position this season as the playoffs begin. 
    1. Audio
  4. Johnny Sauter had trouble on pit road and finished XX Saturday. He’s qualified for the playoffs after a win XX, but has struggled at many points this season. I talked to him after the race. 
    1. Audio
  5. Ross Chastain was taken out early in the same pit road incident that involved Sauter. Despite not collecting points during the first part of the season, Chastain has qualified for the playoffs with a win and by finishing in the top 20 in points. I asked him after the race if he considers himself an underdog. 
    1. Audio  
  6. Grant Enfinger won the regular season championship, though did it without a win all season. He finished XX at Michigan. After the race, he was asked whether he thought he was a favorite to win the title. 
    1. Audio
  7. Ben Rhodes had a fast truck all day, but contact and a flat tire ended his chances at the win and a playoff berth, as he limped home to a XX place finish. Ben talked about it after the race. 
    1. Audio

Preview: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race from Bristol Motor Speedway

  • Picks
    • James: Jamie McMurray
    • Eric: Kyle Busch

Dark Horse

    • Eric: Matt Dibenedetto
    • James: Danica Patrick
  • Shoutouts if any

Fantasy League Update

Close show 

  • Where can we be found on social media?
  • James @jameskuch on Twitter
  • Eric @TSuperspeedway on Twitter
  • Facebook: Facebook.com/TheSuperSpeedway

 For more of the podcast:

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Harvick goes back to back with second August win at Michigan

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Kevin Harvick celebrates in victory lane after winning the 2019 Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway Aug. 11, 2019. Photo by Ryan Collier/The SuperSpeedway

By Eric Young

BROOKLYN, Mich. — With others falling short on fuel, Kevin Harvick powered through the field Sunday to lead the last 18 laps and win his second August race at Michigan International Speedway. 

Harvick led a total of 22 laps on the day on the way to the win, passing Joey Logano to take the lead late in the race. Logano would have to pit for fuel with just a couple laps to go, winding up 17th. 

Harvick said on the last restart, he was focused on getting to Brad Keselowski first, and figured he could focus on Logano later in the run. 

“I felt like the most important pass was the 2,” Harvick said. “I felt like if he got around those guys before I did, he’d be more difficult to pass. I felt like the 22 fell off a lot as we got into the second half of a run compared to our car. He did a good job of putting himself in the right spot when I was behind him and eventually he kind of guessed wrong and I was able to get underneath him there coming through three and four and side draft and finish the pass.”

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“I needed to get a good restart,” Harvick continued. “It’s kind of short-term everything. You need to have short-term memory when you get done with something and move on, and on the restart it’s just one lap at a time and really one situation at a time to be able to try to put yourself in the best position that you can lap after lap.”

Harvick had a flat tire early in the race, and said he felt it at the right spot as we he was traveling down the backstretch.

“I knew that I needed to slow down and figure out what was going on,” Harvick said. “Obviously the tire was flat and I had a hard time getting slowed down enough to get it to the bottom of the racetrack. My main concern was just not grinding the splitter off. If the splitter was gone, we would have been done.”

The win was Harvick’s 47th career victory and his second victory in 2019. He has now won three races at MIS.

Denny Hamlin was strong all day, only leading six laps but running up front throughout the day. Hamlin finished second to Harvick as he tried to run the 4 car down over the last 20 18 laps. 

“He was pretty fast, but we certainly were a long-run car,” Hamlin said. “Every time the runs went long, we were extremely fast. You saw on the first run how fast we came through the field. Just needed the sun to be out more, honestly, to play in our favor. Once it got to be wide-open there at the very end and the track cooled off, the cars that had that raw speed in qualifying, it played into their hands.”

Hamlin said overall his day went pretty smoothly. 

“I didn’t have much of a challenge,” he said. “We stayed up front most of the day and led some laps and stayed in the top two or three for most of the day. Had a few restarts that were pretty critical that we were able to make some time on, but other than that we had a fast car.”

Kyle Larson was able to overcome an early pit road speeding penalty to come home third, which he said surprised him at the end of the race.

“I crossed the start-finish line, I wasn’t expecting to hear third,” Larson said. 

“We were just trying to pass those people in front of us and save enough fuel and thankfully I was able, I guess really, to be slow enough early in that run to save fuel without really even knowing I was or trying to,” Larson said. “Saved a little bit there at the end to get to the finish. The 19 and the 12 ran out in front of me and I got by them. I think I could have gotten by them regardless. It was a good finish.”

Larson said he was surprised about the speeding penalty. 

“I really was only worried about speeding leaving my stall,” he said. “When they said speeding segment one or whatever, I was surprised by that. I felt like I was very conservative throughout pit road.”

Martin Truex Jr. was also strong all day, leading 43 laps and winning the first stage in his 500th-career start, but fell to fourth at the finish. He said he needed one thing to get a better finish.

“More time,” he said. “Those last few restarts, we restarted far back and we were in the wrong lane every damn time. So just once we got strung out there, we were like 11th or so, just didn’t have enough time to get to the front.”

Truex had to start from the rear after failing pre-race tech multiple times, but was able to battle through the field to get the stage win. 

“It’s always easiest to come through the field that first run, and we certainly did a good job of that and we were able to drive up and take the lead,” Truex said. “Thought we had the best car at that point in the race, probably halfway through, and then we got too far back there on those last couple restarts and everybody has time to work on their cars all day long and it just gets harder and harder to pass, so that last run we were stuck for way too long in the wrong lane and we lost too many spots on the restarts, and we had to get them one at a time. Ran out of time there.”

Michigan’s own Keselowski led the most laps on the day, pacing the field for 66 of the 200 laps. But a flat tire and not enough fuel at the end cost him the win and relegated him to a 19th-place finish. 

“Man, I want this one so bad,” Keselowski said after the race. “We got that flat tire early on and we recovered and got up to third there in the late stages, and then we just ran out of gas. That is just the way it goes sometimes.”

Logano led 52 laps on the day, the second-most, but finished 17th when he had to pit late. 

“I needed more gas,” Logano said. “The Shell car isn’t supposed to run out of gas. The positive is we were way better than we were on Friday and Saturday. The negative is that we almost won the race but ended up finishing 17th. You win some, you lose some. If the caution comes out, we would have been in good shape, but it stayed green, and that’s it. That is the gamble. We took the gamble and it didn’t pay off. Pocono we played it the other way and the caution came out. That is two races, and we played it wrong both times.”

There were 19 lead changes Sunday between eight drivers and six cautions for 24 laps. The time of the race was two hours, 40 minutes and 59 seconds.

Rhodes, Gilliland and Burton on the outside looking in, hoping to win at Michigan to get into playoffs

2018_michigan_ncwts_august

By Eric Young

BROOKLYN, Mich. — With the top eight drivers making the playoffs at the completion of Saturday’s Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Speedway, running fifth, sixth and seventh in points should make drivers feel pretty secure. 

But with the “win and you’re in” system in NASCAR, Ben Rhodes in fifth, Harrison Burton in sixth and Todd Gilliland in seventh are on the outside looking in. The three will miss the 2019 Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoffs unless one of them wins Saturday at MIS. But all three drivers said during media availability Friday that they like their chances. 

“We go to the racetrack every weekend thinking we will (win),” Rhodes said. “I’ve got total faith in our team. We had a really good meeting this week and spent probably more time than ever on this truck getting it ready for this weekend.”

Rhodes said even if the team misses the playoffs, it will remain in a good position. 

“If we weren’t able to get in, we would have the advantage all year long to collect wins off of fuel strategy, pit strategy, for the rest of the races,” Rhodes said. “We’d be at a big advantage, but we really don’t want that. We’d rather be in. We’re going to make the win happen one way or the other. I have nothing to lose tomorrow, so we can play the Kyle Busch strategy. When he comes into our series, he doesn’t have to worry about getting stage points. We’re not worried about any stage points tomorrow. The only thing we’re worried about is the checkered flag. And it’s pretty much a checkers or wreckers situation right now, and that’s the way my crew chief feels about it, my team feels about it. We all feel the same way about it, so we just have to make it happen.”

Rhodes has the most to lose by clinching a spot in the playoffs though, as doing so would knock teammate Matt Crafton out, and knock Grant Enfinger out of the lead in owners points. 

“The 98’s leading the points right now,” Rhodes said. “He’s doing so well. It’s frustrating to see how that’s playing out, certainly been kind of an interesting, weird year, from that aspect. A lot of guys have got in with those one good nights that they’ve had, and I don’t think they’ve really been performing that well since.”

Harrison Burton said his team has been taking every weekend racing for wins and nothing more, so this weekend won’t be much different for him. 

“That’s kind of our mission every week, which is fun, I guess,” he said. “Which is good because not much has changed and we can go into the weekend and have the same mindset that we normally do, and just have to come out and win and make it happen. There’s a few moments in your career where you have opportunities to make something cool like this happen, so hopefully as a team we can take advantage of that and go win one.”

He said he likes his chances at MIS. 

“Definitely,” he said. “This is a really racey racetrack. I think KBM has been really good here in the past. They ran really good here last year. I know Kyle has run really well when he’s run, and it’s been fun to watch him race here. This place puts on great races, especially in trucks. Everyone’s drafting and dicing it up, so as long as we’re in the mix toward the end, I think that we can make it happen.”

Todd Gilliland has one run one race in the truck at MIS, but he started second and finished fifth in the 2018 race. 

“I’m really excited,” Gilliland said. “If anything else, it’s an opportunity to put yourself in front of a big crowd here this weekend, do something that we all hope to do. Hopefully we can go out there and just have another strong run and be there at the end. I think that’s the thing. You basically position yourself the entire race just to have a shot at the end.”

Gilliland has been close, but has yet to get a win in the truck series, which has drawn criticism from his team owner, Kyle Busch. Gilliland said he feels like he’s close, and will eventually get over that hump. 

“I hope so,” he said. “I don’t know what it’s going to take to get over that, because I’ve said it before, I think once you get that first win, things come a lot easier, just because you’ve been there. Then you know what it takes.”

The Corrigan Oil 200 starts at 1 p.m. Saturday. 

Follow me on Twitter all weekend for updates from the track. 

Podcast #120 — Chase Elliott Dominates, Tempers Flare at Watkins Glen

Show notes:

Recap: Go Bowling at the Glen

  • Chase goes back-to-back!
    • Thoughts on the battle with Truex
  • The KB Show makes a return with a bumpy ride
    • Thoughts on Chad’s team orders to WB?
    • No penalities for the 18, 24 and 43
  • Johnson and Blaney have words
  • 2019 Eldora Dirt Derby
    • Stewart Friesen gets career win number 1
      • Lots of cautions!

Recap1

    • Bubble Drivers 
      • 13) #20-Erik Jones, 598, +54
      • 14) #42-Kyle Larson, 590, +46
      • 15) #14-Clint Bowyer, 556, +12
      • 16) #48-Jimmie Johnson, 544, +0

 

  • Currently outside the playoffs:

 

    • 17) #6-Ryan Newman, 544, -0
    • 18) #41-Daniel Suarez, 521, -23
    • 19) #21-Paul Menard, 483, -61

Do We Care?

  • 9 Races 9 Different Cup Winners

News Items: 

Preview: Consumers Energy 400 At Michigan International Speedway

  • Picks
    • Eric: Joey Logano
    • James: Erik Jones

Dark Horse

    • James: Daniel Hemric
    • Eric: Austin Dillon
  • Shoutouts if any
    • XXX

Fantasy League Update

Close show 

  • Where can we be found on social media?
  • James @jameskuch on Twitter
  • Eric @TSuperspeedway on Twitter
  • Facebook: Facebook.com/TheSuperSpeedway

 For more of the podcast:

  • Website address: www.thesuperspeedway.com
  • Podcasts will be found on there as well. 
  • Find us on iTunes, Google Play and Soundcloud

Become a Patron at www.patreon.com/thesuperspeedway

Podcast #119 — Hamlin once again king of Pocono

Show notes

Recap: Gander RV 400

  • Hamlin gets some revenge and wins.
  • Kurt Busch and Ricky Stenhouse get in Twitter Beef
  • Bubba and Suarez argue postrace
  • Bubble Drivers 
    • 13. Erik Jones 559
    • 14. Kyle Larson 557
    • 15. Clint Bowyer 532
    • 16. Ryan Newman 532
    • ——–
    • 17. Jimmie Johnson 520
    • 18. Daniel Suarez 501
    • 19. Paul Menard 464
    • 20. Ricky Stenhouse 444

Do We Care?

  • XXX 

News Items: 

Preview: Go Bowling at the Glen

  • Picks
    • James: Erik Jones
    • Eric: Kyle Busch

Dark Horse

    • Eric: Ryan Newman
    • James: Matt Dibenedetto

Preview: Eldora Dirt Derby from Eldora Speedway

  • Picks
    • Eric: Stewart Friesen
    • James: Ross Chastain
  • Shoutouts if any
    • XXX

Fantasy League Update

Close show 

  • Where can we be found on social media?
  • James @jameskuch on Twitter
  • Eric @TSuperspeedway on Twitter
  • Facebook: Facebook.com/TheSuperSpeedway

 For more of the podcast:

  • Website address: www.thesuperspeedway.com
  • Podcasts will be found on there as well. 
  • Find us on iTunes, Google Play and Soundcloud

Become a Patron at www.patreon.com/thesuperspeedway

Podcast #118 — Harvick holds off Hamlin for first 2019 win

Show notes:

Recap: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301

  • Kevin Harvick outduels Hamlin
    • Harvick’s first win of the season.
    • Hamlin and Kyle Busch led 231 laps
  • 750hp still > 550hp – Discuss
  • Bowman wrecks everything
  • Bubble Drivers
    • 13. Kyle Larson 519
    • 14. Erik Jones 516
    • 15. Ryan Newman 509
    • 16. Clint Bowyer 505
    • ——–
    • 17. Jimmie Johnson 488
    • 18. Daniel Suarez 488
    • 19. Paul Menard 445
    • 20. Ricky Stenhouse 428

Do We Care?

  • We should put the Front Row Pit crew swap here

News Items: 

Preview: Gander RV 400

  • Pocono is putting PJ1 down in the turns this weekend in an attempt to create more than one groove.
  • Radio-Style broadcast returns for NBC
  • Picks
    • Eric: Erik Jones
    • James: Kyle Larson

Dark Horse

    • James: Ryan Newman
    • Eric: William Byron
  • Shoutouts if any
    • XXX

Fantasy League Update

Close show 

  • Where can we be found on social media?
  • James @jameskuch on Twitter
  • Eric @TSuperspeedway on Twitter
  • Facebook: Facebook.com/TheSuperSpeedway

 For more of the podcast:

Podcast #117 — Kurt Busch beats Kyle Busch in battle of the brothers at Kentucky

Show notes:

Recap: Quaker State 400

    • Kurt Busch wins the battle of the Buschs
    • Kyle said he didn’t have any hard feelings after the race, but he did have a little punishment for Kurt

 

  • Audio (1:35) Kyle Busch Postrace

 

    • Kurt Busch talked about the last laps in his postrace press conference, starting with a question about the tire rub with a lap to go. 

 

  • Audio (2:21) Kurt Busch Postrace

 

    • We know what we know
      • SHR issues on race day
      • DON’T USE THIS WEEK: The 19 team can’t be a championship favorite. 
        • Average results on this track type. Flatter banking 1.5 to 2.0 ovals. 
          • Fontana – 8th, Texas – 12th, Kansas – 19th, Chicago – 9th, Kentucky 19th. 
    • Erik Jones’s third-place finish moved him into the top-16 in points and on the bubble. I had a chance after the race to ask him what his strategy will be going forward. 

 

  • Audio (0:29) Erik Jones postrace

 

    • Cole Custer
      • He IS the championship favorite.
    • Eric’s Experience from the weekend
      • Friday after practice some of the Cup drivers had media availability and one of those was Ryan Newman. I wanted to ask him how he was working the strategy being that he was on the bubble for the playoffs, but someone else beat me to it, and it led to some funny answers from Newman

 

  • Audio (1:53) Ryan Newman Racing Hard

 

      • Clint Bowyer is always interesting. I didn’t ask him any questions, but before his qualifying run, he came over and was chatting with reporters. First he was messing with Bob Pockrass a bit. 

 

  • Audio (1:14) Clint Messing with Bob

 

      • Next someone asked him where the best grip was on the track, and he of course had a funny answer. 

 

  • Audio (1:38) Clint Re Best Grip

 

      • One of the photographers posted something on Twitter Thursday night during the truck race praising Bubba Wallace for shooting photos during the race. I hung out after his qualifying run to ask him about that, and got to ask him a couple other questions as well. 

 

  • Audio (1:28) Bubba and Eric

 

      • Next the conversation turned to throwing the football with fans at Daytona, and Claire B. Lang had a question about that. 

 

  • Audio (1:10) Bubba Re Football

 

Do We Care?

  • Glampground

News Items: 

 

  • Audio (0:53) Christopher Bell

 

Preview: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway

  • Picks
    • James: Kevin Harvick
    • Eric: Kyle Larson

Dark Horse

    • Eric: Ryan Newman
    • James: Daniel Suarez
  • Shoutouts if any
    • James: Three Wide Life Show
    • Racing Electronics LEGEND
    • Age Filter Twitter

Fantasy League Update

Close show 

  • Where can we be found on social media?
  • James @jameskuch on Twitter
  • Eric @TSuperspeedway on Twitter
  • Facebook: Facebook.com/TheSuperSpeedway

 For more of the podcast:

Kurt Busch outduels his brother Kyle to win Quaker State 400

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart

Kurt Busch, driver of the #1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag ahead of Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota Camry Toyota, to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart at Kentucky Speedway on July 13, 2019 in Sparta, Kentucky. Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

By Eric Young

SPARTA, Ky. — A late-race caution turned into a battle of the brothers as Kurt and Kyle Busch dueled during an over-time finish at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night with the elder brother, Kurt, coming out on top and claiming his 31st career victory. 

“What an amazing finish to have it go our way right there,” Kurt said in the media center after the race. “It’s amazing what happened for us to have that restart, and have Kyle Larson behind me in the sixth position. The spotter said, ‘Teammate’s going with you.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, is he really?’ And he did, and he did a phenomenal job, and I didn’t have to look in the mirror, and all I had to do was play offense out in front of me. And what a battle. What a battle with my little brother, to race him side-by-side. To try to play the chess game and 180 miles an hour on the side draft. We’re wide open through turns one and two, and we were trying to go wide open through three and four, and it was a matter of me just staying as close as I could to his right rear quarter panel, because he was on my left rear down the straightaway. I had to be on his right rear in the corners.”

Kurt said as he drove into turn three on the final lap, he focused on Kyle’s door. 

“I could see the number 18 in my left, and I never lifted until I heard him lift,” Kurt said. :And then I’m like, wait a minute, I still have to miss the wall. And he gave me just enough room, as a true racer would. Or as my little brother would.”

Kurt said he was proud to finish the race one-two with Kyle. 

“Put on one hell of a show, one of those old-school-type races where two guys duking it out just happen to be brothers, different manufacturers. But this one I can’t wait to go watch the video of and tell people about it and show people the sport of NASCAR and the production and the pride that everybody has to try to get to victory lane was shown in those last few laps.”

Kyle said it was unfortunate to come up just a bit short at the end. 

“I got him cleared by just a little bit into three, and I think I could have slid up in front of him, but I think if I did I would have knocked the wall down on the exit,” Kyle said. “It was just going to be carrying too much speed for how bad my front tires were and how tight I was. So we just didn’t quite make the right adjustments there through the final pit stop, putting right side tires on it, we got way too tight.”

Kyle lost the lead to Joey Logano a few laps before the final caution, which came out when Darrell Wallace Jr. spun in turn two. He said it was that tightness that cost him then as well. 

“That’s what lost us the race with the 22,” Kyle said. “22 got us, we were going to lose anyway, so at least I salvaged the same place that we would have finished anyways.”

Logano was unable to salvage a similar finish, going from the lead to a finish of seventh in the final two laps. 

“The caution came out at the wrong time,” he said. “It happens. You try to think through your notebook on how to have a good restart. I thought I was going to have a decent one but I got stopped on the left rear there when Kyle got into me. That is what it is. That stopped all my momentum. The 1 had a huge run and I didn’t have anywhere to go. I couldn’t block them all. I tried to stop the 18 on his right rear by side-drafting. I saw the 1 coming and felt like if I could get in front of him that we were so low at the time if I blocked the 1, he would just go to the middle and pass me. I felt like I couldn’t stop the 1. I was in a bad spot. Once I got stopped on the left rear on the restart, I was a sitting duck and they just went by me on both sides.”

Logano said he thought it was a good race for the fans. 

“Yeah, it was a great race,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. You had strategy and a lot of cautions. You had probably the best Kentucky race we’ve ever had. Even down to that last bit, I think if I was a race fan I’d say that it was a good finish. Maybe I’m a little too close to the fire to say that it was a good finish right now.”

Erik Jones was able to bring his car home third and called it a “solid day.”

“The car was good until the end,” he said. “We got a little tight, but overall we had a positive day and you can’t take a whole lot away from that.”

Jones said on the final restart, he needed some help to have a chance at the win. 

“I needed a mistake from somebody or a really good restart,” he said. “And we got a really good restart, we just didn’t quite get cleared. I had to be really patient getting into three on the bottom. I didn’t want to get loose and get up into those guys, but getting behind Kyle and Kurt, if somebody made a mistake, I was just trying to stay at bay and hoping in three and four they would wash up and I would get a chance to sneak by. But they’re good drivers. They’re incontrol, they know what they’re doing, and they kept it clean and kept it straight.”

Jones said he was hoping the two would get together and take each other out. 

“Oh for sure, I think any racer would have been in my spot,” he said. “You want that win. And I knew there wasn’t enough time and I didn’t have the car to do it against them. And I needed a situation where they were going to move out of my way and they tried. They definitely tried to. But we just didn’t quite get there.”

Kyle Larson has had an up and down season, but followed his teammate’s victory with a fourth-place finish at Kentucky. He was asked if there was a rivalry between he and Kurt about who would get to victory lane first. 

“I pushed him to the win, so I wouldn’t say there was a rivalry at all,” Larson said. “We’re teammates, so I think we both want to see each other succeed.”

He then acknowledged there might be a slight rivalry there. 

“I won the All Star race, so I beat him to victory lane,” Larson said. 

Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five Saturday night. 

“Yeah, we definitely had a fast car — a car that was fast enough to run up there with those guys, but obviously going to the back of the pack there with 80 to go was detrimental to try to win the race. We had to make a call with no tires there and we didn’t gain track position. We had worse tires than everyone around us and still was able to come up fifth, so pretty happy with that effort. We have fast cars every week. As long as we have a clean race, we have chances to win and we just can’t have the penalties that we have and wrecks that we’ve had. It’s just a combination of things where we’re really, really close.”

After the race, Kyle Busch said there were no hard feelings with the way Kurt raced him.

“No hard feelings,” Kyle said. “That was fine. It was good. He’s got to find his own ride home because I’m not waiting for him.”

Kurt was asked in the media center what his brother had said to him postrace. 

“I haven’t seen him yet, but I was supposed to fly home with him and now I’m looking for a plane ride,” Kurt said, laughing. “So that’s Kyle. Wouldn’t even wait. We shared a plane ride earlier this year, I think it was Phoenix, where he won, and I had to sit there and wait for him to do his whole victory lane.”

But Kurt said he’ll get him back Sunday. 

“We’re going over to his house tomorrow for a little get together on a Sunday off, and I’m going to plop the trophy right down on his kitchen counter,” he said, smiling.

There were 15 lead changes among 10 drivers Saturday night, with Kyle leading the most at 72 laps. Daniel Suarez led 52 before having issues on pit road. Kurt led 41 and Clint Bowyer 40.

There were seven cautions for 35 laps. 

Look for a full recap of Saturday’s race later this week on The SuperSpeedway Podcast, as well as a preview of the upcoming weekend at New Hampshire.

Truex looks to go back to back to back at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart at Kentucky Speedway on July 14, 2018 in Sparta, Kentucky. Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

By Eric Young

SPARTA, Ky. — The past couple years, Speedway Motorsports Inc. could have named Kentucky Speedway Martin Truex Jr. Speedway. 

Truex has led 326 of 541 laps of the 2017 and 2018 editions of the Quaker State 400 en route to the victory in both races. He had the fourth-best average finish of 10.1 of active drivers at the track, having competed in all eight races at the speedway. 

And while Truex is certainly a favorite Saturday night at Kentucky, this isn’t the same Kentucky Speedway that we’ve seen in recent years. Combined with a new aero package this season and reduced horsepower, NASCAR has also applied traction compound to the outer grooves in the turns in an attempt to widen out the racing area. 

Truex qualified eighth for Saturday’s race. He said the changes have definitely made the team have to change directions a bit. 

“Definitely a lot on our mind coming here just because of this year and what it’s been all about,” Truex said. “It’s so different. I think back to the last couple of years and we’ve really been able to kind of come in here with the same strategy, mindset, setup and look for the same things throughout the weekend. Now, with the new cars this year and PJ1 on the track, all those things, different tires, it’s quite a bit different. We didn’t have a great day of practice. Hopefully we’ll make some good changes for the race. It’s tough these days when you come with a new package you don’t get a lot of practice, so we were off quite a bit to start and playing a little bit of catchup now.”

But Truex said he always welcomes new challenges. 

“I think that’s one of the most unique parts about our sport and what we do as drivers and teams,” he said. “This stuff is always changing. You could win four or five races in a row or whatever, and you go to a different race track and you’ve got a new challenge. They change the tires all the time. The rules of the cars are changing all the time. I would say that all the top drivers are consistently working on how they drive the cars and how do they do better? How can you be better because everybody is doing that? It’s a huge challenge to try to stay near the top of this sport and that’s part of what makes it fun.”

He said Friday that the verdict was still out on what the traction compound would do for tonight’s race. NASCAR threw another loop to teams early Saturday by reapplying the compound to the turns. 

“Based on watching the truck race, it looked like in three and four there were some options,” Truex said. “One and two, I think it’s just you’ve got so much banking and so much more speed that running higher is just the longer way around and we’re already using so much throttle through the corners that you just lose time. It kind of felt that way again today for us.”

“It’ll be interesting to see how much it changes at nighttime,” Truex said. “Is it going to grip up a lot or what’s going to happen there Is the bottom going to be better than it was today? Still a lot of questions. I would say in general, I didn’t think the PJ1 felt as sticky as I expected it to be. I expected it would be really no chance at all in running the bottom and everybody would be in the sticky stuff. But it seemed like there was a mixed bag, so that’s always a good thing I think.”