NASCAR at Kentucky 2017: Start Time, Ticket Info, Lineup, TV Schedule and More – Bleacher Report

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JULY 01: Ty Dillon, driver of the #13 GEICO Military Chevrolet, David Ragan, driver of the #38 Shriners Hospital for Chldrn 95th Annvrsry Ford,  AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kroger ClickList Chevrolet, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Fifth Third Bank Ford, race during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 59th Annual Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 1, 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

It will be hard to top the holiday spectacle put on by the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in Daytona a week ago, yet Jimmie Johnson and the rest of the cast will attempt to do so Saturday during the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.

As expected, the Coke Zero 400 kept in line with the rest of the season so far, putting up a shock winner in the form of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., while Daytona legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. landed 32nd despite it being a marquee point on his retirement tour.

What Kentucky holds in store for the series is impossible to say at this point. The playoff picture is a mess with the stage-based format helping 11 drivers clutch checkered flags so far, meaning even winners aren’t necessarily safe in the postseason bracket.

Below, let’s take a look at one of the summer’s most important events, which is amplified more than usual thanks to the newfound parity sweeping the sport.

          

Viewing Details

Where: Kentucky Speedway

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Watch: NBCSN

Live Stream: NBC Sports

Tickets: ScoreBig.com

           

Quaker State 400 Entries

AJ Allmendinger

Austin Dillon

Brad Keselowski

Carl Long

Chase Elliott

Chris Buescher

Clint Bowyer

Cole Whitt

Corey LaJoie

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Danica Patrick

Daniel Suarez

Darrell Wallace Jr

David Ragan

Denny Hamlin

Derrike Cope

Erik Jones

Jamie McMurray

Jeffrey Earnhardt

Jimmie Johnson

Joey Logano

Kasey Kahne

Kevin Harvick

Kurt Busch

Kyle Busch

Kyle Larson

Landon Cassill

Martin Truex Jr.

Matt DiBenedetto

Matt Kenseth

Michael McDowell

Paul Menard

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Newman

Ryan Sieg

TBA

TBA

Trevor Bayne

Ty Dillon

           

2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Standings

           

Drivers to Watch

Kyle Larson

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

It’s almost easy to forget Kyle Larson given the chaos on the leaderboard and the seemingly endless storylines surrounding the season.

Yet, sort the leaderboard by points alone and the 24-year-old tops the list.

To be fair, the fact Larson has finished worse than 20th in each of his past two outings makes it easy to gloss over him. But it’s a mistake—while wrecks and other issues hurting a finishing line aren’t ideal, keep in mind he has won two poles over his last three outings.

For those counting, Larson has two wins and four poles on the year, not to mention all of seven finishes outside of the top 10. The momentum isn’t limited to this series, either, as NBC pointed out on Twitter:


Obviously it would be nice for Larson to grab some momentum by putting together more top-10 performances. But this isn’t any driver on a perceived cold streak based on his finishes—it’s arguably the hottest current driver in the series having a bit of bad luck near the end of races.

             

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

John Raoux/Associated Press

Before the season, someone suggesting Stenhouse would be one of the sport’s multi-race winners by mid-July would’ve been laughed out of the building. 

Only the Roush Fenway Racing driver is laughing now.

Stenhouse stunned the series by stealing a win at Talladega in May, leading all of 14 laps before taking what seemed like an almost fluky checkered flag. Last week, he led all of 17 before taking his second of the year.

ESPN Stats & Info provided some much-needed context:


“I kept my Talladega car and told them to build a new one,” Stenhouse said, per Jayski.com (via ESPN.com). “They built a Fifth Third Ford that was really fast…”

Stenhouse might need to stop saving cars he’s won this season because he hasn’t showed any signs of slowing while becoming an unexpected title contender.

It sounds funny, but Stenhouse is one of the big winners of the new format this year. He’s locked into the playoff hunt and riding a wave of momentum few can match.

           

Brad Keselowski

John Raoux/Associated Press

Each week there seems to be a driver who needs to turn things around and happens to head into a perfect locale to do so.

This week the status belongs to Brad Keselowski, he of three wins in this event dating back to its inaugural running in 2011. He’s won two of the last three, showing a dominance of the track few have at any venue.

Keselowski could use the turnaround after finishing 31st at Daytona a week ago, though he did win the first stage. Despite the storylines here, he’s spent most of his time in the week leading up to the race talking about how the sport overall can improve, as captured by Fox Sports on Twitter:


For now, Keselowski will have to settle for dominating in his Ford once again, provided he’s his usual self at Kentucky.

It’s worth noting there hasn’t been anything usual about Keselowski as of late. Over his last six outings, he’s finished 16th or worse four times. He’s led laps in four consecutive races, but it’s important for him to rediscover his form at one of his best venues, regardless of his two checkered flags on the season so far.

          

Stats and info courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

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