SPARTA, Ky. - Sunday: Little rain, big wrecks
Matt Kenseth's fuel-only pit road gamble helped him beat Jimmie Johnson late and win Sunday's rescheduled 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway.
A race that was Johnson's to lose ultimately became Kenseth's series-high fourth victory of the season even though he passed on getting new tires following the race's ninth caution. He widened his lead after a wild four-wide restart on lap 246 that saw Johnson's No. 48 Chevy spin from second place on a dominant day he led three times for 182 of 267 laps.
An early-race accident in Sunday's NASCAR race at Kentucky ended Brad Keselowski's hopes of repeating as winner, and the quest now is maintaining hopes of defending his Sprint Cup championship.
Keselowski was running near the top 10 on lap 49 when Kurt Busch's No. 78 Chevy went low, came back up the track and into his left rear quarter-panel. The contact spun the No. 2 Ford up the track in the front stretch and triggered a multicar wreck collecting five other cars.
Photos from Race Week at Kentucky Speedway: http://www.wcpo.com/gallery/news/news_photo_gallery/race-weekend-from-kentucky-speedway
Late Saturday evening: Well, so much for that. There was no race at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday. Mother Nature wouldn't cooperate and things had to be postponed.
The rain was off and on all day and despite clearing the track at various points, officials decided it was for the best if the Quaker State 400 was postponed until Sunday.
The drivers did come out for introductions, so the fans in attendance weren't just treated to an outdoor shower. But they'll have to make the trip back before noon Sunday when the race is scheduled to start.
Saturday evening (9:20 p.m.): The NASCAR race at Kentucky Speedway has officially been postponed due to rain. It is rescheduled for noon Sunday.
Saturday evening: It was announced earlier this afternoon that ARCA Racing will be coming back here in September and Z-Loop will be the sponsor. Z-loop is a national recycler of electronics and this is a good audience...Meanwhile, the fans gathered this afternoon in the garage where final preparations were taking place for tonight's race. Among those surrounding Kevin Harvick's car were a few Bengals: Kevin Huber, Chris Pressley and Gino Atkins. Gino said this is his first NASCAR race. He was hoping to take a lap around the track for about 20 minutes earlier this afternoon but that's when weather hit. Let's hope for better luck tonight.
Early Saturday evening: It would have been a nice too start racing about two hours ago (4 p.m.). That was nice. About noon was event better. It's wait and see here at Kentucky Speedway.
Saturday: A photographic look at Race Week from Sparta: http://www.wcpo.com/gallery/news/news_photo_gallery/race-weekend-from-kentucky-speedway
Late Friday evening: Brad Keselowski took his final lead on the 156th lap and went on to a rain-shortened victory Friday night in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway.
Showers halted the race at lap 170 in the scheduled 200-lap, 300-mile event, but drivers were expecting it to resume before another pocket of rain forced officials to call it off. Keselowski settled for doing victory spinouts, being careful to avoid sliding into the wall on a night mostly spent on firm footing. ( http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/sports/auto_racing/brad-keselowski-wins-nascar-nationwide-series-race-at-kentucky-speedway#ixzz2XbFzPsJG )
Friday evening: The questions during NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying Friday were how many drivers would raise Kentucky Speedway's record and by how much.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. provided the answer of the eight that broke it, clocking 183.636 mph to wrest the mark from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson and the pole for Saturday night's race.
Earnhardt's speed was nearly 2 mph faster than Johnson's 181.818 mph last June, which he needed to keep Johnson from keeping the record.
Early Friday evening: We are spending the week in the infield and have seen everybody trying to get a better view of the action.
Some build decks on top of busses, some stand on the top of their RVs, yet some just like finding spots on a hill.
It's an awfully big track so there are many places to sit, so many things to see.
A lot depends on what you like and what you can afford, but we found a prime spot up on a hill where a couple other people were perched Friday night.
Some campers were perched right down the backstretch, which is an unbeatable way to watch a race. It's such a good view, so close that if you stand up and wave
at the folks on the track, if they're going slow enough, they'll wave back.
Views like this tend to be an attraction for many fans, like Judy and Dave Greer of Harrison. They fell in love with their camp spot a few years ago, along with the people who come with it.
The Greers joked about the people in the area, but they love playing hosts, enjoying a few burgers and beers with their race day friends.
In fact, they try to feature a Cincinnati-style feast for these occasions.
Judy Greer is pretty well known in the backstretch. When she turned 70 she got a birthday cake from the owner of the Kentucky Speedway, Burton Smith. It was big enough to feed 80 of her friends.
And I can tell you this, Judy has at least 80 friends.
But don't get the idea this is just a social event. This is their sport and they plan to pay attention all race weekend. Of course they'll be watching, but they'll also be listening. Their hardware let's them check out what they missed in person.
Some people prefer the Reds, some people like the symphony. These friends gather here at the track for summer nights, sometimes special summer nights.
Friday afternoon: The racers get a little bit closer to go time as the clock ticks down to Saturday's showdown. One of the car's in the race will get a little local color as Brian Vickers' vehicle is dressed up to represent the Louisville Cardinals. It was the idea of team owner and Kentucky native Michael Waltrip.
Thursday evening: Ty Dillon took home the top spot in Thursday's truck race. More details at http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/sports/auto_racing/kentucky-speedway-ty-dillon-wins-nascar-truck-series-race
Thursday afternoon and early evening: Popo outlines the goings on in Sparta, Ky. and the events leading up to Thursday evening's truck race. You can view his video recap in the media player above (mobile and tablet users can view the video recaps by viewing this story in a Web browser)
Early Thursday morning: Photographer Mark Slaughter, satellite truck operator Greg Reams and I have settled in after our first day of work during Race Week at Kentucky Speedway.
We're spending our week in the infield at the Sparta, Ky. track inside a nice RV from Colerain RV. Our RV is parked about six feet from our satellite truck. You can't beat having home and work right next to one another.
This part of Kentucky got drilled by a couple of storms that blew through here late Wednesday afternoon. I was driving down Interstate 71 about nine miles from the Sparta exit when I saw cars pulled over to the side. I did the same thing and put on my flashers, but then realized I was a sitting duck for a bunch of big rigs that were still roaring through the rain. I got back into the flow of traffic.
Mark and Greg jumped into the RV when the storm hit and Mark swore it was going to flip over. It was shaking so much. It didn't end up flipping over and he got some good weather shots.
The nasty stuff went through by 5 p.m., but we had rain, thunder and lightning the rest of the night. Quite a few trees were down and tents and awnings were roughed up.
Good thinking by the track workers. They saw what was coming and they put the port-o-lets on their side.
Nobody was inside.
Went to Jewel's in Warsaw for dinner. Still great food and still very busy. We ran into a lot of race fans there, several from Greater Cincinnati.
The DQ brewed me a fresh cup of coffee at 8 p.m. Many thanks.
It's unbelievable how many campers were already in place when we got here Wednesday. Campers of all sizes, shapes and price ranges. Just a way of life for a lot of people.
The temperatures fell like a rock after the storm passed through. It had been close to 90 degrees much of the afternoon. Not long after the storm breezed by, we saw a reading of 69 degrees. Looks like it will be a very pleasant week.
The haulers pull in Thursday morning, followed by practice for both the trucks and the Nationwide Series. The Truck Series race begins at 8 p.m.
I'm told the public showers behind the grandstands still have cold water. It's a Kentucky tradition.