The green flag is set to drop on the second half of the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series season. With 18 races in the books and 18 races still ahead – eight regular-season and 10 playoff – the series makes a stop at Kentucky Speedway for some Saturday night racing in the Quaker State 400.
Just a week removed from arguably the most bizarre ending to a race this season, in which Justin Haley won a weather-shortened Coke Zero Sugar 400 in just his third career Cup Series start, NASCAR fans will look for a return to the norm on a track that has only produced four different winners since its 2011 inception.
The most recent driver to dominate Kentucky Speedway is Martin Truex Jr., the winner of the last two annual trips to the track. Truex is fifth in the Cup Series standings and is one of only two drivers with four wins this season.
Kyle Busch, who is second in the standings behind Joey Logano, is the other driver with four wins, although only one has come in the last 10 races. Busch has won twice on this track and will start 10th.
Brad Keselowski, who has the most wins at Kentucky with three, will start third. He needs one more win to join Truex and Busch with four this season. Keselowski is the only non-Toyota (Ford) to ever win on the track.
Kentucky Speedway is a 1.5-mile oval with 17-degree banking in Turns 1 and 2, and 14-degree banking in Turns 3 and 4. It will be the last race of the regular season on such an oval.
Sporting News is tracking live lap-by-lap updates and highlights from the Quaker State 400. Follow along below.
(All times Eastern)
Caution flags: 5
Lead changes: 10
Lap leaders: Kyle Busch (71), Daniel Suarez (50), Kurt Busch (39), Clint Bowyer (38), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (21), Brad Keselowski (3), Erik Jones (1)
10:16 p.m.: The NBC broadcast is reporting that once everyone cycles around, Erik Jones will be ahead of Busch and Bowyer.
10:14 p.m.: Austin Dillon has returned to the race after taking some time to fix an engine issue…He’s 31 laps down.
10:09 p.m.: The No. 1 car pits and takes four tires and fuel.
10:05 p.m.: Kurt Busch takes the top spot as Bowyer heads to pit road.
10:03 p.m.: It’s a three-car battle for first between Bowyer and the Busch brothers.
9:58 p.m.: Death, taxes and Kyle Busch is compaining about drivers three-wide racing when they don’t have to.
9:55 p.m.: William Byron has been issued a penalty for a restart violation. He was second.
9:55 p.m.: We’re back green with 84 laps to go.
9:47 p.m.: Caution. Jimmie Johnson loses control and spins into the wall. He took some pretty heavy damage.
9:41 p.m.: Green flag for the final stage. Clint Bowyer is the new leader.
9:36 p.m.: Busch takes a splash of fuel and gives up the lead to Erik Jones.
9:32 p.m.: It’s a Busch bash in Kentucky. Kyle Busch wins Stage 2.
9:28 p.m.: Daniel Hemric is penalized for pulling a jack out of his pit box.
9:27 p.m.: The pit cycle is complete. Busch is still in first with a two-second lead over Erik Jones. Austin Dillon is third.
9:26 p.m.: Busch now pits with 11 laps left. He takes four new tires.
9:22 p.m.: Twenty laps to go in Stage 2. Busch has a lead of eight seconds over Denny Hamlin in second.
9:18 p.m.: Busch has to hit his brakes several times as Keselowski gets in his way trying to stay on the lead lap.
9:15 p.m.: Logano heads to pit road. He, too, is complaining of rattling in the back of his car.
9:11 p.m.: Austin Dillon’s team is worried his alternator has failed. They’re going to swap a new battery and hope he can make it through this stage.
9:06 p.m.: Suarez is penalized for speeding on pit road.
9:04 p.m.: And just like that, Kyle Busch is your new leader.
9:00 p.m.: Kyle Busch has moved from eighth on the restart to third. Stenhouse and Bowyer are neck and neck.
8:55 p.m.: Kyle Busch is first out of pit road, but Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Clint Bowyer will be the leaders on the restart.
8:46 p.m.: Kurt Busch becomes the first driver not named Martin Truex to win a stage at Kentucky since 2016.
8:43 p.m.: Five laps left in Stage 1. Kurt Busch has a half-second lead over Logano for first. Kyle Busch is third.
8:39 p.m.: It’s now Kurt Busch and Logano in the front row on this restart.
8:33 p.m.: And another caution. Landon Cassill and Bayley Currey get sideways at the back of the pack.
8:31 p.m.: The Busch brothers are the front row on the restart.
8:24 p.m.: As soon as they go green with Brad Keselowski in the lead, Corey LaJoie spins out, and another caution flag is waved.
8:19 p.m.: Almirola and Suarez both opt to take tires, while most other drivers just gased and dashed. It’ll cost them track position.
8:15 p.m.: Caution is out. Chase Elliott has a flat, front right tire.
8:12 p.m.: Joey Logano is quickly improving his position. He’s up five spots to sixth. Clint Bowyer is the first to hit pit road.
8:06 p.m.: Brad Keselowski is complaining about something rattling in his car.
8:01 p.m.: Lap traffic already creating some issues for Daniel Suarez. Aric Almirola is closing the gap.
7:56 p.m.: Kyle Busch nearly draws contact with Clint Bowyer as he makes his way to ninth.
7:52 p.m.: Green flag!
7:48 p.m.: Huge transition into shadow on Turns 3 and 4. That’ll be very annoying for drivers at the start.
7:47 p.m.: The cars are rolling off of pit road.
7:34 p.m.: Beautiful day at the track. No rain tonight!