For Kentucky racing fans, it's perhaps the happiest time of the year as their 1.5-mile beauty of a track finally has the big show in Sparta on a Saturday night.
Prior to this Saturday night's inaugural Quaker State 400 (Live on TNT at 6:30 EST/NASCAR.comRaceBuddy at 7:30 PM EST), the only opportunities that the Bluegrass State welcomed Cup competitors were test sessions held prior to the 2009 season or Nationwide and Truck Series races. It was like a tease or a sample, which was OK, but not quite as awesome as the real thing.
Now they'll know what Cup racing at this moody track will be like in a few nights, which will certainly leave its mark with this year's Chase field. No, the championship will not be won at this track, but the chance to contend for it could decrease with a night cut short by an accident or mechanical failure.
Strangely, it's been a while since the Cup teams welcomed a new race track on the circuit, with Kansas Speedway being the most recent addition to the series back in 2001. While some folks may not like the idea of another 1.5-mile speedway joining the most premier stock car division, Kentucky's not your Justin Bieber fan's cookie cutter venue.
Kentucky's a fast intermediate track, with qualifying speeds ranging from 175-181 mph per Nationwide races, so just add two-four miles per hour to that range and you'll get a sense of how fast the Cup gang will negotiate O. Bruton Smith's facility.
Expect a rash of caution periods as the track will be unfamiliar to some strictly Cup racers, as some of them will tangle with each other in the corners or even during double-file, shootout style restarts.
Come to think of it, this has all the ingredients to be a dandy of a race. As Vince Welsh of ESPN says, as we "get down to the nitty gritty," we might just see this race produce a sort of "upset" be it an angry racer or a driver scoring a breakthrough victory. What does that mean?
Well, it means that you oughta check out this week's edition of "Going Green: Five Faces to Follow For Saturday Night's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway!"