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Edwards hoping for win in Quaker State 400 to complete Kentucky triple crown

By Kevin Kelly


On to Sparta.

The tripleheader headlined by the Quaker State presented by Advance Auto Parts 400 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday includes the Camping World Truck Series’ UNOH 225 at 8 p.m. Thursday and the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300 at 7:30 p.m. Friday for the Nationwide Series.

“You get to that point when you’re throwing a party where you’re kind of waiting for the people to show up,” Kentucky Speedway general manager Mark Simendinger said. “There’s only so many times you can fold the napkins and get the silverware out. That’s kind of where we’re at right now. We’re ready to go.”

Kentucky is the center of the NASCAR world this week with the highlight Saturday's Quaker 400 (Photo from Kentucky Speedway)

Kentucky is the center of the NASCAR world this week with the highlight Saturday’s Quaker 400 (Photo from Kentucky Speedway)

Carl Edwards will be returning to the track where he earned his first NASCAR national series victory fresh off a victory in the Toyota/SaveMart 350 on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.

At Kentucky Speedway, the driver of the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford is looking to complete the Kentucky triple crown with a victory in Quaker State 400. Edwards has won Camping World Truck and Nationwide races at the track in the past.

He started on the outside of Row 1, led 35 laps and finished 21st in the Quaker State 400 last year.

“The truck race (in 2003) was really a tough one to win. The Nationwide race (in 2005) was tougher,” Edwards said this month. “The Cup race, it’s a really intense race. There’s a lot going on. It’s a long race and, right now, the competition in the Sprint Cup Series is insane. It’s a tough race to win and it’s definitely a great place to win. So, hopefully, we can do that. That would be really special for me.”

Sunday’s victory at Sonoma was Edwards’ second this season and first career on a road course. It also halted a five-race winning streak by powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick drivers Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second and third Sunday.

“A lot of hard work has gone into this, and to be locked into the Chase is huge,” Edwards told reporters afterward. “Now we can focus really hard on our program for the final 10 races (before the Chase).

“And then the real special part to me was to stand in victory lane at Sonoma and have Jeff Gordon come and give me a handshake as the second place finisher means a lot. I grew up watching Jeff Gordon and specifically watching how he drove this racetrack and all the successes he had hereā€¦.It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Earnhardt Jr. was one of nine drivers who last year broke the Sprint Cup qualifying record at Kentucky Speedway, reaching 183.636 mph to take the pole for the race. He led 10 laps and finished 12th in the No. 88 Chevrolet.

Kentucky Speedway is the lone track on the current Sprint Cup schedule at which Gordon has yet to win a Sprint Cup race.

The four-time series champion has finished no worse than 10th in Sprint Cup competition at Kentucky in the No. 24 Chevrolet and will enter the weekend atop the series’ points standings after 16 races. He leads six-time Sprint Cup champion and Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson by 20 points and Earnhardt Jr. by 25 points.

Defending Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts champion Matt Kenseth is 65 points back in fourth followed closely by 2012 Quaker State 400 winner Brad Keselowski.

Keselowski and Kyle Busch, the winner of the inaugural Quaker State 400, are scheduled to compete in all three races at Kentucky Speedway.

Busch owns one Sprint Cup victory this season and is 11th in the points standings. He has won in four different series at Kentucky Speedway and is the last driver to sweep three NASCAR national series races on the same weekend at the same track, accomplishing the feat in 2010 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Qualifying for the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts is set for 5:40 p.m. Friday.

In the Nationwide Series, Regan Smith holds a 10-point lead over Elliott Sadler in the standings followed by rookies Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon.

Brendan Gaughan won Saturday’s race at Road America. Keselowski is the defending race winner at Kentucky.

ThorSport Racing teammates Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton are 1-2 in the Camping World Truck standings after seven races. Crafton is the defending series champion.

Darrell Wallace Jr. won the series’ most recent race, on June 14 at Gateway Motorsports Park. Dillon won the Camping World Truck race last June at Kentucky Speedway.

The National Weather Service’s extended forecast for Sparta looks favorable with most mostly cloudy conditions and low temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s anticipated each night. There is a 30 percent chance of precipitation during the day Friday and Saturday.

CLICK HERE for more coverage of the Quaker State 400.

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