Quaker State 400
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After a crash-filled trip to Daytona that saw drivers like Michael McDowell and Cole Whitt finish in the top 15 and David Ragan, David Gilliland and Michael Annett crack the top 20, it should be back to business as usual this weekend at Kentucky Speedway.
Yes, the 1.5-mile oval underwent a repave and a reconfiguration since last season's race, but even a new-look 1.5-mile oval is going to produce a much more predictable race than a restrictor-plate track like Daytona.
As with most races at intermediate ovals, maximizing the points you earn in the laps led and fastest laps run categories is a must, and the laps led category could be particularly important. In each of the five Cup events at Kentucky, one driver has led at least 118 of 267 laps.
I'm not convinced the new pavement is going to change the trend, at least not this weekend. Removing Kentucky's incredibly bumpy surface should eventually help produce exciting racing, but until the track has time to develop multiple grooves, clean air is likely to be king.
If one or two proven fantasy studs qualify up front and show a lot of speed in practice, I'm going to build around them. I wouldn't be surprised if the race ends up being a one-sided affair.
With that in mind, let's take a first look at the drivers to keep an eye on heading into this weekend's activities. Qualifying is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. ET Friday evening, and the Quaker State 400 can be seen at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,400)
His numbers at Kentucky to date aren't great, but you can't ignore what Truex has done at 1.5-mile tracks in 2016. His 739 laps led in the five 1.5-mile races this year are 596 more than any other driver, and he has led 705 laps in the last three races alone, leading to most laps at Texas, Kansas and Charlotte. Needless to say, he could dominate the laps led and fastest laps run categories this weekend.