Lots of tracks have defining moments in their history, whether in the early years or even recent times. Some are great memories that define a race, or others define an entire event.
Many can say that's what happened last year at the debut Sprint Cup event for the Kentucky Speedway. There was a lot of great action on the track, and a great battle to get the first victory at a new venue. Unfortunately, all that action on the track became overshadowed by the chaos that was ensuing outside the venue.
Backed up traffic, not enough parking and frustrated fans made up the bulk of the storylines for the week afterward. Nothing is worse for a track, especially at a debut event, when a sold out crowd can't even make it to the track.
This year, things will be different. More land has been purchased, new patterns are in place, and it looks as though getting the crowd into the track will not be a problem.
But, that's not the real action...the true action is on the 1.5-mile track. The racing was incredible last year, so a follow-up performance will be hard to do.
With only one race to fall back on for statistics, it's made picks a bit harder. But, they are set. Here's a look at the writers' choices in the Quaker State 400:
Misan Akuya: Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart has shown just how strong he is the last three races with finishes of third, second and second in the last three races. He is also showing that he may be the championship favorite and is ready to go on another winning streak.There has only been one race at Kentucky and Smoke lead laps until he had pit road issues. Stewart is always strong on the mile and halfs and saturday night could be when he knocks another track that he hasn't won at off that list.
James Broomhead: Jimmie Johnson
Kelly Crandall: Tony Stewart
I really struggled this week with who to pick, going back and forth between drivers. With correctly picking Kyle Busch last year I really wanted to go with him again, but he's had the absolute worst month in the Sprint Cup Series and then his vacuum goes and breaks the other day when he's trying to get things done at his house. Talk about being cursed.
Jimmie Johnson was fast at Kentucky last year too and Joey Logano has been strong lately as well. He's a former Kentucky winner, be it in the Nationwide Series. All of these drivers will be strong picks and be most likely in contention on Saturday night.
But, Stewart has been the hottest driver lately. He's finished third, second and second the last three weeks and now with it being summertime, it's normally Stewart time. It will be hot and slick in Kentucky this weekend and that's just how Stewart likes it. Hopefully he'll be pulling into Victory Lane for his third win of the year.
Billy Fellin: Brad Keselowski
He's running the triple threat this weekend with trucks, Nationwide and Sprint Cup and has been successful at Kentucky in Nationwide and trucks. He finished 7th last year at Kentucky in the Sprint Cup's first visit. I'll take the 2 this week.
Michael Hirshbein: Kyle Busch
Christopher Leone: Martin Truex Jr.
It's the home track for Michael Waltrip, his team won last week with Bowyer, they've won here before, and he's has been fast one the mile-and-a-halves all season. Truex it is.
Kara Martin: Jimmie Johnson
Ryan O'Hara: Jimmie Johnson
I got lucky with the 24 last week I don't think I want to risk another bad finish. Need some wins baby!!
Dustin Parks: Carl Edwards
Much like a lot of folks, I really wanted to try the Wild Thing pick this week, but because of all the circumstances that's happened recently on the track, I just can't pull the trigger. So I had to think about making a strong pick, and one that could help me in the points.
Enter Cousin Carl. It's already been a big week for Roush-Fenway, and not in the best way. Knowing that Kenseth is leaving at the end of the year is a big blow to the organization, and I think it will effect the performance at the track. So, I decided to stick with the Ford camp and pick his teammate. He finished fifth here last year, and has 17 wins on intermediate tracks.
This weekend is Edwards' first race with UPS as the primary sponsor on his No. 99. Maybe he can put the "big brown truck" back in victory lane for the first time since 2005.
Patti Rodisch: Greg Biffle
I really, really, really wanted to go with Kyle Busch but his recent runs of engine issues on bigger tracks have me hesitant to pull the trigger on that pick. So instead I am going to go with Greg Biffle who has the best average on 1.5 mile tracks in 2012.
I think Biffle who already has a win this needs to lock up win number two and Kentucky is the place he should be able to get it done. He has had fast cars every week and even though he is no longer leading the standings Biffle will be tough to beat this weekend.
The Bif will be back in victory lane on Saturday night.
Sal Sigala Jr: Jimmie Johnson
Rob Tiongson: Clint Bowyer
He's been arguably the most consistent MWR driver this season and he's been heating up so far during the early portions of this summer. I look for big things from Driver 15 this Saturday night at KYMS!
Standings following Sonoma:
Billy Fellin (574) Marcos Ambrose finished 8th (2)
Sal Sigala Jr. (559) Jimmie Johnson finished 5th (1)
Misan Akuya (555) Marcos Ambrose finished 8th (1)
Kelly Crandall (548) Marcos Ambrose finished 8th (2)
James Broomhead (533) Marcos Ambrose finished 8th (2)
Christopher Leone (533) Robby Gordon finished 39th (1)
Dustin Parks (512) Jeff Gordon finished 6th (1)
Rob Tiongson (511) Marcos Ambrose finished 8th (3)
Kara Martin (508) Marcos Ambrose finished 8th (1)
Patti Rodisch (499) Jeff Gordon finished 6th (2)
Ryan O'Hara (484) Jeff Gordon finished 6th (1)
Michael Hirshbein (467) Marcos Ambrose finished 8th (1)
Final Thoughts: Judging by the picks this week, everyone is all over the board for their choices. With only one race to go by, and yet despite the track size being the most common on the circuit, the picks range from champions to teammates.
Someone will either be in victory lane Saturday night, or 12 writers will be licking their wounds wishing for a trophy to be in hand.
Coverage kicks off with "Countdown to Green" on TNT at 6:30 p.m.
Summary of Picks:
Martin Truex Jr-1