The old cliche is "You never get a second chance to make a first impression."  For the folks at Kentucky Speedway, their first chance to have an excellent race was good, at least the on-track product.

Outside the product, trying to get people to make it to the track, that was an entirely different story.

The stigma of the traffic fiasco in 2011 still haunts this facility, even after purchasing more land to park and doing an overhaul of traffic patterns to get every fan into the track.  When a sold-out crowd can't even make it to the track, there's certainly issues.

Not necessarily a great way to debut a Sprint Cup event, but at the same time the fans that were able to make it there got to see a great race, and the follow-up event was just as exciting.

There's no reason to think the third time won't be as great or better.

All the writers certainly know this, as they have locked in for their next round of picks.  Here's who they are going with to win the Quaker State 400:

 

Misan Akuya:  Matt Kenseth

He won at Las Vegas and Kansas.

Rob Blount:  Kyle Busch

He's due to break from his little slump he has going lately. Won the inaugural race at Kentucky in 2011. Watch for him to be in victory lane and taking a bow on Saturday night.

James Broomhead:  Kyle Busch

No reason.

Kelly Crandall:  Jimmie Johnson

It was an 11th hour pick, honestly had a bunch of names in front of me and no reason why or why not to choose each one of them.

Billy Fellin:  Brad Keselowski

The blue deuce hasn't been strong as of late, but he's the reigning winner and this is where he turned things on last season.

If he's going to turn it on again, this is the place.

Michael Hirshbein:  Kyle Busch

No reason.

Christopher Leone:  Martin Truex Jr.

NAPA Know How for two in a row.

Kara Martin:  Brad Keselowski

​No reason.

Ryan O'Hara:  Jeff Gordon

No reason.

Dustin Parks:  Brad Keselowski

Another week that was tough to choose.  Many programs have a strong 1.5-mile package this year, most notably Kenseth.  But I have to go with the previous winner because this really kick-started his summer that led to his championship.

This year he needs to get a win to erase the bad publicity he's gotten, as well as his team.  Maybe the Bluegrass State can provide that.

Patti Rodisch:  Jimmie Johnson

I am going back to ole' five-time to get be back up top the standings. Third time could be the charm for Johnson as he looks to cross of Kentucky as a track he has never won at.

Sal Sigala Jr:  Jimmie Johnson

No reason.

Rob Tiongson:  Carl Edwards

Looking good for driver 99 to get his second win of the year....extra motivation to win with UPS nearby!

 

Standings following Sonoma:

Rob Tiongson (568) Marcos Ambrose finished 7th (1)

Patti Rodisch (561) Marcos Ambrose finished 7th (0)

Kelly Crandall (537) Kurt Busch finished 4th (1)

Billy Fellin (515) Marcos Ambrose finished 7th (1)

Dustin Parks (503) Jeff Gordon finished 2nd (0)

Michael Hirshbein (490) Marcos Ambrose finished 7th (2)

Sal Sigala Jr(489) Jimmie Johnson finished 9th (0)

Rob Blount (489) Tony Stewart finished 28th (1)

James Broomhead (481) Marcos Ambrose finished 7th (1)

Ryan O'Hara (450) Juan Pablo Montoya finished 34th (0)

Kara Martin (443) Tony Stewart finished 28th (0)

Misan Akuya (386) Tony Stewart finished 28th (0)

Christopher Leone (347) NO PICK SENT (0)

 

Final Thoughts:  The summer season has just begun and the first race of the hottest part of the year was filled with many twists, turns, and unexpected moments.  To quote the movie, Grease, "Summer days drifting away, but, ah, those summer nights."

It's a summer night, Saturday night, where the lights are shining down and the competition really heats up.

TNT continues it's summer series of races, with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET with "Countdown to Green."

 

Summary of Picks:

Kyle Busch-3

Jimmie Johnson-3

Brad Keselowski-3

Carl Edwards-1

Jeff Gordon-1

Matt Kenseth-1

Martin Truex Jr.-1