|Kyle Busch took the checkered flag in last|
year's inaugural Sprint Cup race. (Getty)
As a sister track in a rural area, we can attest that you learn from your early experiences. There's still the occasional fan that complains it takes too long to get out of the parking lot here at NHMS, but most fans are quick to remind them that with 100,000 people departing the same area, it does take some time. In general, fans at "The Magic Mile" think that the traffic flow around the track moves in a timely fashion considering the circumstances.
After having hosted a race, Kentucky has had time to reflect on what didn't go well and make the necessary changes during the offseason. Will everything go perfect? No, probably not. This is our 20th year of hosting Cup races at NHMS and we still have a thorough analysis of how we can improve the fan experience, especially in terms of traffic flow.
I do believe that Kentucky will be far improved over last year's issues and fans will be satisfied that the track is aspiring to give fans the best experience it can. Speedway Motorsports Inc., in general, takes pride in being an industry leader, and all its tracks live by the same "Fans First" motto.
When it comes to the fantasy NASCAR team, improvement will be a little more difficult at Kentucky Speedway. One race worth of stats is probably the most difficult to deal with. At least, if there's no data, you have to look at other factors, but it's tempting to look at last year and make predictions that just might not hold up.
Seriously? What are the odds David Reutimann finishes second, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer finish in the 30s this Saturday? Statistically, those are their average finishes at this track, but after just one race, that stat is insignificant.
Strategy: The 1.5-mile tri-oval should be considered a cookie cutter. While it's a little flatter than some of the other tracks of its type, its standard shape and size make it easy to look at drivers' stats from other tracks and make projections.
#14 Tony Stewart - He's feast or famine right now. In the last eight races, he has five finishes of second or third and the other three were 24th or 25th. He has a 102.5 driver rating on intermediate tri-ovals in the past three seasons, so he could build on his current streak of three top-fives.
#17 Matt Kenseth - Since February 2010, Mr. Consistency has the highest finish on intermediate tri-ovals (8.43) and finished sixth at Kentucky last year.
#48 Jimmie Johnson - He's about as safe as they come on cookie cutters and won five straight championships due to his strength on the track type. He finished third at Kentucky in 2011.
#99 Carl Edwards - While he's usually strong on these tracks, he hasn't registered a top-10 in the last four races. He's definitely not the safest choice this week.
#5 Kasey Kahne - After seven straight top-10s, Kahne was involved in accidents two weeks in a row before finishing 14th on Sonoma's road course. If Kahne stays damage free, he should get the top-10 streak started again.
#15 Clint Bowyer - The win last week should be a boost of confidence for the whole Michael Waltrip Racing garage that it can contend. Bowyer has registered four straight top-10s and is as strong as most of the B-List on the intermediate tracks.
#16 Greg Biffle - The Biff ranks third on this track type with a 104.1 driving rating since the start of 2010. He's been a strong car all year, so he's a strong start at Kentucky.
#88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. - With the way he's driving, Junior is a good start most any week (except on road courses), so ride with him while he's hot!
#20 Joey Logano - He has four top-10s in the last six races, but cookie cutters are not his strong suit.
#39 Ryan Newman - He finished fourth at Kentucky last year and is capable of racing any track. However, he's a little less than average on intermediates. In the interest of allocation management, there are more reliable options.
#43 Aric Almirola - With few other options, it's back to being an Almirola week!
#55 Michael Waltrip - I've never been overly impressed by Waltrip's body of work as a driver, but the No. 55 car has run well with multiple drivers this season. He could be a risk worth taking.
#32 Ken Schrader - He tends to be one of the part-timers that gets considered based on his career stats. He's entered five races this season and hasn't finished better than 30th, so there's really no upside to starting him.
The picks in this blog are based around Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game and its standard scoring rules. The preview is designed to provide suggestions, while still encouraging managers to make their own decisions. Once sorted into Yahoo's A, B and C-Lists, they are organized based on car number and not directly associated with a rank value.
You can sign up and play for free, by visiting http://racing.fantasysports.yahoo.com. If signed up, the "Fans of NHMS" group may be joined by clicking here.