SPARTA, KY- Pole Winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and both Quaker State 400 winners Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski were the top three favorites for today’s 267-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.
Unfortunately, all three were involved in early incidents with Keselowski being done for the day in a fiery crash in Turn 2 on Lap 47.
The inaugural race and pole winner Busch spun on the Lap 42 restart off Turn 2. He was lucky to not hit anything but will have a long day with bad track position. He will need to work a late race strategy to get back up to the front.
Earnhardt was caught in a “freak incident” when Denny Hamlin blew a right front tire on Lap 36. Parts of Hamlin’s tire flew off off Turn 4 and hit the No. 88 National Guard Chevy along with his teammate Jimmie Johnson while they were running 1-2.
Steve Letarte (Earnhardt’s Crew Chief) originally thought they’d be okay but under the red flag he changed his mind and decided to bring him down pit road to repair the damage to the front end grille and splitter. “We figured it’s time to take our medicine and get this fixed now to have a better day,” said Letarte.
Earnhardt pitted once the red flag was done and came out 24th. They will battle heating issues the rest of the day to try and keep the engine cool.
Keselowski’s bad luck continued as he was hit entering Turn 1 by the No. 78 of Kurt Busch. The contact sent the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford into the outside Turn 1 SAFER barrier and collected five others. Keselowski will finish 39th. It will now be four straight finishes outside the top 10 for the defending Sprint Cup Series champion.
Eric Smith is the Lead Motorsports Writer for Race Review Online. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru
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