Traffic Jam: Busch Battles to Win at Kentucky

Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR

Saturday evening the state of Kentucky welcomed NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series to their 1.5 mile Kentucky Speedway for the inaugural Cup race. Fans from the state and surrounding areas had been waiting for this day for a decade, but what many got was less than they bargained or paid for.

What was supposed to be the most exciting thing to come to the state in years was overshadowed by the thousands of fans who spent the majority of their day confined to their cars. Due to the speedway’s location and the limited access points, fans who didn’t get to the track at the crack of dawn sat in traffic for hours just inching along the interstate and the road leading to the track entrance. Those who finally made it to the track shared their stories with their Twitter followers while those still waiting tuned their radios to the race broadcast just hoping they might get there in time to see a few laps of green flag racing.

While the Busch brothers, Kyle and Kurt, battled for the lead, fans who had waited all day and spent their hard-earned money on tickets reported being turned away because there just wasn’t enough parking to accommodate. Apparently those who left their cars on the side of the highway and hoofed it to the track in the hot summer sun had the right idea. At least they got to see what they paid for.

The on-track action left a lot to be desired for race fans in the stands and at home. A lack of passes within the field, one -dominance, and a general lack of excitement left many with a bad taste in their mouth and wondering why another 1.5 mile track had been added to the schedule.

Starting from the pole position after Friday’s qualifying runs were cancelled, Kyle Busch dominated the first half of the race though older brother Kurt was the driver to beat in the opening laps. As the two Las Vegas natives played follow the leader, drivers like Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson struggled to keep them within their sights as they pulled ahead by a large margin.

Pit strategy and track position came into play during the second caution of the night, which came out for debris on lap 139. Brad Keselowski and a few others elected not to pit while the leaders came down pit road for adjustments. Keselowski was able to keep the lead until he was forced to pit road for fuel on lap 187, giving the position back to Kyle Busch.

A caution on lap 200 for Jamie McMurray’s smoking car slowed the field for the fourth time and showed David Ragan as the leader as those who had been leading for most of the day had just recently made green flag stops. The race restarted with Keselowski and Kyle Busch side by side but Keselowski quickly established a nearly two-second lead over the field. As the run progressed, Busch was able to make up time on the No. 2 and after green flag pit stops was ahead of Keselowski.

The fifth caution of the night came out on lap 254 for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s flat tire. Earnhardt had just exited pit road when the tire blew. Reutimann, who was scored as the leader, hit pit lane and Kyle Busch once again found himself at the front of the field. The field quickly fell under caution again with just six laps to go when Clint Bowyer’s No. 33 blew a tire and hit the outside fence.

With two laps to go, the green flag flew for the final time as Kyle Busch battled Jimmie Johnson for the lead to win his second race for the weekend and the first ever Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway. This was Busch’s third win of the season and his 99th overall victory in NASCAR’s top three series. Busch is now the points leader over Carl Edwards by just four points.

While it’s easy to point out the negative aspects of a race and the fans' reactions, it’s important to remember that no track is perfect their first time around. Sure, things could have been done to accommodate more fans and make the track’s introduction to the Cup Series smoother. But if Bruton Smith has anything to say about it, the next time the Cup Series visits my home state of Kentucky things will be completely different … at least that’s what we all hope for.
black polo2 A fan of NASCAR since the age of 12, Katy Lindamood is the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Skirts and Scuffs. In addition to Beyond the Byline, which profiles the women of Skirts and Scuffs, Katy also writes Deuces Wild, a weekly recap of Penske Racing drivers Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch. Katy can be contacted via email or through Twitter.
Traffic Jam: Busch Battles to Win at Kentucky Traffic Jam: Busch Battles to Win at Kentucky Reviewed by Katy Lindamood on Saturday, July 09, 2011 Rating: 5