3 Kentucky Winners / 3 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champions
-The BEST drivers Love It, others FEAR It.

Winning at Kentucky Speedway is widely recognized as one of the most challenging tests of the season for both crew and driver.

What makes winning at Kentucky so challenging?
Kentucky has a number of variables that make it different than the typical mile-and-a-half. These variables create the core challenge that has become the summer showdown in the Bluegrass - the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts. First, at 74-feet wide, it's among the widest surface in NASCAR, providing multiple racing grooves and opportunities to challenge at every turn. 5-wide even 6-wide racing going into Turn 1 is common - especially on restarts and as the laps countdown.

Additionally, Kentucky banking is one of the flattest on the circuit, at just 13.6-degrees in each turn. Entry into and exit out of Turn 3 is particularly tough because of the transition from feet-to-the-floorboard down the 1,600-foot backstretch into the flat corner. Martin Truex Jr. described it as, "Turn 3 is super difficult because of the flat entry. KYS is probably the toughest one to get the car to work." It's no secret turning fast times into and out of Turn 3 is a special challenge, even for drivers and crews that turn left all season. Add to that the bumps heading into Turn 4 and you have a complex set of variables that has caused its share of casualties.

Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Joe Gibbs Racing entry, is a two-time winner at Kentucky in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series. He considers a win at Kentucky an extraordinary achievement. He summarized the prevailing sentiment amongst his team, "For us there's a lot of pride in a win at Kentucky."

In the face of these variables, it's clear the top NASCAR drivers embrace conquering Kentucky's challenges - the pack of others…not so much. Kyle Larson characterized his feelings, "Honestly, Kentucky is one of my least favorite tracks."

Does Kentucky breed champions or do champions rise to the challenge?
After the checkered flag flew at Homestead and another Sprint Cup Series Champion was crowned this year, we couldn't help but notice the relationship between winning at Kentucky and capturing the most coveted crown in NASCAR.

In the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts' 5-year history at Kentucky, only 3 drivers have found the right formula. Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski stand superior above all others with two wins each. Kyle won the inaugural Sprint Cup Series race in 2011, and won this past year. It was one of the most exciting races of the season. Of course we all now know who was crowned NASCAR king in November. Similarly, in 2012 Brad drove to victory at Kentucky, and out-distanced the rest of the field throughout the season. Matt Kenseth, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion outshined a hard-charging Jimmie Johnson in 2013 to win the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts.

At Kentucky, we believe it's no coincidence that each of our Sprint Cup Series winners are NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions. Here's the relationship between winning our NASCAR Sprint Cup race and being crowned the champion:

2011
Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts Winner: Kyle Busch
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion: Tony Stewart

2012
Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts Winner: Brad Keselowski
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion: Brad Keselowski

2013
Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts Winner: Matt Kenseth (2004 Sprint Cup Series Champion)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion: Jimmie Johnson

2014
Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts Winner: Brad Keselowski (2012 Sprint Cup Series Champion)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion: Kevin Harvick*
* Won the John R. Elliott Hero Campaign 300 presented by Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kentucky

2015
Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts Winner: Kyle Busch
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion: Kyle Busch

So which is it? Does Kentucky breed champions - or - do champions rise to the challenge at Kentucky Speedway?

-Alex Perkins-