SPARTA, Ky. - The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) journey of racing on Kentucky Speedway's unique and challenging 1.5-mile tri-oval is worth the reward.

That was the message NBC Sports race analysts Jeff Burton and Kyle Petty reinforced during respective Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts media tour stops in Louisville, Ky., and Cincinnati, Ohio the past two weeks.

Petty, who won eight of the 829 NSCS races in which he competed from 1979-2008, thinks the rough racing the track produces is quickly making Kentucky's 400-mile race championship trophy one of the most coveted on the circuit.

"Drivers complain about everything, so they're going to complain about your race track being bumpy and not being this or not being that, but at the same time, they take great pride in walking away from this place as a winner. 

"When you look at Kentucky, there are a lot of mile-and-a-half racetracks, that are just mile-and-a-half racetracks.  This is a mile-and-a-half racetrack unto itself, totally different than anything else.

When you look at the Brad Keselowskis, the Kyle Busches, the Matt Kenseths, the guys that have won here, they're drivers' drivers. They make something happen. They know how to adjust their car. They know how to keep up with the racetrack. You want your name beside those guys that have won championships and are great drivers," Petty said.  

The Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts July 11 schedule slot gives the race the distinction of being final event contested on 1.5-mile track before the start of the 16-driver, 10-race, four-elimination-round Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.  

"It gives these guys an opportunity to run one more mile-and-a-half, to work on their aero package, to work on their engine combinations, to work on things like that to say, this is where we need to be going into the Chase.

"If you're not good at this race, you're not going to be good in the Chase. You're going get eliminated. We saw it last year. The guys that didn't do good at Kentucky were eliminated right off the bat. When you look at that, there's a lot of extra emphasis on coming to this race track and running good," Petty said.

Burton,  a 21-time NSCS victor who averaged a 21st-place finish in his three Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts  appearances,  will bring first-hand perspective of one of NASCAR's toughest  tracks to master to this season's NBC Sports Network broadcast.

"You know the bumps on the front straightaway and you the bump in Turn 1. Turn 3 looks wide, easy and simple, but, if you don't hit it right, it's awful. You've got to be precise. You've got to carry the right amount of speed. Too much gets you in trouble, not enough gets you in trouble. Being off the line by inches is a big cost in time.

"This is the highest form of motorsports in North America, it's supposed to be difficult. This racetrack is definitely difficult, but that's a good thing," Burton said.

He'll combine his signature candid opinions with a work ethic on which he built a 22-year NSCS driving career to work with a knowledgeable NBC Sports team that includes Dale Jarrett, Steve Letarte and Petty to bring fans a new broadcast experience.

"If you're going to be good at something, you've got to work at it. If you don't work, and you're still good at it, you would've been great if you would've worked. I'm going to work hard, I've done that my whole life.

"Without revealing any secrets, we want to bring a broadcast to the fan that will give them more access to the things they want to know about. We're working hard to bring a broadcast that has some things that are different, that are new, that are fresh and will help explain the entire race," Burton concluded.

The broadcast team provides NASCAR news and knowledge on NASCAR America Monday through Friday from 5 p.m.-5:30 p.m., Eastern on NBC Sports Network.

The Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts will provide the finale to a three-race weekend which opens with the July 9 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225 and additionally spotlights a 300-mile NASCAR XFINITY Series race July 10.

Ticket and camping packages, single-race tickets and infield Fan Zone passes are on sale now and can be purchased at www.kentuckyspeedway.com, by calling (859) 578-2300 or by visiting the Kentucky Speedway ticket office at 1 Speedway Boulevard in Sparta, Ky., off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N.  

- Kentucky Speedway -