2020 NASCAR Cup Series preview: Kentucky

The NASCAR Cup Series closes out the racing weekend with a 400-mile event at Kentucky Speedway Sunday afternoon. 

Kentucky Speedway will serve as the sixth consecutive Cup Series race in high-downforce conditions dating back to Homestead-Miami Speedway on June 14. 

Kyle Busch will start on the pole for Sunday’s race. While Busch collected four victories up to the Kentucky race last season (July 13, 2019), the 35-year-old for Joe Gibbs Racing has yet to collect a victory or stage win this season. Over his last seven races, Busch’s finishes have ranged from second (June 7 at Atlanta) to 38th (June 28 at Pocono). Busch currently sits 10th in the points standings (461). His average finish of 4.7 at Kentucky leads all active Cup drivers. 

Kevin Harvick currently leads the field in points (637), laps led (640) and top-10 finishes (13). The No. 4 for Stewart-Haas Racing has finished first, second and first over his last three races respectively. It is the 44-year-old’s best three-race stretch since he finished first in three consecutive races from February 25 to March 11 (Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix) in 2018. Harvick will start third. 

Denny Hamlin was on pace to win at Indianapolis last weekend before he slammed into the wall in turn one after cutting a right-front tire. In nine career races at Kentucky, the 39-year-old’s best finish is third (2012 and 2015). Hamlin will start 12th

Brad Keselowski leads all active Cup drivers in wins at Kentucky (three). However, the 36-year-old’s last victory at the track came on July 9, 2016. Since then, the No. 2 Ford for Team Penske has finished 39th, third and 20th. Keselowski will start sixth. 

Kurt Busch won last year’s installment at the Kentucky oval. He currently sits 11th in the point standings and is only four points behind his brother, Kyle. Coming into Sunday’s race, the 41-year-old for Chip Ganassi Racing has started inside the top 10 in the past six races. However, Kurt has only finished in the top 10 in two of those six races (ninth at Martinsville and Talladega). He will start seventh. 

Jimmie Johnson will be back behind the wheel of the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday. Johnson returns after Justin Allgaier subbed for the 44-year-old last weekend due to Johnson testing positive for COVID-19. However, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion was cleared to return after two tests afterward came back negative. Johnson will start 20th

Stages for Sunday’s race end on lap 80, lap 160 and the finish on lap 267. A competition caution will be thrown on lap 20.

TV coverage for the race will begin at 2:30 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 1. The Performance Racing Network will carry radio coverage.

Starting lineup: 

Pit stall assignments:

Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2020/07/07/goodyear-fast-facts-kentucky-3/

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