Here are the projections for Saturday's Sprint Cup race at Kentucky. Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, prerace on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race. All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a 1.5-mile D-oval) and time of year.
There isn't much of a sample size to analyze with just three total Cup races held at Kentucky. However, those races, combined with this week’s on-track activity, provide enough information to project the field. A few cars in particular should put some pressure on the rest of the pack:
Brad Keselowski is projected to have the fastest car and lead the most laps. After winning and finishing seventh in the first two races here, an early exit last year robs Keselowski of the projected top spot. He’s proven to have the car to beat so far this week, as he’s finished second, first and first in prerace workouts.
Defending race winner Matt Kenseth holds Kentucky’s best all-time average finish (4.7), having never finished outside the top seven.
Kyle Busch won the first NSCS Kentucky race, has never finished outside the top 10 here and has won in all three NASCAR National Touring Series at the track.
No driver has led more laps on 1.5-mile tracks, which make up a large part of the season’s schedule, than Kevin Harvick.
However, Harvick is winless in those races this season, with a 21.8 average finish.
He does appear to be turning it around: after finishing 41st and 42nd on the first two 1.5-mile tracks this season, he’s finished second in each of the last two.