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What to watch for: Kentucky

Gibbs Still Looking for a Win

Last season, Joe Gibbs Racing led all teams with 12 NASCAR Cup Series wins (in 36 races), this year, we're 17 races into the season and still waiting for JGR's 1st win. Gibbs hasn't gone more than 17 races before winning its first race in a season since 2004, when it only won 2 races all season, and was just a 2-car team. Gibbs now runs 4 cars.

With 10 drivers having all but clinched playoff spots already with wins (Joey Logano, an 11th winner this year, won't have his win count towards playoff consideration due to rules violations), it puts the Gibbs cars in a tough position to make the playoffs. 3 of them are in position to do so, but only Kyle Busch is comfortably above the cutoff.

But Kentucky could be a place for Gibbs to pick up that first win. Busch and Kenseth have combined to win 3 of the 6 Cup Series races run there, and the 2 have the best average finish in the track's brief history.

Truex Jr. Looks to Add More Playoff Points

Nobody has taken advantage of NASCAR's new stage racing format than Martin Truex Jr. The new format, which splits the race into 3 stages, and awards points after the first 2, including a playoff point to the stage winner, was made to increase competition in the early part of the race.

Truex leads all drivers with 11 stage wins (nobody else has more than 4), which combined with his 2 race wins this season, gives him a series-high 21 playoff points.

Now we're heading to Truex's bread and butter, a 1.5-mile track in Kentucky. Over the last 2 seasons, Truex has won 4 races on 1.5-mile tracks, including 2 of the 5 this season, and has blown away the field in terms of the number of laps he's led.

Brad's in His Old Kentucky Home

There's been 6 NASCAR Cup Series races at Kentucky, and Brad Keselowski has won half of them, taking the checkered flag in 2012, 2014 and 2016. There's only 2 active tracks on the Cup schedule that have seen a driver win 3 of the first 6 races hosted, that's Kentucky and Dover, where "King" Richard Petty won 3 of the first 6 from 1969-72.

If Keselowski wins, he'll become just the 5th driver to win at least 4 of the first 7 races a track has hosted in series history, and the first to do it on a track that's still active.

William Byron Looks for an XFINITY Series First

2 weeks ago, 19-year-old William Byron picked up his 1st career XFINITY Series win at Iowa. Last week, he followed it up with a 2nd straight win at Daytona. This week at Kentucky, Byron will attempt to become the first driver in series history to pick up his 1st 3 wins in 3 consecutive starts.

Byron is driving the No. 9 car that Chase Elliott drove to a championship in 2014, his rookie season in the series, for the Dale Earnhardt Jr.-owned JR Motorsports. The team is an affiliate of Hendrick Motorsports, which could put Byron in the discussion to replace Earnhardt Jr. next seasons in the Cup Series.

Who's Hot and Who's Not - Kentucky Edition

HOT
• Brad Keselowski: won 3 of 6 Kentucky races in Cup Series history
• Matt Kenseth: only driver with a top-10 finish in all 6 Kentucky races (finished 8th or better in all 6 with win in 2013)
• Kyle Busch: 2 wins, 5.2 Avg finish at Kentucky is tied for best among all drivers

NOT
• Kevin Harvick: only active Cup Series track where he's never had a top-5 finish; does have 4 top-10 finishes in 6 races
• Jimmie Johnson: 1 of 3 active Cup Series tracks where he's never won; streak of 5 straight top-10 finishes at Kentucky was ended by wreck last year
• Martin Truex Jr.: never finished better than 7th in 6 Kentucky races (10th or worse in last 3 years)

--- ESPN Stats & Info ---