1. Jimmie Johnson – Starts 1st – Yahoo! A Driver
Jimmie Johnson started the week as my #1 ranked driver and he remains my favorite to win the Quaker State 400. Last year at Kentucky Johnson finished 3rd and had the second best driver rating (119.8). In practice Jimmie Johnson had a good car. He ran 63 laps and had the 5th best average practice speed. In Happy Hour he had the second best 10 lap average speed. Perhaps the biggest advantage Jimmie Johnson has in this race is his starting position. Passing is difficult at Kentucky and he’ll be starting up front. He’ll also have the best pit box on pit road. Johnson has been an elite performer on 1.5 mile tracks this season. He has a 4.5 average finish, 5.3 average running position and a worst finish of 11th (pit stop problems at Charlotte)
2. Kyle Busch – Starts 2nd – Yahoo! A Driver
Kyle Busch is the defending champion of the Kentucky Quaker State 400. Last year he started on the pole, led 125 laps, had a second place average running position and a near perfect 145.6 driver rating. In practice Kyle Busch really liked his car. He said it felt like it drove right where they left off last year. If that’s the case he’ll be very dangerous in this race. Last year when he was leading he was untouchable. My only concern about Kyle Busch is that he’s had lots of problems lately. He’s had engine related DNF’s in three out of the last four races.
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Starts 7th – Yahoo! B Driver
I think Dale Earnhardt Jr. is feeling very good about his chances to win the Quaker State 400. He was strong in practice and I’m pretty sure he exclusively worked on race runs. Also during the practice telecast Chad Knaus told Jimmie Johnson over the radio that “Jimmie needed to be as quick as the #88″. I couldn’t think of a better endorsement. In practice Junior ran 70 laps and had the best average speed of 171.569 MPH. Only four other drivers had an average speed above 171 MPH. On 1.5 mile tracks this season Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been very good. He’s finished in the top ten every race and has an 8.8 average running position.