Track Talk: Quaker State 400 at Kentucky

As a race that goes from evening to night, the Quaker State 400 can throw curveballs to the best of NASCAR.

As a race that goes from evening to night, the Quaker State 400 can throw curveballs to the best of NASCAR.

Each weekend, our panel provides their thoughts on the latest stories in NASCAR while predicting the winner of the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, the upcoming Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race!

This weekend, our panelists Adam LucasAshley Hobbs, Ashley Hull, Christina Bowman, Cody ShoppeJose Acero JrKathleen CassidyKatie CoppleKayla Sturm, and Stephen Conley debate about Justin Haley’s heartbreaking moment at Daytona and the potential for Chevrolet to win at Kentucky.

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Question 1
Did Justin Haley cross the line at Daytona?

Did Justin Haley cross the line at Daytona?

Justin Haley tried to make a bold move to win the XFINITY race at Daytona last Friday night before NASCAR penalized him for going below the double yellow line.  Should there be some leniency with this rule or did NASCAR make the right call in this situation?

Acero :  The rule should be if both left sides are completely past the double yellow, then yes, it’s a penalty. If not, then no harm, no foul.

Bowman :  NASCAR really can’t be lenient when it comes to the rules they set. They can however, review the stipulations for if a car is ‘pushed’ below the double yellow. Or they could look into possibly eliminating the rule on the final lap of a race. This seems to be an issue at least once a year so it might be worth looking into for the future.

Cassidy :  Rules are set for a reason. I believe NASCAR needs to be strict on following the rules they have set or they need to remove them. Over the years there has been backlash from fans for both cases of following rules or neglecting them. Consistency in calls is key.

Conley :  I completely think NASCAR missed this one. Yes, he was two inches past that inside yellow line, which is the official out of bounds. But at the same point in time, it’s clear in the video that when Hayley moved further left, it was at the same time Sadler was moving down.

If Haley doesn’t go to where he was, or move a little lower, than we are talking about the leaders wadded up at the line. This could have been an amazing story of a young driver making an amazing move to win at Daytona. Instead, it’s about the officials. Yes, we want consistency, but in all the “consistency” at the start/finish line, they missed the fact Elliott Sadler was below the yellow line on the backstretch coming to the checkers trying to break the draft.

Copple :  Leniency, in my opinion, means picking and choosing. That’s not okay in competitive, professional sports. If the rule states that a driver cannot advance his position below the yellow line, then that’s the rule and the driver can and should be penalized. But that being said, NASCAR should reevaluate the rule. Especially when it comes to a track like Daytona and in the closing lap.

I’m 100% behind NASCAR on their call, even if it did strip a young driver of his first major win. It’s upsetting and disheartening, but the rule is there for a reason. It needed to be enforced.

Hobbs : Leniency; no. Re-evaluation of the rule, perhaps. NASCAR has the rule and they enforced it. You cannot pick and choose which rules you want to follow or not. Does it suck for Haley, and every other driver this has been called on? Absolutely. But, as they said in the broadcast, the drivers wanted this rule (back in the day), and if they no longer want it, they need to be the ones to make the change.  

Hull :  This is tough. There is a reason why they have a yellow line rule. It gives drivers an unfair advantage. They just need to continue to be consistent about enforcing their rules. They have to be kind of like a strict parent; stay firm even though their kids or participants won’t be happy.

Lucas : It’s time for NASCAR to take into consideration that it may need to adopt a driver steward position for incidents like this. There could be a lack of empathy by racing officials compared to someone who has actually experienced a racing situation like what happened Friday night.

Formula One has had this in place for several seasons and it has been mostly controversy-free. For my take on the penalty, the rule was enforced correctly for the situation. NASCAR has learned from its past i.e. Dale Jr at Talladega in 2003 & Regan Smith also at Talladega in 2008. Dale benefited from a lack of enforcement, while Smith and now Haley have felt the effect of the penalty.

Shoppe :  I understand rules are rules but I really think this was the wrong call. Each time we have seen this rule change the outcome of a finish at a plate race it is disappointing and in my opinion bad for our sport. I think this rule needs to be evaluated as far as if it should be more lenient on the last lap coming to the line.

Looking back at the 2008 Talladega finish where Regan Smith lost the race in similar fashion to Haley, as well as the 2009 Dega race where Keselowski caused a huge accident making sure he didn’t suffer the same fate as Smith. These all could have been avoided if this rule was amended but i’m not sure there’s an easy answer for a solution.

Sturm :  I absolutely think NASCAR could have been lenient on this. For one, the rulebook isn’t readily available so people weren’t exactly sure what the rule was. Two, the rule isn’t clear. “Advance your position.”

What does that mean? Does that mean secure the lead? Does that mean being a nose ahead? This is where the issue lies. The rule book stated that a driver couldn’t go below the yellow line to advance their position. NASCAR considers “below the yellow line” as having the left tire below the left side of the yellow inside line, from my understanding.

Haley was already the leader by the time he went below this point. This is why the phrase “advance your position” needs to be more clear. I’m not saying eliminate the rule, but it definitely needs to be re-evaluated.

Question 2
Can Chevrolet finally break through tonight at Kentucky?

Can Chevrolet finally break through tonight at Kentucky?

Heading into this weekend, a Chevrolet driver and team have yet to win a Cup race at Kentucky Speedway.  Given their middling season as a whole, might this Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 change things up for the Bowtie Brigade?

Acero :  Chevy has to catch up to the Fords and i think this is the weekend the Bowtie gets that oh so first win at Kentucky! But then there are the big three. Chevy should fare well this weekend at Kentucky.

Bowman :  That’s a tough bet. Chevy hasn’t had a super strong season as is, so to get a win at a track that eludes them would be a stroke of luck for them. Not saying that it can’t happen, however, at this point I don’t think I would feel comfortable saying confidently yes.

Cassidy :  Chevy is not having a strong season, so a win at Kentucky is doubtful.

Conley :  No way. I think Kyle Larson might be able run in the top-five. But this is another “Big Three” weekend. Maybe a Penske Ford could squeeze in there, but this is not the place Chevrolet wants to head in the hopes of breaking through.

Copple :  I am not holding my breath here. Chevrolet is struggling and the only driver out there with any potential in a Chevrolet might be Kyle Larson. Chevrolet needs to take a look at their program now and once this season wraps up and make some major changes before they can be weekly contenders again.

Hobbs : The way things are going for Chevrolet this year, no. The best Chevrolet driver is Kyle Larson, so he would be their sole shot at victory. Until the Chevrolet teams start showing more speed and competitiveness, all eyes will continue to be on Ford and Toyota.  

Hull :  I feel that Kyle Larson is the only one that has a chance. Chevy just can’t get it together this year, so it’s very unlikely that they will win this weekend.

Lucas : The only hope for Chevy being able to pull out a victory seems to be in the hands of Kyle Larson at the moment. I still think a Ford or Toyota will win Saturday night. Who would’ve thought we’d be in a bow tie winless drought?  

Shoppe : Kyle Larson has been the only Chevy driver to have a chance at a win since Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500. I think most people agree aside from him no Chevrolet has a chance at a win yet as the GM group acclimates to the new Camaro.

While I’d doubt the No. 42 will win at Kentucky, this team should be very confident in their pace as of late while all other Chevy’s are well behind them, imagine where their program could be once we see the Camaro’s find their way to the front!

Sturm :  I don’t believe so. Chevy just doesn’t have a handle on that new Camaro body yet, and Austin Dillon is still the only Chevy driver to win so far this year when he did so at a wild race in the Daytona 500. Short answer, no. I don’t think a Chevy will be able to nab the win at Kentucky.

Two laps in Kentucky might be incentive for some KFC. Before deciding between extra crispy or original, let’s review the weekend that was Daytona!
Copple survived Daytona by going with Bubba Wallace.

Copple survived Daytona by going with Bubba Wallace.

Despite a tough finish, Hobbs increased her points lead!

Despite a tough finish, Hobbs increased her points lead!

It’s the moment of truth for Track Talk. Let’s give it our all by revealing our picks to win tonight’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky!
Might one of these six result in a race winner?

Might one of these six result in a race winner?

Tiongson :  I’ve got to try and catch Hobbs.  If there’s one driver who can dominate at Kentucky, it’s Martin Truex Jr.  I look for him to be bad to the bone fast and get the job on Saturday night.

Conley :  Give him a back to back at Kentucky. Martin Truex Jr. solidifies himself in the “Big Three.”

Copple :  MTJ takes it this weekend at Kentucky.

Hull :  This track has MTJ written all over it!

Bowman :  Let’s see if Chevy can indeed break the Kentucky curse, Kyle Larson!

Acero :  Larson. Don’t ask why!

Hobbs :  Kyle Busch takes the trophy home again!

TPF Stats :  7 starts, 2 wins, 7 top 15 finishes – how can you bet against Kyle Busch?

Sturm :  Brad K normally dominates at this track, but I’ve picked him the past two weeks and he refused to give me a win. So I’m going with Kyle Busch.

Cassidy :  Bubba Wallace.

Lucas : I’m swinging at it this weekend, Kurt Busch is the next SHR driver to get a win at Kentucky Saturday night!

Shoppe :  Clint Bowyer! But let’s hope that doesn’t mean the race will be rain shortened/delayed like his other wins!

That wraps this week’s preview, race fans!  Thanks for joining us for another edition of Track Talk!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into tonight’s race and who is your favorite to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  We hope to see you at the races.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Track Talk are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes and are not indicative of TPF, the organization, and its staff.

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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