SPARTA, Ky-- Before and after the Alsco 300, Kentucky Speedway, and NASCAR deemed it necessary to run the tire dragon in the middle groove, after complaints from the drivers.

 

Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney are two of the handful of drivers that will run in tonight’s Quaker State 400 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

 

“When I lost the lead on that last restart - when I slid up in three I didn’t wreck and I think I would have wrecked if the Tire Dragon wasn’t brought out. I was up in that third lane. I think that kind of saved me a little bit. I thought that was good. I saw that move made a couple times in the Truck race and people spun out. I didn’t see that today. I saw a lot of cars get loose and slide up to that lane and it kind of caught halfway and they were able to keep going,” said Blaney, who finished second in the Alsco 300. “Hopefully that will help out. I ran kind of high in one and two coming back through the field and it seemed to have some grip like half a lane up. It didn’t hurt at all getting that Tire Dragon out this morning. Hopefully tonight the Cup cars will get really slick on the bottom and we will be forced to move around. That is usually what happens and I am hopeful for that.”

 

“Yeah, until they oil down the backstretch and that lane getting into turn three, I thought the track was really racey. Hopefully they can burn that in a little bit more down the backstretch and that quick dry that they put down in order to take up some of that oil, they can burn that off and get it back to black instead of white. After that, it got to being about one groove again and I didn’t see anybody widening it out,” said Kyle Busch, Also 300 race winner. “You were afraid to get into the white stuff because the car will just take off up the race track on you. The other thing I saw was the race track was really good in one and two, it got really wide and definitely nothing out there to race in, but at least it’s safe if you do slip and get out there and you can still catch your car. There’s room for lapped cars to go out there and not feel that they’re going to crash. They were pretty mindful of the leaders today and we’ll see how all that goes tonight.

 

Running the tire dragon in the middle groove of the racetrack is reversal from Thursday afternoon!

 

"I think we know what we're doing," Steve Swift told NBC Sports in a Thursday interview.

 

The vice president of operations and development for Speedway Motorsports Inc. said they ran the tire dragon here at Kentucky Speedway after an overwhelming positive response from driver’s after the 2016 event.

 

"I think what a lot of drivers are forgetting is this track was resurfaced," Swift said. "It's a brand new racetrack. So on a new track, you have to put rubber down in what is the groove, not what you want the groove to be."

 

Track officials plan to run an eight-foot-side section in the middle of the turns, working upwards.

SPARTA, Ky-- For Kyle Busch, 700 miles of racing will ensue on Saturday from Kentucky Speedway.

 

With the postponement of the NASCAR Xfintiy Series Also 300, Busch, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Kevin Harvick, and Ty Dillon are also slated to run in the Alsco 300.

 

“It’s going to be challenging and especially during the day. We weren’t anticipating a day race so that’s going to make for a crazy event, that’s for sure,” said Busch.

 

Because teams were unable to get practice sessions in on Thursday, teams practiced at 8:30 p.m. EDT this morning.

 

“We practiced early this morning and I felt like it was a really good practice session for what we needed to do at night because the track was cool and it wasn’t hot and heated up like it was later on this afternoon,” said Busch. “Qualifying was a handful, it was way different than what we had all this morning in practice so that’s going to make it a handful tomorrow. Who’s going to be the best guy to adjust all that for having a fast car and making sure their car sticks well is going to win.”

 

For drivers pulling double-duty, preparation for afternoon and evening conditions begin tonight.

 

“It’s going to be tough for sure. I’m not exactly sure how to handle it yet, but it’s certainly not the circumstances I would have liked to have been in, but we got what we got and I’ll try to prepare as best as I can tonight and get as many fluids as I can tonight and then make sure you keep drinking and keep the fluids going for tomorrow,” said Ky. Busch. “It’s just a matter of making sure you don’t get yourself too dehydrated and start to cramp up and things like that. It’s going to make for a long day for sure if it’s going to be 95 degrees and hot and sunny during the first one and it will make the second one at night a little better. Still going to be a long, long day.”

 

Temperatures for the Also 300 are slated to be in the mid-70s, while the Quaker State 400 temperature is slated to be in the mid-to-upper 70s.

 

Green flag for the Alsco 300 is schedule to fly shortly after 12:00 p.m. EDT and the green flag for the Quaker State 400 is slated for 7:45 p.m. EDT.

SPARTA, Ky.— Kyle Busch will start from the pole in the Quaker State 400 from Kentucky Speedway after setting the track record.

The first round of qualifying saw Kyle Larson unable to make a lap in the session due to his failing of the Laser Inspection System.  Chase Elliott was fastest at 189.434 mph. Matt Kenseth was second fastest at 189.029 mph. Kasey Kahne was third fastest at 188.904 mph. Jimmie Johnson was fourth fastest at 188.646 mph. Joey Logano rounded out the top-five at 188.646 mph. Notable drivers who did not advance to the second round of qualifying include Austin Dillon (P25), Ryan Newman (P31), and Larson (P40). All drivers will make the field.

In the second round of qualifying, Ky. Busch was fastest at 190.282 mph. Martin Truex Jr. was second fastest at 190.194 mph. Matt Kenseth was third fastest at 189.740 mph. Jamie McMurray was fourth fastest at 189.713 mph. Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five at 189.687 mph. Notable drivers who did not advance include Dale Earnhardt Jr (P13), Kurt Busch (P15), and Ricky Stenhouse Jr (P18).

The third round of qualifying was about to begin, but as the rains approached the speedway, qualifying was deemed complete.

SPARTA, Ky.— After winning the 2014 Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has become a prominent voice on social media.

 

Earnhardt Jr. uses Periscope after every race to interact with fans no matter how great or terrible his race was just hours prior. He uses Twitter on a regular basis to interact with fans and to answer their questions.

 

“Social media, I really have to hold back sometimes. I could do a Periscope everyday. I enjoy social media. I don’t want to be the guy on there too much. I am eager to do it. I love the sarcasm. You get to know everyone so much better because we really don’t have time to spend with each other. Social media is so funny,” said Earnhardt Jr.

 

How does Earnhardt Jr approach social media?

“I use Twitter as a message board just to goof around and laugh, have fun, and see what everyone else is asking about. I use Instagram as more of a story telling with pictures and videos. It’s a blast. I have enjoyed it a lot,” said Earnhardt Jr.

 

If you don’t already, you can follow Earnhardt Jr on Twitter and Instagram @DaleJr.

SPARTA, Ky.— As silly season has ramped up in NASCAR, Matt Kenseth’s name has been brought up as a driver who could leave his current organization, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR).

 

"As of today, I do not have a job for next year," Kenseth stated Friday morning in his media availability. "I don't think I'll have the option to race at JGR next year.”

 

The statement from Kenseth confirmed rumors around the garage that Kenseth would be leaving JGR and racing for a different organization come 2018.

 

Who replaces Kenseth in the No. 20 Toyota Camry? That person could potentially be Erik Jones. When Jones was signed on at Furniture Row Racing for 2017, Joe Gibbs was adamant that the deal with Jones and Barney Visser was for one year only.

 

Just yesterday, Jones was unable to comment on what his plans for 2018 are:

 

“I’m just driving. For the most part, for me, whether – I don’t know where I’m going to be yet. They haven’t let me know. For me, I’ve been really happy at Furniture Row (Racing) and it’s been a steady group of guys over there that I think work really well together,” said Jones. “I don’t yet. Hopefully I know soon. You know it’s kind of getting down to that point. I guess it’s July now, so I’m sure we’ll have an answer here soon.”

 

Where will Kenseth land? How many years does Kenseth have left? The speculation is that Kenseth would be replacing Dale Earnhardt, Jr in the No. 88 at Hendrick Motorsports as a placeholder for William Byron in 2019. If Jones is leaving Furniture Row for JGR, Kenseth could potentially move to the No. 77 Toyota Camry.

 

When asked if it was a possibility, Kenseth stated, “I probably already said too much about what I’m not doing next year, so I don’t really have anything to talk about what I am doing at this point. At this point, I don’t have anything going on next year and am trying to get focused on running better and winning races.”

 

Despite the rumors and looking for a ride, Kenseth is focused on his performance in 2017.

 

“It’s been a slow start,” Kenseth said. “It has not been a good year at all. I just want to try to get back to victory lane and qualify for the playoffs and have a shot at the championship.

 

The landscape of JGR has changed over the past two years. With the vanishing of Carl Edwards, Daniel Suarez was brought up from the Xfinity Series, although most people suspected it would be Jones before Suarez at JGR.

 

With the comments from Kenseth, the domino about silly season is about to fall.