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Staff picks for tonight’s Cup race at Kentucky Speedway

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Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win tonight’s Cup race at Kentucky Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Nate Ryan

Martin Truex Jr. picks up where he left off last season at Kentucky (though with less than the 15-second lead he held before the last restart).

Dustin Long

Martin Truex Jr. makes it two in a row at Kentucky.

Daniel McFadin

Four of seven Kentucky races have been won from the front row. Erik Jones adds to that number with his second consecutive win.

Dan Beaver

Kyle Busch thrives on controversy. That is going to fuel his third consecutive win on a 1.5-mile track (and his fourth in the last five races on this track type).

Starting lineup for Quaker State 400

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Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones will start from the front row in Saturday’s Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Truex starts from the pole position for the fifth time this season.

The top five is completed by Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Martin Truex Jr. wins pole for Quaker State 400

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Martin Truex Jr. won the pole for Saturday’s Cup race at Kentucky Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN), claiming his series-best fourth pole of the season.

Truex, the defending winner of the Quaker State 400, posted a top speed of 188.890 mph. It’s his 19th career pole.

He is joined on the front row by Erik Jones (188.739 mph), who is coming off his first career Cup win last week.

The top five is completed by Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.

“It’s Turn 3, man. That sucker will get you every time,” Truex told NBCSN. “If you want to go fast you’ve got to put it on the edge. I’m talkin’ a half a MPH going into (Turn) 3 from over rolling the speed and just missing the bottom. It’s a treacherous corner but it’s a lot of fun when you get it right.”

Austin Dillon qualified 13th and was followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Larson.

Larson has started 11th or worse in seven of the last nine races.

Bubba Wallace qualified 25th followed by AJ Allmendinger and Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson has started 27th or worse four times this season.

Four drivers, including Denny Hamlin, Jesse Little, Timmy Hill and Matt DiBenedetto, did not make qualifying attempts after their cars failed to pass inspection in time.

Click here for the starting lineup.

NASCAR’s weekend schedule for Kentucky Speedway

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NASCAR heads to Kentucky Speedway this weekend with all three of its national series.

The weekend is capped off by the Cup Series’ Quaker State 400 on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

It is preceded by the Xfinity Series on Friday night (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN) and the Camping World Truck Series on Thursday.

Here’s the full schedule with TV and radio info.

All times are Eastern.

Thursday, July 12

7 a.m. – Truck garage opens

9:05 – 9:55 a.m. – First Truck practice (No TV)

11:05 – 11:55 a.m. – Final Truck practice (No TV)

1 – 9 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

4:05 – 4:50 p.m. – First Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

5:10 p.m. – Truck qualifying; single truck/two rounds (Fox Sports 1)

6 p.m. – Truck driver-crew chief meeting

7 p.m. – Truck driver introductions

6:05 – 6:50 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

7:30 p.m. – Truck Series Buckle Up in Your Truck 225; 150 laps/225 miles (Fox Sports 1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Friday, July 13

9 a.m. – 10 p.m. – Cup garage open

Noon – Xfinity garage opens

Noon – 12:50 p.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN)

2 – 2:50 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN)

5:05 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (NBCSN)

6:15 p.m. – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting

6:40 p.m. – Cup qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

7:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

8 p.m. – Xfinity Alsco 300; 200 laps/300 miles (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Saturday, July 14

2 p.m. – Cup garage opens

5:30 p.m. – Driver-crew chief meeting

6:50 p.m. – Driver introductions

7:30 p.m. – Quaker State 400; 267 laps/400.5 mils (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

Jesse Little set for Cup debut at Kentucky with Premium Motorsports

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Jesse Little, son of former Cup driver Chad Little, will make his Cup Series debut Saturday at Kentucky Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN), driving Premium Motorsports’ No. 7 Chevrolet.

Little, 21, has 18 starts in the Camping World Truck Series since 2015. His best result is sixth earlier this season at Iowa Speedway.

“I’m very humbled by this opportunity to make my Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut this weekend at Kentucky,” Little said in a press release. “There’s no expectations for Saturday night’s race other than to take the green flag and see the checkered flag. I would like to thank (owner) Jay Robinson for giving me the opportunity to gain valuable experience behind the wheel.”

Little will be the sixth driver to pilot the No. 7 this season, joining Danica Patrick, Reed Sorenson, J.J. Yeley, DJ Kennington and Jeffrey Earnhardt. Earnhardt delivered the team its best result last weekend at Daytona, finishing 11th.

Chad Little made 217 Cup starts between 1986 and 2002. He is NASCAR’s managing director for technical inspection and officiating.