If you are planning on going to the Kentucky Speedway this weekend for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, then you will want to know what time the race starts and when is the best time to arrive at the track. Finding the right trackside seat for the first race of the season is always a good idea, and this year is no different. One of the things that make the Kentucky Speedway so special is that the starting line and the checkered flag are in the same place. This makes it easy for both starters and fans to celebrate together!
The general rule is that the first race of the season is usually one of the highlights of the year, and it is not uncommon for people to spend the whole day before the race just waiting for the big reveal. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be racing at the Kentucky Speedway this Sunday, March 10th, with the AAA 400. Let’s take a quick look at what time the race starts and when is the best time to arrive at the track to get a good seat.
What Time Does The Race Start?
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be starting at 3:00 p.m. local time on Sunday, March 10th, so you will want to make sure you get your spot in line before then. Luckily, you can do this online through the Monster Energy website if you haven’t gotten your ticket yet. There is also a good chance that tickets will be on sale at the track on Friday, so it’s worth getting in line early if you want to ensure you get one.
When Is The Best Time To Arrive At The Track?
The best time to arrive at the track is Friday morning, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., if you want to get a good spot. This is because the parking lot will be full at noon on race day, and there will be very little chance of finding a spot. Another good time to arrive at the track is between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., if you don’t want to rush. Again, this is because the parking lot will be at capacity by the time the gates open for the pre-race festivities, and there won’t be any more spots available once the track is packed. It’s also a good idea to arrive at the track an hour or two early, to ensure you get a good parking spot. Finally, if you want to catch some Nascar before the big race, then the early bird will get the worm. Therefore, it’s best to show up at the track before noon on Sunday, March 10th, if you want to get a good spot for the race.
Who Are The Main Contestants?
There are five main drivers who will be battling it out at the Kentucky Speedway this coming Sunday, March 10th. Of the five, four of them are former winners of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, including the defending champion, Denny Hamlin. The five main drivers will be:
- Denny Hamlin
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kevin Harvick
- Joey Logano
- Ryan Blaney
- A.J. Allmendinger
Hamlin won the 2016 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship after posting seven wins, and followed that up with another seven wins in 2017. In addition to his seven-win streak, Hamlin also had a pair of third-place finishes and one second-place finish last year. Johnson has been one of the most consistent drivers over the last decade, winning 11 races in 2014 and finishing in the top five in points each year since then. Harvick and Logano, two of NASCAR’s biggest stars, have both won several races in the last year. Harvick won four times and finished in the top five in points each year since 2015, and Logano won seven times last year and also led the pack in points. Finally, Blaney, who was the last driver to beat Hamlin in the 2016 title race, won three times last year. Blaney’s success made him the most popular of the five drivers mentioned above, and he now has more than 100,000 Twitter followers. This week, he tweeted, “Looking forward to getting in the car and putting my skills to the test at the #KysticSpeedway this weekend. Can’t wait to get started.” Allmendinger, who was a member of the famed Ganassi racing team, posted nine top-five finishes and 13 top-10 finishes in 31 starts last year, but had his best season yet, finishing 12th in the points standings.
These are the drivers that you will be seeing in the fight for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup this coming Sunday. As mentioned earlier, four of the five are former Cup Series champions, which makes this year’s edition of the ‘Race To The Punch’ interesting to say the least. Furthermore, this year is also the first for the Allmendinger name, since he retired from full-time driving after the 2009 season. It will be interesting to see how he performs this coming Sunday, especially since he has never driven a restrictor-plate race, which is what the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is this year. He has only competed in the non-points races, since then. Last but not least, it should be noted that all of the drivers above are very popular on social media, with the possible exception of Hamlin, who has about 40,000 more followers than any of his four competition mates combined. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how this group performs this year, especially since they have never raced together, so there is a complete lack of racing experience among them. Let’s take a look at how the first four NASCAR Cup Series races this season have gone:
First Of Four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Races
Last year, for the first four races of the season, the defending champion, Denny Hamlin, won twice, which was good for first place in the season-opening race and second in the next three. As a result of his two wins in 2018, Hamlin was the early favorite this year, with some early betting markets listing him as the favorite. However, in the end, it was Joey Logano, not Hamlin, who won the season-opening race in 2019, as well as the next three. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how this year’s early favorite, Hamlin, does in comparison to last year’s winner, Logano. First off, let’s take a quick look at how Hamlin did in the previous three seasons:
In his first season without Chase Elliott, who he teamed up with to win the 2018 Championship, Denny Hamlin won the season-opener at Phoenix and finished second in both the next two. This was due, in part, to a four-race winning streak from April through August, where he finished second, third, second, and third. Hamlin finished 10th in the points standings with three top-five and six top-10 finishes, and had the third-best average finish of all drivers who tallied 25+ starts (3.8).
Denny Hamlin followed up his 2018 Championship with a more dominant performance in 2017. In fact, he won six of the first eight races this year, including the season-opener at Phoenix. In the next two races (Cleveland and Homestead), Hamlin led every lap and won by a comfortable margin. In addition to his six wins, Hamlin also had a pair of third-place finishes and finished 11th in the points standings. Interestingly, before these six wins, Hamlin had only four top-10 finishes in his previous 38 races. It was evident that the team focused heavily on track conditioning and preparedness, as evidenced by Hamlin’s 11th-place finish in the 2016 standings (his best ever).
It took Denny Hamlin all of 2015 to win his first NASCAR Cup Series race. After four straight top-five and nine top-10 finishes, Hamlin finally broke through for his first NASCAR Cup Series win in the season-opener at Phoenix. He followed this up with another win three weeks later at Richmond, and then won again at Martinsville in the final race of the season. In the process, Hamlin became the first driver to win back-to-back championships since Jimmie Johnson in 2007-2008, and finished eighth in the points standings. Before this 2016 season, Hamlin had only recorded one top-five and four top-10 finishes in his previous 38 races. His win total could have been higher, as he finished second at Talladega in October, which was halted by a five-car accident that sidelined him for the rest of the race.