Root for the home team
With Owensboro native Michael Waltrip out of the race, here are some other Kentucky ties in the event:
Car owner Jack Roush (whose Roush Fenway team fields cars for Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and David Ragan) is a native of Covington and a graduate of Berea College.
Ex-University of Kentucky defensive tackle Mark Jacobs is the jack man for Juan Pablo Montoya.
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Some others: Loren Ranier, Jamie McMurray's spotter, is from Prestonsburg (and is the son of legendary NASCAR car owner Harry Ranier, who owned three cars that won the Daytona 500).
Whitesburg's J.D. Holcomb is a front-tire carrier for Kevin Harvick's No. 29 team. Root for the biggest college hoops fan?
There is at least one driver in the Quaker State 400 who loves college basketball as much as most Kentuckians. Jeff Burton even has season tickets — in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Yep, Duke fan.
Do you hold that against the personable driver of the No. 31 car?
Of course you do.
Lucky No. 11 1?
Dale Earnhardt Jr., the Crown Prince of NASCAR, will race at Kentucky for the first time mired in a 110-race Cup winless streak. The Junior Nation has not celebrated a victory since Earnhardt Jr. won at Michigan on June 15, 2008.
Secretly, you can bet that Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger and his staff are rooting for Junior to end the drought in Sparta. Can you imagine the national publicity bonanza the Speedway would reap if Earnhardt Jr. broke through in Kentucky?
Either way, at least on a mile-and-a-half track like in Sparta, Earnhardt Jr. won't have to worry about the "pairs stock-car racing" he so loathes. That type of drafting only applies at restrictor-plate tracks Daytona and Talladega.Defying 'good ol' boy' stereotypes
Ryan Newman has an engineering degree from Purdue.
Brad Keselowski's favorite book is The Great Gatsby.
Brian Vickers learned the art of trapeze for fun at Trapeze School New York in June.
A gift from dad
Greg Biffle will be racing three days after his wife, Nicole, gave birth to their first child: Emma Elizabeth Biffle (7 pounds, six ounces). Can the Biff give his baby the present of a victory at Kentucky?