SPARTA — Who's up and who's down after the fifth Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway:
Checkered flag: Kentucky Speedway. In the fifth running of the Sprint Cup Series in Sparta, the seemingly star-crossed Speedway finally got what it needed most: An evening when entertaining racing turned out to be the dominant story line.
With an apparent boost from NASCAR's new low-downforce package, the Sprint Cup drivers put on a boffo show over the bumpy Kentucky Speedway tri-oval. There were a track record 22 green-flag passes for the lead. The late-race battle where eventual winner Kyle Busch and Joey Logano exchanged the lead was the best stretch of Sprint Cup racing in Speedway history.
Overall, according to NASCAR, there were 2,665 green flag passes throughout the entire Quaker State 400 field, compared to 1,147 last year.
Heck, there was even a Danica Patrick-Dale Earnhardt Jr. dust up.
It was a darned good show.
Black flag: Jeff Gordon. Needing victory in his final visit to Kentucky Speedway to have a win over every active Cup track, the retiring NASCAR superstar was no different than he had been in his prior four runs at Kentucky:
Solid, but never a threat to win.
Gordon finished seventh, and (presumably) ends his Kentucky Speedway career having run in the Top 10 in all five Cup races here without ever leading a lap.
Checkered flag: Joe Gibbs Racing. Racing just up the road from Toyota's Georgetown manufacturing plant, the flagship Toyota Sprint Cup team produced a tour de force. JGR drivers finished first (Kyle Busch), third (Denny Hamlin), fourth (Carl Edwards) and fifth (Matt Kenseth).
"As everybody knows, our big Camry center is here in Kentucky, at Georgetown," said Joe Gibbs, the former Washington Redskins coach, afterwards. "A lot of our Toyota people were here. We really appreciate them."
Black flag: Brad Keselowski's pit crew. The No. 2 Miller Lite Ford appeared to be the one car Saturday night that was the match for, maybe even superior to, the No. 18 Camry of Kyle Busch.
Yet Keselowski's night was foiled by one slow pit stop after another. At various times in the race, Keselowski came out of the pits and drove from 13 up to 2, from 18 to 3, from 10 to 4 and from 15 to 3.
By the end of the race, all that having to drive through traffic seemed to have taken a toll on the No. 2, which finished sixth.
"It's easy to play the Saturday evening quarterback, but it didn't come together for us," Keselowski said. "There are certainly some things I could have done better and we didn't have the best day on pit road. ... I thought Kyle and I both had pretty good cars and we just didn't put it all together when it counted."
Over the last five years, Keselowski has an odd-year/even-year pattern working at Kentucky. In the odds years, 2011, '13 and this year, he has won the Xfinity Series here while in the even years, 2012 and '14, he won the Sprint Cup event.
Checkered flag: Kyle Busch. By earning his second Cup win in Sparta in dominating fashion, "Rowdy" re-established his claim to Kentucky Speedway superiority. In all-time Cup laps led at Kentucky Speedway, Busch now has 437 compared to Keselowski (who led 62 laps Saturday night) with 398.
Amazingly, those two have now led 62.5 percent of the Sprint Cup laps run at Kentucky Speedway.
Black flag: Chevrolet. Having won every Sprint Cup manufacturer's championship since 2003, Chevy has gone 0-for-5 in race wins so far at Kentucky.
Checkered flag: Crosley Brands. This year, Kentucky Speedway started awarding its race winners jukeboxes produced by the Louisville-based Crosley.
The drivers loved them.
Keselowski, who won a CR1206A model (retail of $1,799.95) for winning the Xfinity race proclaimed the jukebox "cool as hell." His girlfriend, Paige White, tweeted to Kentucky Speedway, "The jukebox is awesome."
For taking the Sprint Cup race, Kyle Busch won the larger Crosley Slimline Jukebox (retail cost: $8,999.95). He said he was hoping the Beach Boys' Little Deuce Coupe would be on it. "And maybe some fresher stuff we could have fun with, too," he said.
Having a reward for winning at your track that the drivers are genuinely excited about is not a small thing.
With the Crosley jukeboxes, Kentucky Speedway seems to have hit on a winner.