WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
The only driver on a bigger winning run than Joe Gibbs Racing driver and grandosn Ty Gibbs is Chandler Smith.
But Smith, who won his ninth career ARCA Menards Series start, will be focused Saturday on the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. He will cede the seat in the No. 20 Craftsman Toyota for Venturini Motorsports to Ryan Repko for the Kentucky race. Repko, 20, from Denver, North Carolina, finished second at Talladega Superspeedway in his most recent race and is the only Venturini driver yet to visit Victory Lane this season.
Smith has a pair of wins and his Venturini teammates Michael Self and Drew Dollar each have a win apiece and sit first and third, respectively, in the championship standings.
The only non-Venturini winner? Gibbs at Pocono.
Gibbs also has an ARCA Menards Series East win at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway this season, and a third-place run at Phoenix Raceway and Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway.
Going back to Sept. 14 at Indiana’s Salem Speedway, Gibbs has five wins and two thirds in nine starts across the ARCA Menards, East and West series. His only two outliers are a pair of 15th-place finishes at Lucas Oil — last week because of mechanical issues and last fall when he was taken out while leading the race.
Self, who has led the standings since a season-opening win at Daytona International Speedway, overcame a flat tire late in the race last weekend to claim his fifth straight top 10 run. He holds a 12-point lead over Hailie Deegan and is 19 points ahead of Drew Dollar.
Most of the drivers have never run at Kentucky, and they’ll have to get up-to-speed quickly as the condensed schedules with the return to racing has limited practice times.
“I’ve been on the simulator practicing as much as I can without actually being on the track,” Hailie Deegan said. “I’m still getting used to not having as many laps, which is what I need, I’m just trying to get practice anywhere I can.”
The ARCA Menards Series last raced at Kentucky in 2017, when eventual series champion Austin Theriault took the victory over Zane Smith and Sheldon Creed. Riley Herbst was seventh in the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing, and Ty Gibbs will be in that seat; Gibbs won at Pocono.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!