On Saturday night, for the first time since 1954, NASCAR will hold a Sprint Cup Series race in the state of Kentucky.
You're forgiven if you don't remember the previous Cup race in the Bluegrass State. It was a 100-mile race held on a dirt track called Corbin Speedway; race winner Lee Petty and Herschel McGriff were the only drivers to finish on the lead lap.
After that one race, though, the Cup Series never returned to Kentucky. Until now.
Kentucky Speedway – a 1.5-mile track in Sparta – opened in 2000, but its owners never received a Cup date from NASCAR despite solid crowds for IndyCar and NASCAR Nationwide/Truck races. The original owners famously sued NASCAR in an attempt to get the coveted Cup race, but failed and eventually gave up.
Owner Jerry Carroll sold the facility to Bruton Smith's Speedway Motorsports Inc. in 2008, but Smith also had trouble securing a date for his new venue until he agreed to move a race from Atlanta.
So here we are: NASCAR's first trip to a new Cup track since 2001. And at least for the first event, drivers will race in front of a sold-out crowd of 107,000.
No one knows quite what to expect, though it is a 1.5-mile track. Expect to see the usual suspects up front throughout the night – and a massive traffic jam after the race.
Keep it here all weekend, as we're live from Kentucky Speedway for NASCAR's inaugural Sprint Cup Series race in Sparta.