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March 03, 2015
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Posted: Thursday, April 3rd 2014 at 4:00pm

NASCAR Preview: 7s up: Will we see another new winner?

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Matt Kenseth races into Texas Motor Speedway Sunday looking to score his first victory of the 2014 Sprint Cup season. / Photo: NASCAR Via Getty Images
FT. WORTH, TX - Kurt Busch set a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup era record the moment he hit the finish line to close last Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway – six different winners in the first six races.

And incredibly, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson – the top two winners from the 2013 season – aren’t among that group.

Neither are marquee winners like Kasey Kahne or Greg Biffle or Jeff Gordon or Denny Hamlin.

In other words, expect that list of different winners to grow, and maybe as soon as this weekend. If that does happen, here are two nuggets to consider.

The last time there were seven different winners in the first seven races was 2003.

The record for different winners to start the season is 10, in 2000.

In neither of those seasons were there more than 16 winners after 26 races. There were 13 different winners after 26 races in 2000, and 16 different winners after 26 races in 2003 (and the points leader at the time, Matt Kenseth, was indeed one of them).

So, historically speaking, it’s a very safe assumption that the six different winners thus far will be safely in the Chase after Richmond.

Who might join that list at Texas? Well, the names above all should contend.

Johnson dominated the last time the series raced at Texas. Biffle is a two-time champion, and has finished in the top 10 in 10 of the last 11 races at Texas. Kenseth has two wins here – though both were while under the Roush Fenway Racing umbrella – and finished fourth in last year’s Texas Chase race. Hamlin swept the 2010 races at Texas, but has finished in the top 10 only once in his last five starts (he missed last spring’s Texas race with a back injury).

Tony Stewart is an intriguing watch. Owner of two Texas wins, he looks to join teammates (and employees) Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick on the 2014 wins list, and eventually, the Chase.

WDUN will have live coverage from PRN Radio of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 from Texas Motor Speedway beginning at 2 pm on 102.9 FM and 550 AM.

NASCAR Nationwide Series: Bayne Locks In On Points Lead At Texas

Three years ago, in November 2011, Trevor Bayne capped off a roller-coaster of a year with his first career NASCAR Nationwide Series win in the fall Texas race. His season began with a storybook opening that saw him celebrating in victory lane at the Daytona 500. In between, he was sidelined by illness.

He rebounded to finish the season with seven consecutive top-11 finishes, including the win. Bayne ultimately finished 11th in the standings.

Bayne heads to Texas Motor Speedway with the rest of the NNS contingent for Friday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 on a mission – to unseat Regan Smith from atop the points standings. Although the two drivers are tied in points, Smith holds the tiebreaker by virtue of his win in the Daytona season opener. It is the first time in Bayne’s six-year career that he has held or shared the points lead.

Bayne’s quest to usurp Smith from his top spot, which he has held after each of the first five races, is definitely possible based upon the Tennessee native’s past success at the 1.5-mile track. Six of his seven Texas starts have resulted in top-15 finishes. In the spring race last year, he posted a 26th-place finish, but followed that up with an 11th in his most recent trip to Texas last November.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. won the spring event at Texas two years ago piloting the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, which Bayne inherited after Stenhouse moved up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at the end of the season. Although Stenhouse’s NNS crew chief Mike Kelley joined him in the premier series during the most recent offseason, most of the crew from back-to-back championships remains intact.

Teams will be working hard to ensure their race cars are at peak performance by the time qualifying rolls around on Friday afternoon as starting position at Texas is of the utmost importance. Eight of the last 10 races have been won by drivers starting in the top three, and 16 of the last 17 race winners have come from the top 10.

WDUN will have live coverage from PRN Radio of Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 from Texas Motor Speedway beginning at 8 pm on 102.9 FM.

Camping World Truck Series: Crafton Wins First Grandfather Clock In Wild Finish

Defending NCWTS champion Matt Crafton rebounded nicely from a disappointing 13th-place finish at Daytona in the season opener. His results also came with a memorable keepsake – and put him on the path to become the first repeat champion in season history.

Crafton held off Darrell Wallace, Jr. and Ben Kennedy in a wild green-white-checkered finish to score his fourth career series win and first at Martinsville, collecting his first Grandfather Clock trophy.

He now joins his ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter on the Martinsville wins list. Sauter, who finished fourth, already has two clocks. The race featured a track-record 17 lead changes with Crafton taking the lead from Timothy Peters on lap 250 and holding on for the final six laps.

Ryan Blaney also led some laps in the race and came home fifth, joining four other drivers who have finished in the top-10 in the first two races of the season. Ron Hornaday, Jr. and German Quiroga join Timothy Peters and Sauter as the other drivers who have also scored top-10’s in both races.

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