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Posted: Thursday, April 24th 2014 at 10:13am

NASCAR Preview: When Will Johnson, Kenseth Quench Wins Thirst

By NASCAR Media
EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
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Matt Kenseth continues to look for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of 2014 going into this weekend's race at Richmond International Raceway. / Photo: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images
RICHMOND, VA - Here’s a stat that properly illustrates how weird this Jimmie Johnson/Matt Kenseth “drought” is: The last time neither won any of the first eight races, Johnson wasn’t even in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series yet.

The year was 2001. Johnson was in his second full season of NASCAR Nationwide Series competition. Kenseth was in his second full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and battling a bit of a sophomore slump. He went winless and finished outside the top 10 in the final championship standings.

Few would’ve predicted they’d combine to win seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships over the next decade and a half, or win a combined 96 races.

The point: Though an eight-race drought doesn’t constitute as a panic situation, it can certainly be categorized as bizarre. Last year at this time, they each had two wins.

But the wait likely won’t last too much longer. Though Richmond International Raceway might be the place, tracks beyond this weekend may provide a slightly better opportunity.

Though Johnson has three wins at Richmond, the last was in 2008 – and he’s finished outside the top 10 in each of the last three Richmond races. Kenseth has finished in the top 10 in each of the last three Richmond races, but hasn’t won a race at the Virginia short track since 2002.

The four points races that follow – Talladega, Kansas, Charlotte and Dover? Wheelhouse City.

Kenseth’s restrictor-plate prowess has been well documented. In 2012’s four restrictor-plate races – which includes Talladega and Daytona – Kenseth won twice, averaging a finish of 2.0. And last year, Johnson became the first driver since 1982 to sweep at Daytona.

Kenseth is the defending winner of the spring Kansas races, and is tied with Johnson (and Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart) atop the track’s wins list.

Johnson shares the all-time Charlotte wins lead with NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip. And at Dover, Johnson owns eight wins, more than any other driver.

So, if it doesn’t happen at Richmond this Saturday night, it’ll probably happen at Talladega. Or Kansas. Or Charlotte. Or Dover. Eighteen races remain in the regular season – plenty of time for two of the best drivers in the sport’s history to lock up their spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

WDUN will have live coverage from MRN Radio of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Toyota Owners 400 from Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, VA Saturday night beginning at 6 pm on 102.9 FM and 550 AM.

NASCAR Nationwide Series: Who Will Be The Next First-Time Winner In Nationwide?

Kyle Larson did it first. Chase Elliott did it next – only to do it again the following week.

When Larson crossed the finish line first at Auto Club Speedway, he became the season’s first first-time winner to win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. One race later, Chase Elliott notched his first career series win by outlasting the field at Texas, and then he won again – this time at Darlington in the series’ most recent race.

With the recent run on first-time winners, it begs the question as to who will be the next first timer in the series … and could that person do so at Richmond?

Possible candidates include Ty Dillon, Brian Scott, Brendan Gaughan, Dylan Kwasniewski and Ryan Reed, who are all in the top 10 in the points standings.

Dillon has come closest to winning through the first seven races of the season, having compiled six top 10s with a low showing of 11th. His highest finish was sixth in Bristol. In two Richmond races, his best result was seventh in the fall 2012 event.

Scott, Gaughan and Reed each have one top-10 finish in limited experience at Richmond. Scott finished second in the fall 2013 race, the same race in which Reed finished ninth. Gaughan’s best showing there was a ninth in the spring 2009 event. Kwasniewski has never made a series start at the short track.

WDUN will have live coverage from MRN Radio of the NASCAR Nationwide Series ToyotaCare 250 from Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, VA Friday night beginning at 6:30 pm on 102.9 FM.

NASCAR Camping World Trucks: Drivers Remain Busy During Break

Though the next race for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series isn’t until May 9 at Kansas Speedway, many series regulars will compete on track this week.

More than a dozen teams spent Monday and Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway testing for their upcoming race there on Friday, May 16. Teams tested from 1-9 p.m. each day to prepare for the fourth race of the 2014 schedule. This session will give competitors extended track time as they prepare to compete on a 1.5-mile track for the first time this season with the new truck body designs.

Timothy Peters and Jeb Burton will also compete in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown Thursday night April 24 at South Boston (VA) Speedway. Both Peters and Burton have won numerous times at the track in late model stock cars.

Peters and Burton will join over 40 other drivers participating in the annual fundraising event for Hamlin’s foundation. Kyle Busch, who won the season-opening truck race at Daytona, will also compete in the charity event.

Also seeing duty this week will be Ryan Blaney. Blaney will compete in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Friday night at Richmond International Raceway. After he goes for his second NNS win, Blaney will then prepare for his debut in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Team Penske at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, May 10.

Blaney has tested at Charlotte in his truck for Brad Keselowski Racing and also tested for Team Penske in Nashville.
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