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NASCAR Preview: 5 Guys Eye Kansas For Breakthrough Win

By NASCAR Media
EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
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Greg Biffle came up one position short of a win last week at Talladega Superspeedway, and hopes to better that run by one spot Saturday night at Kansas Speedway. / Photo: NASCAR Via Getty Images
KANSAS CITY, KS - From the “Something’s Gotta Give” department …

As NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers keep winning and virtually assuring themselves spots in the revamped Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, a number of other drivers remain winless. And outside-looking-in is not where you want to be in 2014 and beyond.

Heading into Saturday night’s 5-hour ENERGY 400 at Kansas Speedway, we are faced with the strangest of polar-opposite statistics; the five drivers sharing the all-time lead in Kansas victories all are winless thus far this season. Stretching the strangeness: this is a most elite, power-laden lineup.

Our collective 0-for-10 hitters: Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) … Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet) … Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) … Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) … Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford).

The first four have combined for 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships. Biffle hasn’t won NASCAR’s biggest title but he’s been close, finishing as the series’ runner-up in 2005. Biffle also has won NASCAR’s two other national series championships, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2000 and the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2002.

This story gets better, thanks to the insight provided by Loop Data statistics. The five drivers listed above have the top five Driver Ratings over the course of Kansas Speedway’s brief (since 2001, 16 races total) but impactful history in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Here’s that rundown: Jimmie Johnson 118.9; Matt Kenseth 109.6; Greg Biffle 106.9; Jeff Gordon 99.6; Tony Stewart 97.5.

As for which one of the five could indeed break through Saturday night, Biffle could be the smart pick. His team, Roush Fenway Racing, has won four times at Kansas Speedway, accounting for all of Ford’s victories at the 1.5-mile speedway, with wins by former RFR drivers Kenseth and Mark Martin joining Biffle’s two. Also, Biffle comes off an impressive second-place effort at the largest and most precarious track in the series, Talladega Superspeedway.

Biffle was asked about becoming the first three-time Kansas winner, post-race at ’Dega.

“I didn’t know that stat; I’d be super-excited to win there to start with, but to be the first guy to win three there would be pretty neat … I love that race track,” he said. “It sure would have been nice (at Talladega) to get a win (working) toward the Chase, but we've got some great race tracks coming up, as well. … It would have been nice.”

So yes, Biffle, like four other guys who know a lot about winning, looks forward to Kansas Speedway. Optimism is evident when ones talks to the six-time champion Johnson, the proverbial elephant in this winless room. Historically, Johnson excels on 1.5-mile tracks.

“I feel pretty good (about the season),” he said last week. “We’ve had strong runs … I think at Texas, we didn’t get to go very far (because of an early-race incident) but through practice and qualifying we had a lot of people concerned. We led a lot at California. Vegas went well. I feel very good about our 1.5-mile stuff. We still want to be better … but we’ve been in there fighting for wins.”

The fight continues.

WDUN will have live coverage from MRN Radio of Saturday night's 5-Hour Energy 400 from Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, KS beginning at 6:30 pm on 102.9 FM and 550 AM.

NASCAR Nationwide Series: Heading Into ‘Break’, Competition The Biggest Star So Far

Chase Elliott might be the singular star of the first nine races, but the on-track competition as a whole has taken center stage during this scintillating start to the season. A brief look at some of the topline highlights as the series enters the break...

Seven different winners in the first nine series races – Chase Elliot (Texas, Darlington) and Kyle Busch (Phoenix, Bristol) are the only two multi-race winners

The average age of the seven different winners in the first nine races is 27 years old.

Nine different Coors Light pole winners in the first nine races, which ties 1998 for the most in series history through the first nine races.

There have been a total of 108 lead changes in the first nine races; averaging 12.0 lead changes per event.

There have been a total of 55 race leaders in the first nine events; averaging 6.1 leaders per race.

The average Margin of Victory (MOV) through the first nine races of 2014 is 0.910 second. The closest MOV in 2014 was at Daytona (0.013 second)

NASCAR Camping World Trucks: Ryan Blaney Ready For Double Duty

Hopefully, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers enjoyed the break – because things are about to get a lot busier for the series. And few will be as busy as Ryan Blaney.

After racing only twice so far this season, the 2014 schedule will get hectic over the next couple of weeks. For the first time this season, the series will be in action in back-to-back weekends with the SFP 250 this Friday night at Kansas Speedway and next week at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

For Blaney, it will be a full weekend in Kansas as the 20-year-old driver will race in both Friday night’s SFP 250 and Saturday night’s 5-hour ENERGY 400. It would be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut for Blaney, who will drive the No. 12 Ford for Team Penske on Saturday.

The race also could provide an opportunity for Blaney to compete against his father Dave, which would make them the first father/son duo to compete in in the same NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event since Bobby Hamilton, Sr. and Jr. raced at Atlanta on October 30, 2005. Both Blaneys raced against one another last season in the historic truck race at Eldora Speedway.

Blaney, who already has two truck series and one NASCAR Nationwide Series wins on his resume, will be joining teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano in the field. Before that happens, Blaney will jump in his truck owned by Keselowski for Friday’s race. Blaney enters this weekend in fourth, four points behind leaders Timothy Peters and Johnny Sauter.

Blaney is also scheduled to make a second Cup series start at Talladega Superspeedway in the fall, in another double-duty effort during the Camping World Truck - Sprint Cup weekend.

The third-generation driver has also made four starts in the NNS so far this season, with three top-10 showings highlighted by a fourth-place finish at Bristol in March.

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