Monday, April 16, 2012

2012 Kansas STP 400 Storylines

Biffle ended 49-race winless streak (Getty)
Greg Biffle, too talented and too prolific to go an entire season without winning, did just that in 2011. Going into last weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, 49 races had passed since the last time Biffle visited Victory Lane.

That long wait ended Saturday night, resulting in two storylines in one: Biffle added some padding to his points lead, which now stands at 19 points over teammate Matt Kenseth. He also become became the sixth different winner in seven races, and locked himself into the 2012 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

And who knows, maybe he’ll win again this Sunday at Kansas Speedway. That would be called a winning streak. It has happened before.

After all, prior to Texas, Biffle’s last win came at Kansas and he’s one of four drivers with two victories at the 1.5-mile track.

This Sunday’s STP 400, the final event on the “old” surface before the track gets repaved, will run at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.

On Saturday, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will run its fourth event of the season, the SFP 250 at 1:30 p.m. on SPEED.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series has an open weekend this weekend before returning to action next Friday night at Richmond International Raceway.

Storylines follow…


Hendrick’s Returns To Site 199th – And Last – Win
Jimmie Johnson took the win last fall at Kansas (Getty)
It’s coming. One of these races, and the feeling is that it’ll be sooner than later, Hendrick Motorsports will land its oddly elusive 200th victory. Two weeks ago at Martinsville, it seemed like a guarantee. Didn’t happen. At Texas, Jimmie Johnson led the most laps. Didn’t happen.

Thirteen races have passed since Hendrick’s last victory, and though it doesn’t seem like a big number, for Hendrick it is. Its last win came at Kansas Speedway (by Jimmie Johnson), site of Sunday race. That’s the longest drought Hendrick has had since the end of 2002 and the beginning of 2003 when it went 15 races without a win. Coincidentally, that streak began after a Kansas win as well.

Rick Hendrick has attended all 13 races since then but hasn't been able to celebrate his organization's 200th win in NASCAR's premier series. Hendrick holds more wins than any other owner at Kansas with four.

Biffle, Puccia A Perfect Match
Not only did Greg Biffle win his first race since 2010, crew chief Matt Puccia won his first race…period.

Just about every time Biffle opens his mouth to talk about his white-hot start, he credits Puccia. The praise makes sense. Their careers have taken similar paths.

Like Biffle, Puccia has worked his way up. Biffle started his NASCAR national series career in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, then graduated to the NASCAR Nationwide Series – winning a championship in each.

Puccia’s first job at Roush Fenway Racing was in 2006 as crew chief for the No. 50 team. In 2008, he led the No. 99 truck team with Erik Darnell to a victory at Michigan and a final points position of fourth. In 2009 he moved to the NASCAR Nationwide Series as crew chief for a partial schedule with Paul Menard before the team raced full time in 2010. Mid-season last year, he was promoted to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Biffle.

Keselowski Back Where It All Began
Brad Keselowski, who dropped to 15th in points after a 36th place finish at Texas, boasts bounce-back potential at Kansas Speedway.

Last year, his surprising win kicked off an improbable Wild Card campaign that landed him in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the championship conscience with the likes of Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards.

Though last year’s victory only launched him to 21st in points at the time, it clearly gave the team a confidence that led to two more “regular season” wins and the No. 1 Wild Card seed.

Kansas No Place Like Home For Bowyer, Edwards, McMurray
Three marquee drivers return home to the Midwest this weekend.

Clint Bowyer (Emporia, Kan.), Carl Edwards (Columbia, Mo.) and Jamie McMurray (Joplin, Mo.) consider Kansas Speedway their home track and yearn for a win at the 1.5-mile track.

None have a win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but Edwards and Bowyer each have one in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Edwards’ came in 2004; Bowyer won last year.

Bowyer’s best NSCS finish was a runner-up result in 2007. Edwards, likewise, had a runner-up finish in 2008. McMurray’s best Kansas run came in 2004, when he finished seventh.

Pole Closed: Newman’s Not The Quickest At Kansas
As he seeks to become the ninth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver to win 50 career Coors Light Pole Award, Ryan Newman isn't a contender for the top spot. Kansas is one of eight tracks in the 24-venue NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule where he hasn't started first. His average start at the track is 15.0, his worst at all but three tracks: Texas Motor Speedway (15.4), Kentucky Speedway (18.0) and Daytona International Speedway (20.3)

Kansas Speedway Builds Homes In Joplin
Kansas Speedway is joining six other athletic organizations in a Joplin, Mo.-area Habitat for Humanity effort to build 35 homes in Joplin, which was devastated by tornadoes last year.

The program aims to build 35 new homes in the heart of Joplin during 2012 to provide continued aid to the city’s recovery. Others participating are: the Kansas City Chiefs, the Kansas City Royals, the University of Missouri Athletic Department, the St. Louis Cardinals, the St. Louis Rams and the St. Louis Blues.

- NASCAR Media Services

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