Monday, March 31, 2014

Texas Storylines: 2014 Duck Commander 500

Kurt Busch makes it six different drivers to win in first six races
NASCAR Storylines for Week of March 31, 2014

Another race; another close call for six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.

But rest assured his time to celebrate is more than likely approaching sooner than later, and with that an all-but-guaranteed spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

It could come as soon as this Sunday at Texas where he has three wins, two of them coming in the last three visits to the 1.5-mile track. He’s finished in the top 10 in 16 of his 21 starts there.

If Jimmie Johnson does wind up in Victory Lane, he would be the seventh different driver to win in the first seven races of the 2014 season. Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart are also past winners in Texas still searching for their first wins of the season.

A long-awaited victory finally came for Kurt Busch on Sunday at Martinsville. It was Busch that passed Johnson with 10 laps to go before holding him off over the final laps to seize his first win since 2011.

After a weekend off, the NASCAR Nationwide Series returns to action – also at Texas. Trevor Bayne will be aiming to break his tie with Regan Smith in the points standings. Bayne’s hoping the week off didn’t cool off his hot streak of five consecutive top-10 finishes to begin the season.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned to action for the first time in over a month with reigning champion Matt Crafton celebrating his first win of the season. Entered in the race were four NASCAR Next members, proving that the future of NASCAR is in capable hands.


Jimmie Johnson On The Verge Of Win

The last two races for six-time NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson were going so well … and then they slipped away. He led the most laps in the races at Auto Club and Martinsville, where he came so close to capturing the win before finishing second to Kurt Busch, who took the point from Johnson with 10 laps to go. Johnson has an excellent shot at winning this weekend at Texas, where has won thrice, including two of the last three races, and thus all but locking up a Chase spot.

Five-For-Five, Six-For-Six … Now Paging Seven-For-Seven
One has to go all the way back to the 2003 season to find a year in which the first seven races were won by seven different drivers (it wasn’t until the 10th race that season that Kurt Busch became the first two-race winner). With the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series headed to Texas for Sunday’s Duck Commander 500, several past winners there, including Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon, are looking to be the seventh consecutive winner of 2014 and all but locking up a spot for the postseason.

Kurt Busch Quenches Thirst For Win, Ends Drought
Eighty-three races ago, Kurt Busch piloted the No. 22 Penske Dodge to Victory Lane at Dover International Speedway. On Sunday, Busch took the checkered flag at Martinsville in the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet for the first time since that day in Dover. The win was a first for Busch’s crew chief Daniel Knost in NASCAR’s national series. The series now heads to Texas where Busch has one win.

Roush Fenway Racing Has The Right Stuff At Texas
In 1997, when Texas Motor Speedway hosted its first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, then-Roush Fenway Racing driver Jeff Burton walked away with the trophy. Since that inaugural race, the organization has won a record eight more times in the series at Texas. Greg Biffle (three) and Carl Edwards (two) have both piloted RFR Fords to victory. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won a NNS event there for the organization in 2012. Both Biffle and Stenhouse have struggled in the first six races of 2014, but a strong finish on Sunday could turn their seasons around.

Austin Dillon Finds Himself In Enviable Position
Six races into his first full-time season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Austin Dillon has to be pleased with where he sits – ninth in the points standings and second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year competition. He’s a very manageable 48 points behind points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the championship standings and two points behind Kyle Larson in the rookie race heading to Texas. On Sunday at Martinsville, Dillon notched his fourth top-15 finish of the young season. He has six top-10 finishes in 10 national series starts at Texas.


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