Gordon Alone Among Kansas Winners

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon finished fourth in last year’s spring race at Kansas Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)

Eight different drivers have claimed victory in the 11 years the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has competed at Kansas Speedway.

But just one – Jeff Gordon – has posted back-to-back wins on the 1.5-mile oval. The Hendrick Motorsports driver won the first two Cup races run in Kansas City, in 2001 and 2002. He hasn’t been back to the track’s Winner’s Circle since but intends to end that dry spell in Sunday’s STP 400.

“We’ve run well there since the beginning,” Gordon said. “We won the first two races and even though we experienced engine issues in the fall, we ran well in both races last season. I think our cars are even better this year.”

Gordon finished fourth in last year’s spring race at Kansas Speedway. He qualified 10th and led laps in the fall event before being sidelined with the engine woes that left him with a 34th-place finish.

“I love Kansas Speedway and we’ll enjoy this final race on the old surface as much as we can,” Gordon said, referencing the fact that the track’s repaving project will begin shortly after the checkered flag falls Sunday. There’ll be a new surface when teams return for the sixth round of this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in October. “The worn-out surfaces are the ones that put on the best shows. I don’t know anybody that’s a real fan of repaving.

“The tracks don’t want to incur the cost, but they know it’s necessary because of the structure of the pavement or the foundation underneath.”

Gordon – along with Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne – is chasing the organization’s 200th Cup Series victory. The drive toward that milestone has been stalled since last fall, when Johnson recorded win No. 199 – at Kansas Speedway.

“I like the options that Kansas Speedway provides,” Johnson said. “We can run anywhere. It’s been a strong track for me.”

Like Gordon, Johnson has two wins on the 1.5-mile oval. The victory in last year’s Chase race at Kansas was his last trip to the Winner’s Circle. He’s carrying a 13-race winless streak into the weekend.

Johnson has come close to halting the skid in the first two months of the current campaign, posting two runner-up finishes in his last five starts and climbing to eighth in the Sprint Cup Series standings.

Gordon’s looking to make a similar push in points after a sluggish start to the 2012 season. He’s 17th in points, 96 behind leader Greg Biffle but just 15 outside the top 12. The four-time champion sees one big key to improving his performance.

“We have to work on our qualifying and start more toward the front,” said Gordon, whose average start this season is 18th. “Our cars are really good in the race, but we’re not qualifying well enough.”

Sprint Cup Series teams will open practice Friday at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) at Kansas Speedway and qualify Saturday at 12:10 p.m. Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – will have complete coverage of Sunday’s STP 400 beginning at 12 p.m., with live streaming at MotorRacingNetwork.com.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, Jeff Gordon

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