NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth (20) during practice at Talladega Superspeedway. (USA TODAY Sports: Mike DiNovo)
Kansas Speedway has spread the wealth during its 14-year stay on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.
It wasn’t always so generous, of course — not after Jeff Gordon reeled off back-to-back wins in 2001-02, Kansas Speedway’s first two seasons.
But then, Kansas welcomed six different drivers to Victory Lane in the next six races. And after that, another six unique winners.
Which all leads to a record book long on parity.
Five drivers share the all-time wins lead at Kansas with two wins apiece. Joining Gordon atop that list are Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart.
That bunch, who combine for 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships, one NASCAR Nationwide Series title and one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, also share another trait — one a little less enviable.
They are all still looking for their first win of 2014, and the likely Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot that goes with it. The statistics suggest that breakthrough win will come in Saturday night’s 5-hour ENERGY 400 at Kansas Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX).
That fab five rank 1-through-5 in Kansas Speedway driver rating, with the breakdown as such: Johnson 118.9; Kenseth 109.6; Biffle 106.9; Gordon 99.6; Stewart 97.5.
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.
“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,” Biffle 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.”
Kennedy returns to track after getting UF diploma
Sure, the trucks have been silent for much of the past month — save for a test session or two — but that doesn’t mean its drivers have used the opportunity to take an extended vacation.
Quite the opposite. And few have been busier than Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Ben Kennedy.
Kennedy, who scored his career-best finish (third) during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ last race at Martinsville Speedway, earned his college degree last Saturday.
The newly minted University of Florida graduate — who took a selfie while walking across the graduation stage, and posted it on Twitter — will commemorate the achievement by wearing a special Class of 2014 Gators helmet during Friday night’s SFP 250 at Kansas Speedway (8:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1).
Kennedy also will run a special paint scheme honoring ALS Awareness Month, and have a special guest with him throughout the weekend — Don Post, the 2013 Betty Jane France Humanitarian of the Year winner. Post, whose name will be above the right-side door of Kennedy’s truck, has defied the odds in terms of his life expectancy, and has since dedicated his life to helping others.
Friday will be Kennedy’s first start at Kansas, though he does have two prior starts at 1.5-mile venues. Last season, he raced to a 16th-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway (which is often likened to Kansas), and a 30th-place run at Homestead-Miami Speedway.