Jimmie Johnson, at long last, won a race during the 2014 season. His fourth Coca-Cola 600 victory made it 10 winners in the first 12 races, the most at this juncture since 2003.
The crazy part: The list of those drivers who have NOT won in 2014. It’s long, and distinguished. Chief among is three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, winner of last year’s race at Dover International Speedway — site of Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET on FOX).
“I remember thinking that if someone had told me that we were going to win, I would’ve told them they were crazy,” Stewart said of the victory. “We just didn’t have the car to win the race, but we had great pit strategy at the end. We had a car that was solid, but we just never could get the track position to get in clean air. We changed only two tires on that last stop to get up front. The car felt a lot better up there and it didn’t seem like the guys who took four tires had a huge advantage taking off. When we noticed we were catching the leaders, we kind of got going on the bottom and made up even more time. It was just a big win for us and really gave us some momentum for the next few races.”
Also included on that unfortunate list is Matt Kenseth. Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and the championship runner-up last year to Johnson, won a series-high seven races last season and has been on the verge of victory plenty this this season – his nine top 10s this year are tied for the series lead.
A few others still awaiting a first win:
• Brian Vickers: The 2003 NASCAR Nationwide series champion is, on the upside, eighth in points.
• Ryan Newman: Newman is 10th in points, with no top-five finishes.
• Greg Biffle: He won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title in 2000, the NASCAR Nationwide Series title in 2002 and was the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship runner-up in 2005. But he’s winless and in 11th place points-wise, with four top 10s and two top fives.
• Kasey Kahne: Kahne is 17th in points with only one top five, surprising for a driver with 16 career victories.
• Clint Bowyer: The 2008 NASCAR Nationwide series champion and the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship runner-up is 20th in points.
• Jamie McMurray: His emotional – and financially rewarding – victory in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race notwithstanding, he needs a points-paying series victory. McMurray is 23rd in points.
• Martin Truex Jr.: The NASCAR Nationwide champion in 2004 and ’05 is way back in 26th place, still looking not only for a victory but his first top-five finish of the year.
Fit To Be Tied: Logano Aims For Record Tying Run
This Saturday afternoon, Joey Logano can make history. Or, more accurately, tie history.
The newly turned 24-year-old has won four consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Dover International Speedway, site of Saturday’s Buckle Up 200 Presented by Click It or Ticket (2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN). A fifth straight victory would tie a record for consecutive wins at a track, currently held by NASCAR Hall of Famers Jack Ingram (South Boston) and Dale Earnhardt (Daytona), and Kyle Busch (Texas).
Supremacy is an understatement when referring to Logano at Dover. He leads the series in pre-race driver rating (124.9) and average running position (5.4). In 10 starts he has posted four wins, six top fives, seven top 10s and three Coors Light poles at the one-mile track.
“Dover is just one of those tracks that I’ve taken a liking to over the years and I’ve really figured out what it takes to get a car around there,” Logano said. “I can then relate that back to my team and my crew chief and we can get the car dialed in just like I need it. But it starts with having great cars and a great team behind you. When you come to the track, you are prepared and you just need to make little adjustments here and there to make sure everything is how you want it. And over the years, I’ve just figured out what those little adjustments need to be to be fast.”
Triple Duty: Busch Looks For Streak of His Own
Kyle Busch is three-for-three this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. A fourth at Dover would match a personal best. And the way he run in the trucks, count him as one of the odds-on favorites at a track that sits adjacent to a casino.
If Busch can go four-for-four in this Friday afternoon’s Lucas Oil 200 (5:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1), he will equal a career best mark of five consecutive wins (Busch also won last season’s finale at Homestead-Miami). Busch last won five starts in a row in 2009.
Dover, a one-mile track, is one that would have fit the criteria for an Erik Jones start. Jones, who shares the No. 51 Toyota with Busch, is under 18 years old, and as such, can only run tracks that are less than 1.25 miles in length.
But Busch wanted this one. Why? For the chance at a rare triple-header sweep — wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Busch pulled off the triple sweep at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2010, and is still the only driver to accomplish the feat.
“I’ve been very successful in all three series at Dover, so this spring race is one that I look at as a possible triple-win weekend,” Busch said. “The concrete surface is very slick and some drivers don’t like the concrete feel one bit, while other drivers like it. For me, I enjoy going to Dover and Bristol. They are fun places to race because they are challenging and other drivers don’t necessarily get it. The race tracks are slick and having the right mindset going into those races can give you an advantage over the guys that aren’t looking forward to racing there.”