While any NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory would qualify as “big,” a win in Kansas City would hold a special place in the heart of a trio of drivers.
Clint Bowyer, a native of Emporia, Kan., and Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray — both from neighboring Missouri — hope to enjoy the home-track feel that Kansas Speedway offers in Sunday’s STP 400 (FOX, 1 p.m. ET).
None of the three have won at Kansas, but Bowyer and Edwards have come the closest. Bowyer was runner-up in 2007, when Greg Biffle nursed his fuel-starved car to victory in a race that ended in near-darkness. Edwards finished second at Kansas the following year, coming up just short to Jimmie Johnson after trying a bold crossover move in the final lap. McMurray has a seventh-place run as the best finish among his two top-10s there.
For Edwards, a Kansas win would be the salve for a 40-race winless streak, but it would also represent a cherished moment in his already memorable career.
“There would be no bigger win on the circuit,” Edwards said. “If I had to choose between winning one race throughout the year, that would be the one I would pick. The amount of pride that I would have winning that close to home and in front of so many people that are friends of mine and people that have helped me, that would be huge.”
Having friends and family close by is a home-track perk, but does have some hurdles. Bowyer said he planned to arrive Wednesday in his home state for a string of appearances that include throwing out the first pitch at Friday night’s Kansas City Royals’ home game against Toronto.
“That’s the thing,” Bowyer said. “It’s difficult to go home because of getting pulled in all the different directions — all the while trying to focus on getting a good run, because that’s really what’s important to you the most there. It’s important to me to run well in front of all my fans, friends and family.â€
STENHOUSE STELLAR SO FAR
When Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won last weekend’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, he not only gained entrance to a special Lone Star State-themed Victory Lane celebration but beat a field stocked with Sprint Cup stars to do it.
Maybe that’s why he was still beaming the next day in the Texas garage, wearing the cowboy hat he’d won the previous night.
The series breaks for an idle weekend before a 250-lapper on April 27th at Richmond International Raceway. When the circuit resumes, the defending series champion will find himself second in the standings, just four points behind Elliott Sadler — the only other two-time winner in six races so far this season.
The uptick in performance this season prompted team owner Jack Roush to suggest that the wheel of his No. 6 car on the Sprint Cup side was Stenhouse’s for the taking, if sponsorship arrived.
“Certainly, Ricky is in championship form,” Roush said. “He’s able to make better decisions about the car, around the car, what he’s going to need. He and (crew chief) Mike Kelley are doing a real nice job together.”
PETERS MAKING THE GRADE IN TRUCKS
Timothy Peters hasn’t won in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season, but just three races in, he’s already earning high marks.
Peters enters Saturday’s SFP 250 (SPEED, 2 p.m. ET) at Kansas Speedway with a six-point edge over Justin Lofton in the truck standings, a cushion he hopes to build on this weekend.
Peters rose to his No. 1 perch after last Sunday’s event at Rockingham Speedway, in part because Red Horse Racing teammate John King retired after an early crash and surrendered the top spot. The other part to Peters’ advancement has been a second place in the series’ opener at Daytona and a pair of fifth-place runs, making him three-for-three on the young season.
“I’m looking forward to going to Kansas net week. Our season has been going well,” Peters said. “At this point, I would rate our season as an A-plus, and we’re running up front. If we keep executing, our win will come.”