Thursday, May 08, 2014

Random Thoughts From The Plains Of Kansas

A few random thoughts while waiting out a Thursday afternoon rain delay at Kansas Speedway…
Pay attention!
Hamlin No Darkhorse: If you were surprised by Denny Hamlin’s victory in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, it’s because you haven’t been paying attention. Despite being a lukewarm 12th in points earned in 2014, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has been virtually unstoppable in restrictor plate races. Hamlin began his season with a win in the non-point Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway, before prevailing in his Budweiser Dual Qualifier. He finished a close second behind winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the Daytona 500, before winning Sunday at Talladega.
With an average finish of 1.25 in restrictor plate events this season, Hamlin and his Fed Ex Toyota team are surely looking forward to Saturday night, July 5, when the Sprint Cup Series returns to Daytona for the Coke Zero 400.
So, who ya got in that one?
Maybe this weekend...
Pretty Payday: NASCAR Wire Service reporter Reid Spencer pointed out earlier this week that Hamlin took home $303,315 for his win at Talladega. Or 649,493,145.65 in Dogecoin. You decide.

Tell The Truth: Who predicted Matt Kenseth to be the only Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Cup Series driver yet to visit Victory Lane in 2014? A seven-time winner and title contender last season, Kenseth has just three Top-5 finishes in 10 starts this year, with a best showing of fourth at Fontana and Darlington. Kenseth is a two-time winner here at Kansas Speedway, however, and could easily grab the brass ring this weekend in the Land of Dorothy Gale.

Busch League: While Kenseth’s numbers at Kansas Speedway are solid, teammate Kyle Busch has struggled mightily. Busch’s average finish in 13 career Sprint Cup starts here is a woeful 23.3, making Kansas by far his worst statistical track.

Ryan Blaney
Calling All Blaney-acs: Ryan Blaney makes his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut Sunday in the No. 12 SKF Ford for Team Penske. Blaney, the son of Sprint Cup veteran Dave Blaney, has some experience at the Kansas track, finishing third in Camping World Truck Series action here a year ago and claiming an 11th-place Nationwide Series finish in 2012. Papa Dave is also on this weekend’s entry list, but has struggled to qualify in 2014, missing eight of the 10 races to date for Randy Humphrey Racing.

Bad News For Jimmie: Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has now gone 10 races without a win at the start of the 2014 campaign, tying for the third-longest drought to start a season in his 13-year career. In each of the three prior seasons when Johnson went 10 races (or more) without a win, he failed to win the championship.

And GOOD News For Jimmie: In the opening 10 races of this season, Johnson has four finishes outside the Top-20. That’s the most since 2009, when Johnson also finished 20th or worse four times in his first 10 starts. For the record, the Hendrick Motorsports driver rebounded from that shaky start to win the 2009 Cup Series championship.

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