NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer has had a busy week so far – he’s announced a contract extension with Michael Waltrip Racing and announced that he and his wife Lorra are expecting their first child. This Saturday night at Kansas Speedway – his home track – he’ll make his 300th start in the 5-Hour Energy – his primary sponsor – 400 benefiting Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The best way to top off this week for Bowyer would be to pick up his first win of the season – actually, his first win since Charlotte in October 2012.
Bowyer has five top 10 finishes in 11 starts at his home track, including a runner-up finish in 2007 with Richard Childress Racing. So far this season, he has just three top 10 finishes in 10 races – he picked up a season-best third place finish at Talladega last weekend – and ranks 18th in points.
“Every time you see one of these 300 starts or 400 starts, whatever it is with us, it really doesn’t register until you get back to thinking about how it all began and what it really means,” said Bowyer in a recent NASCAR teleconference. “Very fortunate to be a part of this sport for 300 races. Now just announcing that we’re going to be a part of it for another extended amount of time, it’s very gratifying and there is a great deal of pride that goes into that. Love this sport, love being a part of it, and hopefully we’re a part of it for a long time.”
Bowyer will be looking to become the sixth driver to earn a win in his 300th career Cup Series start, and he’s among good company – NASCAR Hall of Fame members Ned Jarrett and Rusty Wallace, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, who won in his 300th start just last weekend at Talladega.
There are plenty of other drivers still looking for their first wins of the season as well – and five of them have pretty good track records at Kansas, accounting for wins in 10 of the 16 races previously held there. Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart each have two wins at the 1.5-mile track, and all are winless in 2014. Johnson leads active drivers in average starting position (10.8) at Kansas, and is also the only driver with an average finish in the top 10 (7.5). Kenseth is the reigning pole sitter and winner of the spring race at Kansas.
The Camping World Truck Series returns to the track at Kansas Speedway, and young Ryan Blaney will be busy because of it. Not only will the 20-year-old son of Cup veteran and World of Outlaws champ Dave Blaney be racing in the Truck Series, where he races for Brad Keselowski Racing full-time, he’ll attempt to make his Sprint Cup Series debut driving the No. 12 Ford Fusion for Team Penske. If both Blaney and his father make the race on Sunday, it will be the first time since 2005 that a father and son will compete in the same Cup Series event; the pair did race against each other last season in the inaugural Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway.
The Truck Series qualifies for the SFP 250 Friday, May 9 at 3:35 p.m. CT, followed by the green flag at 7:30 p.m. CT. The Sprint Cup Series qualifies Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT, with the 5-Hour Energy 400 going green at 6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, May 10.
Sources: “Statistical Advance: Analyzing the 5-Hour Energy 400 Benefitting Special Operations Warrior Foundation,” NASCAR Media, May 5, 2014
“NASCAR National Series News & Notes – 2014 Kansas 1,” NASCAR Media, May 6, 2014
“NASCAR Teleconference with Clint Bowyer,” NASCAR Media, May 6, 2014