Hendrick Team Will Try to Ex­tend Streaks

The Washington Post Sunday - - Wizards Insider -

FORT WORTH, April 14 — For­get try­ing to ex­plain them. Jim­mie John­son sim­ply would like to ex­tend a pair of streaks in Texas.

There have been 12 win­ners in the 12 NASCAR Nex­tel Cup races at Texas Mo­tor Speed­way, which has gone longer than any other track with­out a re­peat win­ner.

That will be 13 in a row if John­son or any of his team­mates — Jeff Gor­don, Kyle Busch or Casey Mears — wins the Sam­sung 500 on Sun­day.

Plus, if any of the Hendrick Mo­tor­sports driv­ers fin­ishes up front, it will be the first time since 1971 that a team has won five con­sec­u­tive races in the same sea­son.

“Well, streaks come to­gether and we can’t ex­plain why it goes on or what causes it,” said John­son, who has won three of the last four races. “But we cer­tainly don’t want to change any­thing in case it’s some­thing we don’t no­tice. . . . Some­times things just click for a month or two.”

Gor­don, the sea­son points leader even though he has not won a race, is 0 for 12 in Texas. He’ll start his No. 24 Chevro­let on the pole af­ter the field was set by owner points.

Qual­i­fy­ing was can­celed be­cause of se­vere storms Fri­day night. That put John­son start­ing third and Busch fifth, though he will have to go to the rear of the field in a backup car af­ter crash­ing dur­ing prac­tice Satur­day. Mears, the Hendrick new­comer, will start 33rd.

Texas is one of three ac­tive tracks where Gor­don hasn’t won. The only Cup vic­tory for Hendrick in Texas came in 1999 with Terry Labonte — the only for­mer win­ner at the track not rac­ing this week­end.

Dale Earn­hardt Jr., Greg Bif­fle, Tony Ste­wart, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Carl Ed­wards, Mark Martin, Ryan New­man, El­liott Sadler, Dale Jar­rett and in­au­gu­ral win­ner Jeff Bur­ton — who starts sec­ond — all will try to be­come the first driver to do a Texas two-step.

But why hasn’t any­body been able to do it be­fore?

“I don’t have an an­swer for that. . . . I don’t even have a clue as to why that is,” said Bur­ton, who won the first race at Texas Mo­tor Speed­way on April 6, 1997. “I think it’s cool there hasn’t been a re­peat win­ner. I think it would be even cooler if we could stop that this week­end.”

When Rich­mond opened in 1953, there were eight races be­fore in­au­gu­ral win­ner Lee Petty be­came the first re­peat win­ner in 1960. The Texas streak al­ready is four races longer.

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