Hendrick Team Will Try to Extend Streaks
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.