Kansas City, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Jeff Gordon is hoping to become the next driver to punch his ticket into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship this weekend at Kansas Speedway.
One year ago, Gordon scored his first victory of the season in the inaugural night race at Kansas. He virtually guaranteed himself a spot in the 2014 Chase with his win here. Gordon also won at Indianapolis and Michigan during the regular season and secured the second seed in the playoffs.
This is his 23rd and final season in NASCAR's premier series.
There have been eight different winners in the first 10 races this season. Kevin Harvick (Las Vegas and Phoenix), Jimmie Johnson (Atlanta and Texas), Joey Logano (Daytona 500), Brad Keselowski (Fontana), Denny Hamlin (Martinsville), Matt Kenseth (Bristol), Kurt Busch (Richmond) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Talladega) have all but assured themselves a position in this year's Chase.
Can Gordon be the next one to join the Chase party?
Gordon, the four-time Cup Series champion, leads all drivers with three wins at Kansas. He won the inaugural race at this 1.5-mile track in 2001 and then followed up with another victory here in 2002.
"This has been a great track for us ever since we first started coming here," Gordon said. "I've always enjoyed this racetrack. It's suited my driving style."
Gordon's most recent victory in the series occurred 17 races ago at Dover -- the third round in last year's Chase.
In the 18 Cup races held at Kansas, Gordon has the most top-five finishes with 10. He has also recorded 12 top-10 finishes at this track. Gordon placed 14th here this past October.
In last year's night race at Kansas, Gordon prevailed during a late-race round of pit stops under green when he was the quickest off of pit road. Harvick had started on the pole and led a race-high 119 laps, but Gordon was able to wrestle the top spot away from him with eight laps to go.
"Last year, we proved that we can still be very competitive here," Gordon said. "We had a great race. Kevin (Harvick) was very strong, but we were right there with him. Under the green-flag (pit) stop, we were able to get the lead.
"This year, we're certainly optimistic coming back here. Hopefully, we can repeat from last year's performance. I'm excited about the weekend."
Kansas is the fourth 1.5-mile track on the schedule this season. Gordon finished 41st at Atlanta and then 18th at Las Vegas before he placed seventh at Texas.
"I think our chances are always good when we come to Kansas, but I'm certainly the first one to admit that our mile-and-a-half program is not up to par with a couple of other teams (Johnson and Harvick) that seem to be beating us on these types of tracks," he said. "But nobody is working harder than (crew chief) Alan Gustafson and our group - all of us working together to find that extra speed and get ourselves in the position to win races more consistently."
Forty-four teams are on the entry list for SpongeBob SquarePants 400.
Weather could be a factor in Saturday's race at Kansas. According to the National Weather Service, there is a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the Kansas City area.
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Saturday, May 9. Race: SpongeBob SquarePants 400. Site: Kansas Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 7:30 p.m. ET. Laps: 267. Miles: 400.5. 2014 Winner: Jeff Gordon. Television: FOX Sports 1. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.