Philadelphia, PA – It's hard to believe, but 13 races have passed since Hendrick Motorsports' last win in the Sprint Cup Series.
Jimmie Johnson gave team owner Rick Hendrick his 199th and most recent victory in NASCAR's premier series on October 9, 2011 at Kansas Speedway. Six and a half months later, the series returns to the 1.5-mile track. And Hendrick is hoping this will be the weekend he gets his long-awaited 200th win in the series.
The 13-race winless drought is the longest for Hendrick since the latter part of the 2002 season and the beginning of 2003, when the racing organization went 15 races without a victory. That streak, nearly a decade ago, coincidentally began after Jeff Gordon's win at Kansas.
Since last fall's race at Kansas, a Hendrick driver has finished in the runner-up spot four times, including Johnson's second-place run last Saturday night at Texas.
Earlier this month, Johnson was denied the victory at Martinsville. The five- time series champion held the lead late in that race but was involved in a multi-car crash during a green-white-checkered finish. He wound up finishing 12th.
"Whenever it happens is going to be very special for the company," Johnson said. "I just want to win. I don't care where it is, whatever reason. There's 36 [races] a year, and I want to take home a bunch of trophies. Second is nice, but winning is everything."
Hendrick has the most car owner wins at Kansas with four -- two with Johnson and two with Gordon.
Whenever Johnson, Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Kasey Kahne wins another race, HMS will become just the second team in NASCAR's top racing circuit with 200 or more victories. Petty Enterprises holds the record with 268 wins.
Hendrick is guaranteed at least one milestone on Sunday at Kansas. The team will make its 3,000th start, becoming the first one to reach that achievement. Its first Cup start came with driver Geoff Bodine in the 1984 Daytona 500.
Johnson dominated most of the 500-mile race at Texas by leading 156 laps, but Greg Biffle passed him for the lead with 30 laps remaining and then held it for the win. Biffle captured his 17th career Sprint Cup victory but his first since October 2010 at Kansas (49 races ago). He also gave crew chief Matt Puccia his first win in the series.
Biffle has had a superb season so far. He currently holds a 19-point lead over his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Matt Kenseth, and Earnhardt Jr.
"Kansas is a great track, and I have two wins there," Biffle said. "We are coming off the win at Texas, and I'm ready to go. Kansas and Texas might be the same distance, but they are extremely different tracks. Kansas is much flatter, and the track is more uniform from one end to another."
Biffle's first victory at Kansas came in September 2007.
Brad Keselowski won last year's inaugural spring race at Kansas. While gambling on fuel late in the race, Keselowski took the lead for the first time with nine laps remaining when his then Penske Racing teammate, Kurt Busch, the pole sitter, was forced to pit and relinquished the top position. He then coasted his No. 2 Dodge as much as he could during the last nine laps to claim his second career Sprint Cup win.
Keselowski enters this race 15th in points, which is significantly better than one year ago when he sat outside the top-20.
Forty-six teams are on the preliminary entry list for Sunday's STP 400.
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, April 22. Race: STP 400. Site: Kansas Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 1 p.m.(ET). Laps: 267. Miles: 400.5. 2011 Winner: Brad Keselowski. Television: FOX. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Satellite.