Rain-soaked Kentucky lone track left for Gordon to conquer

If Gordon can take the checkered flag at Kentucky Speedway today, he would become the first active driver to own a win at every track on the current NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit.

“That would be huge,” Gordon said. “No. 1 because this is a very challenging race track. No. 2 is I don’t know what the plan is for adding race tracks in the future, but in the past every time we knock one off and get close to accomplishing that goal, which I think would be a pretty awesome thing to accomplish, they add another track.”

Kentucky Speedway — which saw its first 183-mph lap turned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Friday afternoon qualifying and its first rain-shortened NASCAR event in Friday night’s Nationwide race — only joined the Sprint Cup circuit two years ago, with Kyle Busch winning the inaugural race in 2011 while Brad Keselowski reached Victory Lane last year on the way to winning the Sprint Cup championship.

Gordon finally broke through at Homestead in last year’s season finale to leave Kentucky as his lone unconquered venue.

“It’s something I would be very proud of,” he said.

The next two drivers closest to filling out their NASCAR bingo cards are Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson, with both needing a win at Kentucky to move a step closer.

Stewart only needs to check off two tracks (Darlington and Kentucky), while Johnson needs five (Chicago, Homestead, Kentucky, Michigan and Watkins Glen).

“It gets me excited,” Johnson said. “We don’t talk about it amongst Stewart, Gordon or myself, but I think we all would secretly love to be the first to win at every track we compete at.

“I want to get closer,” he added. “I’ve been very close here (sixth in 2011, third last year). I’ve been very close at Michigan. I’ve been very close at Chicago. So I hope we can get one or two of them this year, and I would love to start here.”

While Johnson and Stewart would be in the Chase if the season ended today (Johnson currently leads the standings and Stewart would be in as a wildcard), Gordon still has some work to do.

“It’s pretty familiar to us,” said Gordon, who sits in 13th place, 12 behind Martin Truex for the 10th and final spot. “I think we were further back than 10th at this point last year than we are now. Obviously last year things didn’t go so well.

“It’s certainly been frustrating,” Gordon continued. “We have high expectations put on us. We know the pressure that along with that to perform. And when we don’t, the criticism comes with that. But I also know that nobody is more capable of pulling ourselves out of a hole and getting back on track than this team. It’s Hendrick Motorsports.”

The rain postponement is not a first for NASCAR at Kentucky Speedway. The 2002 Nationwide (then Busch) race was rained out on a Saturday night and run Sunday afternoon.

Parking lots will begin admitting cars at 8 a.m. today, and gates will open at 10.

Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.