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First-time Kansas winners have little luck repeating

9/27/2007 - NASCAR

AROUND THE GARAGE

Kansas Speedway has proved to be an unforgiving hostess to drivers seeking repeat victories.

KELLER CHASING HISTORY

If Jason Keller qualifies on time for this weekend's race, he will be on the starting grid of a Busch race for the 417th time in his career. That will tie Tommy Houston's all-time starts record.

"I was able to race against Jason as he was beginning in the series," Houston said. "He's a good racer, races everybody clean and has kept his car in good shape. He's the kind of person who's dedicated to the NASCAR Busch Series. He's got a lot of racing ahead of him, and of anybody who could break this record, I'm happy that it's Jason."

EDWARDS STILL FOCUSED

Despite his enormous points lead in the driver standings, Carl Edwards maintains focus each weekend. He is looking at the owners' standings, where Roush Fenway Racing is in a battle with Richard Childress Racing. Edwards' driver standings margin is 754 points. Roush's lead is just 39 points.

"We have six races left, and we want to gain as many points as possible and make it count," he said. "These last races are at very good tracks, and we will make it exciting for the fans."

RAGAN EYES ROOKIE TITLES

No driver has won both the Busch and Cup rookie of the year honors in the same season. David Ragan aims to change that. He has a 24-point lead over Marcos Ambrose in the Busch Series rookie race and trails Juan Pablo Montoya by 15 points in the Cup Series rookie race.

Ragan feels good about his Busch margin. It's the Cup race he's a little concerned about.

"The rookie race is pretty close right now," he said. "We are within a few good finishes of catching Montoya, so we are really going to be focusing on getting some successful finishes throughout these final eight races."

Since Jeff Gordon won the first two Cup races at the track in 2001 and 2002, no driver has repeated as victor here. In the track's six years of hosting Busch competition, there has been no repeat winner.

Busch drivers are hoping to change that in Saturday's Yellow Transportation 300 (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

Joe Nemechek managed to sweep the Busch and Cup races here in 2004, but in the Busch record books, he has only one Kansas win to his credit. Same as Jeff Green (2001), Jeff Burton (2002), David Green (2003), Kasey Kahne (2005) and Kevin Harvick (2006).

Greg Biffle knows just how cruel the track can be. He led 136 laps in 2005 but finished second to Kahne. He's been close a number of times, in fact.

"I haven't won a Busch race there yet, but I've never finished outside the top 10, either," he said. "We just need to put it all together for a win. We've come close a few times, but so far have fallen a little short of our goal."

Matt Kenseth knows how Biffle feels. Last year, he led 145 laps and finished second to Harvick. No ill feelings, though. Kenseth is eager to get back and try again.

"I like Kansas," he said. "It's definitely a multi-grooved track that is smooth and wide like Chicago. We did pretty well there last year, so hopefully we can pull off something similar this year."

Rupen Fofaria has covered NASCAR for ESPN.com since 2002. He can be reached at rupenisracin@yahoo.com.