Hendrick Motorsports

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Hendrick Motorsports Bristol Preview

 

BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 2010) – This Saturday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will compete under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway. Race coverage moves to ABC and will start at 7 p.m. ET.

Here is the lowdown on Hendrick Motorsports, which owns eight wins, 41 top-five finishes, 75 top-10s and 10 pole positions in 53 races at Bristol. The organization made history at Bristol on March 25, 2007, by winning the first race with NASCAR’s new car. The victory also happened to be the 600th win for Chevrolet and the 200th NASCAR win for Hendrick Motorsports.

No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet

Last time:

In this race last August, Mark Martin lined up from the pole position for the ninth time in his career at Bristol and remained in the top five for the entire 500-lap event. He crossed the finish line second after leading a race-high 240 laps. Most recently, Martin started in the 13th position for the March 21st event at Bristol and was making a pass for the fifth position when a competitor bumped him into the outside retaining wall. The No. 5 Chevrolet sustained heavy damage and was scored with the 35th-place finish.

Track stats:

Martin’s nine poles at the “Bull Ring” are more than any other active driver and tie NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough for the most all-time. The Batesville, Ark., native has led 1,199 laps at Bristol, which is the second-most for the 51-year-old driver at any racetrack. Martin’s two wins at the short track both came in August (1993 and 1998). In 1993, he started from the pole and beat Rusty Wallace to the checkered flag by 0.14 seconds. Martin followed up that effort in August 1998 when he started fourth and led a race-high 190 laps on his way to Victory Lane.

This time:

Currently, Martin is ranked 13th in the championship standings, 35 points behind 12th-place with three races left before the field is set in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Martin will line up 13th for his 44th Cup start at the Tennessee racetrack.

Martin:

“Bristol is a tough one because you can’t count on anything, and you can’t count anything out. This team witnessed that first-hand when we were there in March. We had an awesome race car, possibly the best one we’ve had all season. We had a chance to win that race and lost it all when we were pushed into the wall by another car. And last year, we led a lot of laps and came up just one position short in the fall race there. All we can do is run the best race we can. It’s a great race and we all look forward to it. I think we’ll be really good, you just can’t count out something crazy happening at Bristol.” 

No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet

Last time:

Last August, Jeff Gordon struggled to find a rhythm on the short track and finished 23rd. In March, five-time Bristol winner, Gordon was involved in the same mid-race accident that sent his teammate Martin to the garage. Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet suffered minor damage but he was able to salvage a 14th-place finish.

Track stats:

Gordon has historical success at short tracks. In 105 Cup starts on active short tracks—specifically Bristol, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Richmond (Va.) International Raceway—Gordon has earned 14 wins, 51 top-five finishes, 72 top-10s, 17 poles and has led 6,728 laps. Gordon ranks first among active drivers in wins at racetracks less than a mile in length.

This time:

Gordon, who scored his most recent win at Bristol in August 2002 from the pole position, is looking to get back to Victory Lane and earn added bonus points to advance his points position when the Chase starts. To secure a spot in the Chase on Saturday, Gordon who is currently 387 points ahead of 13th place must increase that gap by just four points (391 points). He will start 26th in Saturday night’s event.

Gordon:

“The new Bristol with the track configuration changes, even though they’re slight, definitely have taken a little bit of the performance away from our DuPont Chevrolet. So we’ve been searching to get that back ever since. I feel like we’re consistently making gains on it when we come here. Each race we learn. As strong as the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) was the last time we were here, hopefully we can step it up even a good bit more. We’re always excited to come to Bristol. We love this track. We know what a fan-favorite it is. I think among the drivers, it’s a place you come to where you’re always looking forward to as well. It’s just a really cool place to race.”

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet

Last time:

Johnson lined up 21st and led three times for 107 laps last August at Bristol. He was contending for the win with 100 laps remaining in the event when NASCAR called a caution due to rain. Johnson suffered an issue during his ensuing pit stop and slipped to the 21st position when the field took the green flag. He worked his way back to the front to finish eighth. Most recently, Johnson scored his first win at Bristol Motor Speedway after starting fourth and leading 87 laps on March 21. This win also marked Johnson’s 50th career win.

Track stats:

Along with his win in March, Johnson has recorded four top-five finishes, nine top-10s and led 322 laps at Bristol. Johnson has completed 98.1 percent of all laps he’s attempted (8,349 laps of 9,513 total) and holds an average start of 15.9 and 15.0. Johnson is ranked second among active drivers in wins at tracks less than a mile.

This time:

This weekend at Bristol, Johnson and the No. 48 team have a chance to clinch a spot in the Chase and compete for a fifth-straight championship. To do this, Johnson, who is 294 points ahead of 13th-place, must gain 97 points on the 13th position. Johnson is the polesitter for Saturday’s event.

Johnson:

“We have a lot of things going in the right direction for us here. We all know how important track position is and pit stall selection is—we’ve got the best of both worlds now (with the pole position) going into Saturday’s race.”

No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet

Last time:

Last August, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 team worked all day to overcome a 27th starting position and cracked the top 10 with 100 laps remaining in the event. He recorded an eighth-place finish. Most recently in March, Earnhardt started 18th, kept his No. 88 Chevrolet out of trouble throughout the event and crossed the finish line seventh.

Track stats:

Earnhardt’s 11.4 average finish and 12 top-10s are personal bests for the Kannapolis, N.C., native at any tracks in the Sprint Cup Series. In the last 17 races at Bristol, Earnhardt has finished 11th or better 14 times. In his Cup career at the .533-mile oval (21 starts), Earnhardt has recorded one win, seven top-five finishes and 12 top-10s and led 743 laps. Earnhardt also has the best average finish (8.4) among drivers during the last 11 races at Bristol and is the only driver to have an average finish in the top-10 during that time period. He also has recorded eight top-10s in the last 11 races.

This time:

Earnhardt will pull double duty this weekend at Bristol. On Friday, he will drive the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event. Earnhardt got off to a good start in the Cup Series on Friday by recording the third-fastest speed during the first Cup practice session. Earnhardt will start in 27th under the lights on Saturday and look to cut the 129-point deficit he has on 12th place.

Earnhardt:

“Bristol is one of the best places to see a race. Everybody’s sitting right on top of the racetrack. There’s nothing else that really compares to Saturday night racing at Bristol. I like racing there and have enjoyed some success at the track.”

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