Hendrick Motorsports

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Hendrick Motorsports Atlanta Preview

 

HAMPTON, Ga. (Sept. 5, 2010) – On Sunday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will celebrate the Labor Day weekend by racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Race coverage for the event will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Here are the statistics for Hendrick Motorsports, which owns 10 wins, 47 top-five finishes and 73 top-10s in 53 events at Atlanta. The organization’s wins, top-five finishes and top-10s at the track rank first all-time among all owners. Hendrick Motorsports’ last win at the 1.54-mile quad-oval happened in 2007 when Jimmie Johnson swept both Atlanta events.

No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet

Last time:

Last September in Atlanta, Mark Martin started seventh and stayed in the top 10 for the majority of the race before finishing fifth. Most recently at Atlanta, Martin made an early pit stop after his left-rear tire went flat. Martin saved the No. 5 Chevrolet and worked his way back to the top 12 by Lap 220. He was running in the top 10 with only a few laps to go when he was involved in a multi-car incident in Turn 4. Martin finished 33rd.

Track stats:

Martin is a two-time winner at the Georgia racetrack. His first victory happened in November 1991, when the NASCAR-veteran started fourth and led a race-high 190 laps. Martin made his second trip to Victory Lane at Atlanta on Nov. 13, 1994, when he beat Dale Earnhardt Sr. across the finish line by 3.44 seconds after leading a race-high 119 laps. Including his two wins, Martin has tallied 14 top-five finishes, which ties him with teammate Jeff Gordon for the most of any active driver.

This time:

On Sunday, Martin will line up 17th for his 50th Cup start at Atlanta. Martin currently is ranked 14th in the championship standing, 101 points behind 12th-place Clint Bowyer. A good finish for Martin and the No. 5 team, plus a little bad luck on the part of their competitors, will improve their chances of making the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Only two races—this weekend’s 500-mile event at Atlanta and the Sept. 11 running at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway—remain before the postseason field is set.

Martin:

“Anything can happen. Where we are now, it would be a surprise to make up that kind of ground in two races. It would come at Clint’s (Bowyer) expense for sure. But, it’s important to us to continue to work on trying to get our cars faster and get stronger and better as a team. That’s the most important thing on our agenda. If we were able to go out and win Atlanta then we might think going into Richmond that we could get back in the Chase. But realistically it seems like we’ve got some work to do before we’re going to be a contender to win races. Really, that’s more important than talking about the Chase. That’s the most important thing to our race team right now—to get back into the form we were in last year.”

No. 24 DuPont/Jeff Gordon Foundation Chevrolet

Last time:

Gordon started fourth and remained inside the top 10 for 305 laps of the 325-lap event last September at Atlanta. Gordon crossed the finish line eight after leading 30 laps during the race. Earlier this year in March, Gordon lined up fifth at Atlanta and was running in the top 10 until Lap 140 when a tire issue forced him to slow the No. 24 Chevrolet to prevent it from wrecking. Gordon recorded an 18th-place finish.

Track stats:

With 14 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s at Atlanta, which are both tied for most-all time with teammate Martin, Gordon has proved himself to be one of the best when it comes to racing on the 1.54-mile quad-oval. He also has recorded 62 wins—the most all-time—at racetracks greater than one-mile in length.  According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Gordon is ranked second in driver ratings with a score of 101.8 during the last 11 races at Atlanta. He also has the third-highest average finish (10.2) and ranks second with 2,857 laps completed in the top 15 (79.4 percent) during that time period. Gordon also is a threat late in the race, as the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet has made up 23 positions on average in the final laps of the last 11 races at Atlanta.

This time:

Gordon will showcase a new paint scheme in honor of the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation, which was designed by his daughter Ella Sophia and NASCAR-licensed artist Sam Bass. After securing a spot in the Chase with an 11th-place finish last weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Gordon is looking for a win, which would mean extra momentum and bonus points heading into the final 10 races of the season. Gordon will start 18th in Sunday’s event.

Gordon:

“Atlanta has been a great track for us over the years going all the way back to running our first race here. It is a special place for me, and this weekend especially having the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation car. Making it even more special is having Ella design it. It is something I’ve been looking forward to. Ella came with me this weekend. It is just me and her, and we are having a really fun weekend. She can’t wait to see the car. She’s been talking about it for a while. There is no doubt that this is an opportunity for us this weekend, as good as we run here, to get that first win of the season and get those bonus points before the Chase gets started.”

No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet

Last time:

Jimmie Johnson lined up third and spent most of the first 260 laps in the top 10 when an axel broke on the No. 48 Chevrolet and translated into a 36th-place finish. Earlier this year in March at Atlanta, Johnson started 16th and worked his way into the top 10 by Lap 100. A series of late caution flags stalled Johnson’s drive to the front, and he crossed the finish line 12th.

Track stats:

Johnson’s most recent win at Atlanta was during the 2007 Cup season when he swept both the March and October events at the racetrack.  In March 2007, Johnson led a race-high 135 laps after starting third. Most recently on Oct. 28, 2007, Johnson started sixth and led eight laps on his way to Victory Lane. Johnson has completed 99.3 percent of all laps he’s attempted (5,755 laps of 5,798 total) and holds an average start of 8.2 and an average finish of 10.8. According to NASCAR loop data statistics, which was collected during the last 11 races at Atlanta, Johnson is ranked first in the driver rating category with a score of 109.5 and his average finish of 9.1 is second-best. Johnson also is ranked first in laps in the top 15—he has spent 3,220 laps (89.4 percent) inside the top 15 in the last 11 races at Atlanta.

This time:

In 18 Cup starts at Atlanta, Johnson has tallied three wins, nine top-five finishes, 11 top-10s and 402 laps led. This weekend, he must leave Atlanta with a 191 point lead over 12th place to clinch his spot inside the Chase. If he is unable to do that, Johnson still can secure his spot with a 161-point advantage and a start in next weekend’s race at Richmond. Johnson currently is ranked ninth in the driver standings and will roll off the grid seventh in Sunday’s event.

Johnson:

“I hate that we’ve run into some bad racing luck the last few weeks. We’ve had good race cars, but just haven’t been able to get the finishes. The important thing is to just stay the course and continue to work as hard as we can. We’re looking forward to going to Atlanta this weekend. Atlanta has its own characteristics and reminds me more and more of a Darlington (S.C.) Raceway the way it used to be. Although Atlanta is different from a lot of the mile-and-a-half tracks we run on, it will give us an opportunity to work on that program.”

No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet

Last time:

Last September at Atlanta, Earnhardt lined up 31st and had climbed into the top 10 by the halfway point of the race. Earnhardt experienced handling conditions and, with 25 laps to go, slipped from seventh to 17th, which is where he finished the event. Most recently in March, Earnhardt started from the pole position—setting a record for NASCAR’s new car with a time of 28.761 seconds at 192.761 mph—and raced inside the top 10 for the first 100 laps before he felt a vibration in the tires. He brought the No. 88 Chevrolet down pit road under the green-flag and returned to the track in the 31st position. Earnhardt improved 16 spots before the end of the event and crossed the finish line 15th.

Track stats:

Earnhardt has tallied one win, eight top-five finishes, 10 top-10s and two pole positions in his Cup career at Atlanta. His eight top-five finishes are tied for career best for the Kannapolis, N.C., native. He also has recorded eight top-five finishes at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Richmond and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Earnhardt’s 632 laps led at Atlanta are ranked second-best at tracks more than one-mile in length for the 35-year-old driver, who has led 672 laps at Talladega. His average finish of 12th is ranked second-best only to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway where Earnhardt has an average finish of 11.5. Earnhardt also is ranked fourth with a driver rating of 98.7 according to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, which span the last 11 Atlanta races. He has recorded the fourth-most green flag passes (666), third-most laps led (2,657 laps) and has spent 2,657 laps (73.8 percent) in the top 15 during the last 11 races at the Georgia speedway.

This time:

Earnhardt will start 25th on Sunday as he looks to record his second win at the circuit’s fastest racetrack. Earnhardt finished 13th in the Aug. 21 event at Bristol, but is ranked 18th in the championship standings, 170 points back from 12thplace.

Earnhardt:

“Atlanta is really fast. It’s a place where power really shows up and you’ve got to have good aero balance. I like Atlanta because you can hunt around for different lines—it’s a driver’s track. We laid down a fast lap there last time, and I had great engine. Lance (McGrew, crew chief) and the guys, we have a good starting point for practice on Saturday.”

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