Hendrick Motorsports

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Hendrick Motorsports New Hampshire Preview

LOUDON, N.H. (Sept. 17, 2010) – On Sunday afternoon, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the first race of the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Tune in to ESPN at 1 p.m. ET for the race coverage.

Here is the lowdown on Hendrick Motorsports, which has eight wins, 31 top-five finishes, 49 top-10s, five pole positions and has led 2,169 laps in 31 races at New Hampshire. The organization has visited Victory Lane in the last two Cup events at the 1.058-mile oval. Mark Martin won in September 2009 and most recently, Jimmie Johnson crossed the finish line first in June.

No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet: Qualified 26th

Last time:

Earlier this year in June, Mark Martin started fourth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and finished 21st in his 775th NASCAR start. In this race last year, Martin started off the Chase in the best way possible, by winning the first event and extending his lead in the championship standings. Martin started 14th and worked his way into the top 10 by Lap 75, which is where he remained for the majority of the race. He led 68 laps on his way to Victory Lane.

Track stats:

In 27 Cup starts at New Hampshire, Martin has earned one win, nine top-five finishes and 14 top-10s. His average finish of 11.1 is tied with Pocono Raceway as his second-best average finish at any oval track on the circuit. Martin has been running at the end of every race that he’s entered at New Hampshire. His average finish of 10.4 in the last 11 races at New Hampshire is ranked first among all competitors during that time period. He also is ranked sixth in average running position (11.443) and has the sixth-best driver rating with a score of 95.5.

This time:

Martin will look to defend last year’s win at New Hampshire on Sunday as he lines up 26th for the 300-lap event.

Martin:

“We, as a team, have got to figure out how to make our GoDaddy.com Chevrolet faster. That’s what we’re focused on. Winning would be great. Contending for wins is what we’re fighting for. We made some big changes during the Richmond (Va.) race that had us headed in the right direction. It’s going to take risks like that and experimenting to get there. We all have to give 100 percent, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Chevrolet: Qualified 17th

Last time:

Jeff Gordon started 16th and worked his way up to a fourth-place finish in the June event earlier this year at New Hampshire. Gordon spent 97.7 percent (294 laps) of that race inside the top 15 on his way to collecting his eighth top-five finish of the season. In this race last year, Gordon started 10th and finished 15th. He maintained a position in the top 10 for the majority of the race before suffering through the final restarts.

Track stats:

Gordon is a three-time winner at New Hampshire, earning wins in July 1995, September 1997 and August 1998. Along with his three wins, Gordon has posted 14 top-five finishes, 17 top-10s, three pole positions and led 1,205 laps. According to NASCAR’s loop data, Gordon ranks fifth or better in eight categories—first in average running position (7.296), first in laps in the top 15 (2,961 laps), second in driver rating (107.9), second in fastest drivers early in a run (125.095 mph), second in green flag speed (124.420 mph), third in fastest laps run (264), fifth in fastest drivers late in a run (123.575 mph) and fifth in fastest on restarts (120.644 mph).

This time:

Gordon will start the No. 24 Chevrolet from the 17th position on Sunday. Gordon currently is ranked eighth, 60 points behind first place in the championship standings.

Gordon:

“It certainly is always a good thing to start the Chase off right, build some momentum. I guess maybe for us being a little bit further back (in points); I mean 60 points back is certainly not insurmountable but you are going to have to put 10 solid weeks together for sure. That all starts here at New Hampshire.”

No. 48 Lowe’s/John’s Manville Chevrolet: Qualified 25th

Last time:

Earlier this year in June, Jimmie Johnson picked up his fifth win of the Cup season when he went to Victory Lane at New Hampshire. Johnson charged his way to the front of the field by Lap 106 after starting 10th. Johnson lost the lead to Kurt Busch on the final restart, but the four-time champion recovered the top spot during the final two laps of the 300-mile event. Last September, Johnson started 16th and led 14 laps before crossing the finish line fourth in the opening race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Track stats:

According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Johnson is tied for second in the driver rating category with a score of 107.9. He is ranked second in three other categories— average running position (9.36), number of fastest laps run (284 laps) and laps spent in the top 15 (2,830 laps). His average finish of 9.5 during the last 11 races at New Hampshire is ranked third, and he also is ranked third in fastest drivers early in the run (125.037 mph). Johnson’s average finish of ninth at New Hampshire is fourth-best for the El Cajon, Calif., native at any racetrack on the Cup circuit. He has completed 98.7 percent of all laps he’s attempted (4,906 laps of 4,973 total) at the speedway, leading 297 of those laps.

This time:

Johnson, who celebrated his 35th birthday this weekend on Friday, will pilot the same chassis—Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-540—that he won in on June 27th at New Hampshire. When it comes to the Chase, Johnson has been dominant since the inception of this postseason format in 2004. During the last 60 Chase events, he has tallied 18 wins (30 percent), 33 top-five finishes, 45 top-10s and has led 3,190 laps. Johnson is ranked first among the 12 drivers in this year’s Chase in all categories: wins, top-five’s, top-10s and laps led. Johnson will roll off the grid 25th in Sunday’s Cup event at New Hampshire.

Johnson:

“We’ve had enough slow summers that I don’t feel vulnerable going into the Chase.  I know the tracks that are on the schedule, and we all know how good they are for me. They all give me a lot of hope and excitement moving forward.  I don’t think that I’m any different this year than last year.  Stats may show that this year I’m actually in better shape than I was last year. I can play into that stuff and let it change my mind a little bit emotionally. Either way I know that I’ve got great tracks coming up.  I know that we respond well to pressure, and I’m excited for it. I feel good about things. I’m also a realist and I look at that two ways—one, and I’m only 10 points out now so that gives everyone a lot of hope because the furthest out is 60. Then from there I have to go out and look at these final 10 (races) as this is the start of the season and we’re at Daytona (Fla.) again. It has started over.”

No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet: Qualified 32nd

Last time:

Earlier this year in June, Dale Earnhardt Jr. started 31st and finished eighth. This was his fifth top-10 of the season. On Sept. 20, 2009, Earnhardt started 23rd and climbed his was up to third with less than 20 laps to go when he was involved in an accident that sidelined the No. 88 Chevy. Earnhardt finished 35th, despite recording multiple top-lap speeds and spending the majority of the day inside the top 10.

Track stats:

In 22 Cup starts, Earnhardt has tallied five top-five finishes and nine top-10s. The Kannapolis, N.C., native has completed 92.8 percent of all the laps he’s attempted (5,981 laps of 6,446 total) and paced the field for 351 laps. According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt ranks fourth in the driver rating category at New Hampshire with a score of 99.8. During the last 11 races at New Hampshire, Earnhardt is ranked second in quality passes (376) and fourth among drivers for laps run in the top 15. He has spent 78.4 percent of the events (2,562 laps or 3,266 total) running inside the top 15.

This time:

Earnhardt will start 32nd in Sunday’s event. This weekend, the No. 88 team and Earnhardt will return to the Loudon racetrack in Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-589, which is the same car Earnhardt raced to an eighth-place finish in June.

Earnhardt:

“I like running at New Hampshire, and I traditionally feel like we are a top-10 team there every time we show up. New Hampshire is a flat track and can be a one-groove track. It’s tough to pass there so qualifying is at a premium. We’ve had a couple of tough weeks, but we’ve been working hard and going back to basics.”

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