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Gordon qualifies seventh at New Hampshire

LOUDON, N.H. – Jeff Gordon qualified seventh for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the top-12, respectively. Mark Martin will line up 21st in the field. In 36 Cup events at New Hampshire, Hendrick Motorsports has scored eight wins, 33 top-five finishes and 52 top-10s.

Coverage for the second Chase event will begin at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN this Sunday.

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet

Qualified: 21st

At New Hampshire: Martin earned his most recent Cup victory, and his first career New Hampshire win, in September 2009 driving the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. In 29 Cup starts, Martin also has earned nine top-five finishes and 14 top-10s.

Chase report: The driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet did not qualify for the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup field, however, the team ranks 16th in the Sprint Cup standings after finishing ninth at Chicagoland Speedway on Monday. The highest Martin can finish is 13th in the standings.

Martin says: “I’ve felt since mid-season that we were figuring some things out. At Indy we had a great run and would’ve battled for the win if we just had a little more fuel. This team is really good. More so than we’ve shown. And we’re capable of good things. We’re putting our nose down right now and really working hard and it’s showing. We had a good run at Richmond (Va.) recently and another one at Chicago. Hopefully we can continue to build on that.”

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet

Qualified: Seventh

At New Hampshire: Gordon has won three times at New Hampshire. The driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet leads three statistical categories among drivers all-time there. He owns the most top-five finishes (14), most top-10s (18) and has led the most laps (1,226 total).

Chase report: Gordon enters Sunday’s event ranked 11th in the driver standings. Despite a strong run late in Monday’s Cup event at Chicagoland Speedway, Gordon ran out of gas on the final lap and finish 24th when the No. 24 Chevrolet ran out of gas on the final lap.   

Gordon says: “We are excited about this weekend. It is a great track for us. I have had a good day so far, so pretty happy with that and hope to continue that. Obviously, the first race did not go so well for us at Chicago. We’ve got some work to do, and this is a great place for us to come to get that done. Look forward to the challenges that we are going to face over the next nine weeks and what we are capable of doing.”

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet

Qualified: 10th

At New Hampshire: Johnson will make his 20th Cup appearance at New Hampshire in his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. In his 19 previous Cup starts at the 1.058-mile short track, Johnson has earned three wins, seven top-five finishes and 13 top-10s.

Chase report: Johnson and the No. 48 team currently are ranked eighth in the driver Cup standings. During Monday’s Cup event at Chicagoland Speedway, Johnson restarted fourth after the field returned to green for the last time, but was unable to conserve enough fuel and slowed down for a 10th-place finish on the final lap.   

Johnson says: “We had a great showing in Chicago. I’m very proud of the effort. Unfortunately we came up a lap short on fuel. We went back and looked at it and we had a bit more of a deficit on fuel on that final run than we kind of thought. I knew that I had saved fuel, but I had a bigger window to make up than we anticipated once we got home and got a closer look at things. So, to run out coming to the white (flag) and still finish 10th is amazing and shocking to me to roll all the way around the racetrack with the engine off and still finish in the top 10; and a top 10 at the start of the Chase. I’ve had years where we’ve started far worse than that.” 

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet

Qualified: 12th

At New Hampshire: The driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet has led 351 laps at New Hampshire, but has yet to earn a trip to Victory Lane there. In 24 Cup starts, Earnhardt has six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s.

Chase report: Earnhardt currently holds the fifth position in the Cup standings after finishing third on Monday at Chicagoland Speedway. During the Cup event, the No. 88 team worked their way from a 19th-place starting position to break into the top-10 with 37 laps. Earnhardt was able to conserve enough fuel to make it across the finish line third ahead of the slowing field. 

Earnhardt says: “I think we made a pretty serious impact last week and we just kind of need to keep that momentum going. I like the race track and I like coming here racing; but, you never know what you are going to get. 

“As good as we ran the last run at Chicago, if we had of had track position all day long, we might have been able to win that race. Those are the opportunities that we let get by us because of how we struggle in qualifying.”

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