DOVER, Del. – Jimmie Johnson was the top qualifier among his Hendrick Motorsports teammates during Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet qualified sixth, while his teammates rounded out the top 34.
In 55 Cup events (171 starts) at Dover, Hendrick Motorsports has 13 wins, 42 top-five finishes and 73 top-10s. Johnson has reached Victory Lane at the one-mile concrete oval twice from the pole position and leads drivers all-time at Dover with six wins. Jeff Gordon has contributed another four wins to Hendrick’s total.
Coverage for Dover will begin at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN this Sunday.
Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
At Dover: In his most recent appearance at the Monster Mile, Martin finished second, earning his best result thus far in the 2011 season. The driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet started 25th and raced his way into the top 10 in the May race. During the final pit stop, Martin remained on the track while the rest of the field pitted for fresh tires. Martin held on to finish second despite running on old tires in the final 35 laps. Overall, Martin has four wins, 23 top-five finishes and 31 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 24th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The highest Martin can finish is 13th in the standings.
Martin says: “We’re definitely heading in the right direction. It was a shame that we had that right-front tire go down at New Hampshire (Motor Speedway). The guys did everything right that day. Great pit calls. Great pit stops. We led a lot of laps. There’s just nothing you can do about a tire going down. Our cars are faster. We’re running in the front more. This is exactly the way we need to be racing.”
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
At Dover: Gordon has visited Victory Lane four times at Dover, most recently in June 2001. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet’s four wins tie him with Martin for second-most wins among active drivers at the one-mile oval. Gordon also has earned 14 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s during his 37 starts at the Monster Mile.
Chase report: Gordon enters Sunday’s event ranked fifth in the driver standings. Last weekend, Gordon overcame a slow start to lead 78 laps and finish fourth at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway event.
Gordon says: “We weren’t great here, but we were a lot better than the result showed. That last stop; some guys stayed out; some guys took two tires. I was in a car that took two tires and was on the inside. I picked the third lane, and on the restart, my car wasn’t very good on the restarts. That’s the one thing that were lacking.
“I feel like have really made big gains in our race cars since we were here last. We’ve learned a lot since then to improve our performance here at Dover. This is a place where we used to dominate. I’d love to get back to that. It’s just trying to find that right balance which can be tricky here on this fast one-mile racetrack.”
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet
At Dover: Johnson leads all active drivers in the win category at Dover with six trips to Victory Lane. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet has an average finish of 9.6 at the track where he also has led 1,829 laps. During his 19 previous appearances at the Monster Mile, Johnson has earned eight top-five finish and 13 top-10s, overall.
Chase report: Johnson and the No. 48 team currently are ranked 10th in the Cup standings. During last Sunday’s Cup event at New Hampshire, Johnson struggled to gain track position after the No. 48 Chevrolet made contact with several competitors on track. Johnson crossed the finish line 18th, right behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Earnhardt.
Johnson says: “New Hampshire obviously wasn’t the finish we were looking for especially with how good we were throughout the weekend. I’m really looking forward to this weekend though. Dover has always been a good place for the 48 team and I really enjoy racing there. I’m not really sure why, but it has always just kind of suited my driving style.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet
At Dover: In 23 Cup starts at Dover, Earnhardt has one win, four top-five finishes and seven top-10s. He has led 367 laps and completed 99 percent of all laps he’s attempted at the Monster Mile. Earnhardt’s Sprint Cup win at Dover happened on Sept. 23, 2001. The victory, which came in the first Cup race following Sept. 11, was the second of his sophomore season. Earnhardt displayed the American flag during his victory lap to pay tribute to the victims. In that race he started third and led 193 laps.
Chase report: Earnhardt currently holds the eighth position in Cup standings after finishing 17th last Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. During the New Hampshire event, the No. 88 Chevrolet was able to rally back from two separate flat-tire incidents to finish on the lead lap.
Earnhardt says: “This track has been good at times and bad at times for me. I like asphalt better than I like concrete. Concrete is just not as good a surface in my opinion. As high-banking and as fast as this place is, it was the only way they could really put something down that would survive. Once the concrete ages a couple of years, it’s got joints in it. It’s kind of like a wooden deck. It starts to sort of get bumps in it because of that. If you ever drove down I-77 towards Statesville (N.C.), you will remember how that patch of road used to be. And that’s about exactly how it feels. It gets them little joints in it and you just hop around the race track all the way around there and that’s the way it goes.”