Earnhardt, Kahne qualify in top 10 at Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne earned starting spots inside the top 10 during Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session at Kansas Speedway, while their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon will line up 15th and 20th, respectively.
In 12 Cup events (51 starts) at Kansas, Hendrick Motorsports has four wins, 15 top-five finishes and 25 top-10s. Gordon and Johnson both have two of those victories and rank tied for first in that category. The duo also ranks tied for first with nine top-10s at the track, while Gordon ranks first among all drivers with eight top-five finishes.
Sunday’s race will be broadcast on television (12:30 p.m. ET on FOX) and radio (12 p.m. on MRN). Check local listings.
Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
At Kansas: In nine starts at Kansas Speedway, Kahne has earned two pole positions, one top-five finish and three top-10s. Kahne has qualified in the top eight in six of his nine races there. According to loop data statistics from the past eight races at Kansas, the driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet ranks eighth among active drivers for fastest laps run (66) at the tri-oval track. Kahne most recently collected a runner-up finish at the 1.5-mile oval in October.
Most recently: Kahne posted his sixth straight top-10 qualifying performance of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season when he qualified fifth at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet was able to work through handling issues to post the fastest lap of the race (29.15 seconds around the 1.5 mile oval on Lap 125) and finish seventh. Kahne now ranks 27th in the driver standings.
Kahne says: “We got a great finish last fall at Kansas, so I’m excited to go back there. We’re at our best on the mile-and-a-half tracks. I think our team will come in with a lot of momentum from Texas. We’re learning every week, and that’s going to start showing on the racetrack.”
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
At Kansas: Gordon has two wins at Kansas Speedway, including the inaugural race at the tri-oval track in September 2001. In 12 Cup starts at the 1.5-mile Kansas track, Gordon has posted eight top-five finishes and nine top-10s. According to loop data statistics from the past eight races at Kansas, the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet is ranked second for the most laps run in the top-15 (1,884) at the track. Gordon’s driver rating of 105.4 ranks him fourth among active drivers at Kansas Speedway
Most recently: Gordon posted his second top-10 finish of this season last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet started in 34th and steadily progressed to finish fourth at the 1.5-mile oval. Gordon now ranks 17th in the driver standings.
Gordon says: “For whatever reason, we have run well here (Kansas Speedway) since the beginning. We won the first two races and, even though we experienced engine issues in the fall, we ran well in both races here last year. And I think our cars are even better this year.”
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet
At Kansas: Johnson returns to Kansas Speedway as the winner of the October 2011 race. In 11 Cup starts at the Kansas track, Johnson has two wins, four top-five finishes, nine top-10s and three pole positions. According to loop data statistics from the past eight races at Kansas, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet has the top driver rating (120.6) at the 1.5-mile track. Johnson is also the leader for number of fastest laps run at Kansas Speedway with 316 laps.
Most recently: Johnson opened last weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway from 10th position on his way to earning his fifth top-10 finish of the season. The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet went on to lead a race-high 156 laps before picking up his fifth career runner-up finish at the 1.5-mile track. Johnson now ranks eighth in the driver standings.
Johnson says: “I like the options, we can run anywhere. It has just been a strong track for me through the years. It’s a lot like Chicago, which is another real strong track for me. There are just certain tracks that just kind of click. Kansas has been one of those for me.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet
At Kansas: In 12 Cup starts at Kansas, Earnhardt has recorded one pole position, one top five-finish and five top-10s. According to loop data statistics from the past eight races at Kansas, the driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet ranks ninth in laps led 81 laps. Earnhardt most recently collected a runner-up finish at the 1.5-mile oval in June 2011.
Most recently: Earnhardt recently picked up his third straight top-10 finish of the season during last weekend’s event at Texas Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet started in 16th and overcame slight contact with a competitor midway through the race for a 10th-place finish. Earnhardt now ranks third in the driver standings.
Earnhardt says: “Kansas is great. I look forward to getting another race in on that surface they’ve got before they tear it up. I’ve enjoyed racing there. It’s a fun racetrack. Both corners are really different. Turn 1 and (Turn) 2, to me, are kind of flatter than (Turns) 3 and 4. (Turns) Three and 4 offer a lot more banking; just way different styles of driving each corner. So the track is a challenge and a fun challenge at that.”