Johnson earns outside pole, teammates in top 17 in Dover qualifying
DOVER, Del. – Jimmie Johnson collected a front-row starting spot during Saturday’s qualifying session at Dover International Speedway. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Madagascar Chevrolet toured the one-mile concrete oval in 22.75 seconds at roughly 158.263 mph to record the outside pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event.
Johnson’s teammates round out the top 17 with Kasey Kahne starting 13th, Jeff Gordon 14th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. 17th.
In 56 Cup events (175 starts) at Dover, Hendrick Motorsports has 13 wins, 43 top-five finishes and 74 top-10s. Johnson, who leads active drivers at Dover with six wins, needs just one more victory to rank tied for first all-time with Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Richard Petty. Gordon has contributed another four wins to Hendrick Motorsports’ total.
Sunday’s race will be broadcast on television (12:30 p.m. ET on FOX) and radio (12:30 P.M. ET on MRN) Check local listings.
Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet
At Dover: Kahne has one top-five finish, four top-10s and has led 88 laps in 16 Cup starts at Dover International Speedway. According to NASCAR loop data, he ranks eighth among active drivers for fastest laps run with 197 during the last 14 races at Dover. The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet earned his best finish of fourth at the track last October after starting ninth. Kahne has seven starts inside the top 10 at the one-mile concrete oval and lined up fourth in this race last May.
Most recently: Kahne picked up his first victory as a Hendrick Motorsports driver during the 600-mile event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on May 27. The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet led 65 of the final 68 laps with a more than four second lead over the closest competitor when he took the checkered flag. The Memorial Day weekend race marked his 300th cup start. Kahne now ranks 15th in the driver standings.
Kahne says: “We were really strong at Dover last fall, so I’m looking forward to this weekend. It’s a challenging track with a tight pit road. Qualifying well and getting a good pit stall will be important. I hope we can keep building on the momentum the (No.) 5 team and our teammates have right now.”
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
At Dover: In 38 starts at the Delaware track, Gordon has four wins, 14 top-five finishes, 21 top-10s and four pole positions. According to NASCAR loop data from the past 14 races at Dover, The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet has run 70 percent of laps in the top-15 during the last 14 events at the Monster Mile. Gordon’s driver rated of 89.2 ranks him 10th among active drivers in that timeframe.
Most recently: Gordon earned his third top-10 finish of the season during the Cup event at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27. He improved from a starting position of 23rd to lead five laps on his way to a seventh place finish. Gordon improved two spots in the driver standings and now ranks 22nd.
Gordon says: “Dover is very fast and very challenging. Our team has always excelled at tracks that have been the most challenging. But we haven’t been as successful here recently as we would have liked. We’ve been constantly looking for that combination that will get us back to our winning ways here.”
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Madagascar Chevrolet
At Dover: Johnson has earned six wins, nine top-five finishes, 14 top-10s and five pole positions in 20 starts at Dover. His last victory at the mile-long track came on Sept. 26, 2012, when he won from the pole. The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet has the top driver rating at the Monster Mile with a 118.6. According to NASCAR loop data for the last 14 races at Dover, Johnson ranks first in fastest laps (734), laps led (1,591) and laps in the top 15 ( 4,770).
Most recently: Johnson followed his All-Star race victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway with an 11th-place finish on May 27 during the Memorial Day weekend Cup race at the 1.5-mile track. The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet ran with in the top-five with his teammates for the majority of 600-mile event. Johnson maintained his fifth-place rank in the driver standings.
Johnson says: “Dover just suits my driving style. You really have to learn how to get through the corners there. If you get it to turn in the center and you get good forward grip off of the corner, you will typically turn a good lap. That’s the tough part, though, figuring out how to get your car do that. I’m looking forward to seeing what we’ve got for it, though.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet
At Dover: In 24 Cup starts at Dover International Speedway, 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 (9,507 of 9,604 total) at the Monster Mile. Earnhardt’s Sprint Cup win at Dover happened 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.
Most recently: Earnhardt earned his ninth top-10 finish of the season when he finished sixth at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet rode in the top-10 with his teammates through the last 160 laps of the 400-lap event. Earnhardt now ranks fourth in the driver standings.
Earnhardt says: “I’ve had good cars here, and I’ve had some tough runs here. This place has definitely been up and down for me for my career. It’s a unique track, and it is pretty fun. I like the banking and the speed. I really like the banking. I love the shape of the track. If it were asphalt it would probably be one of my favorite tracks. When you do run well here it can be a fun time driving the car.
“But yeah, it’s a real challenge with the concrete, the concrete dust, the track rubbers up and then with the way concrete works when we go out there we rubber the track down and when the caution comes out we pick it all back up. So the track never really rubbers in really good and it kind of changes the whole race. The track does kind of change the whole race.”