Kahne, Johnson to start in top 10 at Michigan
BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kasey Kahne will start Sunday’s event at Michigan International Speedway from the second row after qualifying fourth in his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson will join him in the top 10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon will start 17th, 28th, respectively.
In 56 races (178 starts) at Michigan, Hendrick Motorsports has five wins, 40 top-five finishes and 75 top-10s. Gordon ranks tied for first among active drivers with 18 top-five finishes, and he leads active full-time drivers with five pole positions and 950 laps led.
Sunday’s 200-lap race will be broadcast on television (noon ET on FOX) and radio (noon ET on MRN) Check local listings.
Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
At Michigan: In 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts at Michigan International Speedway, Kahne has one win, six top-five finishes and seven top-10s. He has two pole positions at the two-mile oval, and won from the top starting spot in June 2006. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet ranks fifth for green-flag passes at Michigan with 1,063 during the last seven years according the NASCAR loop data. Kahne finished seventh in the track’s most recent event in August 2011, scoring the seventh-best driver rating of 104.2.
Most recently: Kahne opened strong at Pocono Raceway last weekend, starting in the top-10 for the 12th time this season. After starting from 10th, he maintained his footing in top 10 and ran with his teammates until a late race incident retired the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet for the remainder of the race. He was ultimately scored 29th. Kahne now ranks 16th in the driver standings, trailing 10th-place Brad Keselowski by 46 points. He is one of four drivers in contention for a Chase Wild Card spot with one win each.
Kahne says: “I’m excited to see the new surface at Michigan. It’s always been a good track for us, and it should be really fast with the repave. You could always run so many different lines there in the past. I hope that’s still true on the new pavement.”
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
At Michigan: In 38 starts at the Irish Hills track, Gordon has two wins (1998 and 2001), five poles, 18 top-five finishes and 24 top-10s. According to loop date from the past 14 races at Michigan, the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet has the seventh best driver rating with 96.4. Gordon own 154 of the fastest laps run on the newly repaved track and led 156 laps within the same timeframe.
Most recently: Gordon posted solid laps at Pocono Raceway on June 10, running 60 percent of the 200-lap race in the top 15. The driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet overcame a pit road penalty to run in the top-five with his teammates before ultimately finishing 19th. After his performance at the Tricky Triangle, Gordon now ranks 22nd in the driver standings, just nine points away from being in the top 20 in points.
Gordon says: “I am not a big fan of repaves, so the fact that I am talking positive about it - and still enjoying the racetrack (Michigan) as much as I always have - is a sign that I think they did a great job. Whatever it is about this track, it has always had a great feel to it. I am really looking forward to the race this weekend because we tested here and it went well, and because we’ve had strong performances recently.”
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet
At Michigan: In 20 starts at Michigan International Speedway, Johnson has led 542 laps en route to three top-five finishes and eight top-10s. While the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet is still seeking his first win at the two-mile long track, he owns the third-best driver rating (105.6) of all active drivers in the last 14 races at Michigan. He has the second-best average green-flag speed (174.357 mph) and leads the fastest laps run category (282) in the same timeframe.
Most recently: Johnson improved from a 24th-place starting position to finish fourth at Pocono Raceway last weekend. The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet overcame two pit road speeding penalties at the Tricky Triangle to earn his seventh top-five finish of the season. Johnson now ranks fifth in the driver standings. He sits 30 points behind current points leader Matt Kenseth.
Johnson says: “The speeds and the shapes of the tracks are different, of course. But any more, the air flow over the car is where we find the bulk of our grip. So the fact that the speeds at Pocono are very high and the same with the speeds at Michigan, there will be some things that cross over (between the two tracks). So after leaving the Pocono test and race and we head to Michigan, actually it will probably be closer than it would if we came from a short track because the speeds in the way you set the car up due to the aerodynamics would be the same.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/The Dark Knight Rises/National Guard Chevrolet
At Michigan: In 25 Cup starts at Michigan, Earnhardt has recorded one win, two pole positions, four top-five finishes and eight top-10s. His two career pole positions at Michigan are tied for first as career-bests for the driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/The Dark Knight Rises/National Guard Chevrolet. He has completed 99.1 percent of all laps he’s attempted (4,851 laps of 4,894 total) and led 173 laps. With a score of 94.2, Earnhardt ranks 10th in the driver rating category for the past 14 races at Michigan.
Most recently: Earnhardt continued his strong season with another top-10 finish last weekend at Pocono Raceway. He led 36 laps at the two-mile long track, pacing the field in his No. 88 Chevrolet. A late race caution interfered with fuel strategy, but Earnhardt held on for an eighth-place finish. He now ranks second in the driver standings, trailing leader Kenseth by 10 points.
Earnhardt says: “Well, they’re (speeds at Michigan) fine. You don’t really feel like you’re going that fast. They’re really high and they look big on the sheet and they look impressive on the stats, but the speeds really don’t feel that fast. The car is real comfortable and it’s really surprising to hear the speeds that we’re running because it doesn’t feel like we’re going that fast.”