Kahne earns outside pole at Loudon, teammates in top 10
LOUDON, N.H. – Kasey Kahne earned the outside pole position during Friday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet toured the 1.058-mile oval in 28.55 seconds at roughly 133.403 mph to earn his spot on the front row for Sunday’s event.
His Hendrick Motorsports teammates rounded out the top 10 with Jimmie Johnson starting seventh, Jeff Gordon eighth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. ninth.
In 34 Cup races (122 starts) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has eight wins, 34 top-five finishes and 53 top-10s.
Sunday’s race will be broadcast at noon ET on television (TNT) and radio (PRN). Check local listings.
Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
At New Hampshire: In 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Kasey Kahne has one top-five finish and six top-10s. He has started from the front row three times at the Magic Mile, including during the most recent event in September 2011. Kahne, who has led 207 laps at New Hampshire, finished sixth in this race one year ago. During the last seven Sprint Cup seasons at New Hampshire, Kahne has made 772 green-flag passes, ranking him fourth among competitors, according to NASCAR loop data. During the same time period, he ranks fifth for fastest laps run with 212.
Most recently: Kahne picked up his ninth top-10 finish of the season at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway last weekend. The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet started the 400-mile event from third, his eighth time starting in the top-five this season. Kahne finished seventh after surviving a late race incident that impacted the front of the field. He now ranks 16th in the driver standings.
Kahne says: “We had a lot of speed at New Hampshire last fall and led some laps before it turned into a fuel-mileage race. I think with the power we get from Hendrick engines, we can have a good weekend. We need another win, if not two more, to make the Chase. The competition for the wild card spot is really strong right now. It would be great to get it this weekend and have that momentum when we come back to Loudon in September.”
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
At New Hampshire: In 34 Cup starts at New Hampshire, Gordon has earned three wins and three pole positions. The driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet leads active drivers for top-five finishes (15), top-10s (19) and laps led (1,034) at the Magic Mile. With a score of 109.0, Gordon has the second-highest driver rating at New Hampshire among active Cup drivers for the past 14 races at the 1.058-mile track. During the same time period, Gordon leads drivers for laps run in the top 15 (3741) and ranks second for fastest laps run (367) at New Hampshire.
Most recently: Gordon opened last weekend’s event at Daytona International Speedway from fifth, his fourth time starting in the top-five this season. He was collected in a pit road incident on Lap 126, but the No. 24 team was able to repair the damage to the Chevrolet so Gordon could hold on for a 12th-place finish. He now ranks 17th in the driver standings.
Gordon says: I think Loudon is a great opportunity for us. We’ve been very competitive here recently, and I feel we can be competitive here again this weekend with hopefully a shot at winning.”
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet
At New Hampshire: In 20 Cup starts at New Hampshire, Johnson owns three victories, including a 2003 season sweep and the July race in 2010. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet also has seven top-five finishes and 13 top-10s at Loudon. He has the series’ third-best driver rating with a score of 104.6. Johnson ranks third, behind teammate Gordon, for fastest laps run at New Hampshire (326) and laps in the top 15 (3,365).
Most recently: Johnson opened last weekend’s event at Daytona International Speedway from 16th and quickly worked his way into the top 10. He was involved in an incident on Lap 126 that retired the No. 48 Chevrolet for the remainder of the 400-mile event. He now ranks eighth in the driver standings.
Johnson says: “It’s (New Hampshire) a tricky track with the lack of banking and the tight, fast corners. I was able to sweep it there one year and, since then, we’ve been OK. It’s a tough track. I think, for a good day, it’s all about good fuel mileage and good track position.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet
At New Hampshire: In 25 Cup starts at New Hampshire, Earnhardt has six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. He has an average start of 16.8 at the 1.058-mile oval and an average finish of 16.7. According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt is ranked fifth in the driver rating category at New Hampshire with a score of 96.5 during the past 14 races at the track. He ranks fourth among drivers for laps run in the top 15 at New Hampshire, according to NASCAR’s loop data statistics.
Most recently: Earnhardt finished in the top 15 last weekend at Daytona International Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet opened the race from 24th and improved to run in the top 10 with his teammates. He was collected in a multi-car incident on the final lap, but held on to cross the finish line 15th, maintaining his streak of completing all 5,187 laps during the 2012 season. He is the only driver to hold this distinction. He now ranks second in the driver standings.
Earnhardt says: “I really like New Hampshire, and it’s a lot of fun to race. There’s lots of ways to get around a corner. It is really hard to pass, but it is a fun racetrack, and I look forward to coming here every time we get the opportunity.”