Johnson, Gordon qualify inside top 10 at Indianapolis
INDIANAPOLIS – Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon nabbed spots inside the top 10 during Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while their Hendrick Motorsports teammates rounded out the top 20: Kasey Kahne will start 15th, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will roll off the grid 20th.
Gordon and Johnson have combined to win seven of the 18 Cup events that have been held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In addition to those seven victories, Hendrick Motorsports has 18 top-five finishes and 28 top-10s in 18 races (65 starts) at the 2.5-mile speedway. Gordon is the track’s all-time leader in wins (four), top-five finishes (10), top-10s (14) and laps led (476 total) at Indy.
Sunday’s 160-lap race will be broadcast on television (noon ET on ESPN) and radio (1 p.m. ET on PRN) Check local listings.
Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
At Indianapolis: In eight NASCAR Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis, Kahne has two top-five finishes and four top-10s, including a runner-up finish in 2005. He has qualified in the top-10 six times at the Brickyard. In this event last year, the driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet started from the outside pole position and led a race-high 48 laps. According to NASCAR loop data Kahne ranks fourth for laps run in the top 15 (822 laps) and eighth in the driver rating category at Indianapolis with a score of 94.3.
Most recently: Kahne captured his second victory of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season when he went to Victory Lane on July 15 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet started from the outside pole position and battled within the top five throughout the 301-lap event. Kahne took the lead on pit road during the race’s final caution period and led the remaining 66 laps on the way to his 14th career Cup win. Kahne now ranks 12th in the driver standings.
Kahne says: “Winning at the Brickyard and the Daytona 500 are on the top of my list. For me, coming up in the sprint car ranks, I raced in the Indianapolis area a lot and learned early on how significant winning at the Brickyard was. When you think about the drivers that have won at Indy throughout the years, it would mean a lot to be able to add my name to that list. We’ve been close a few times, and it’s certainly a victory I’d love to pull off.”
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
At Indianapolis: In 18 Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Gordon has earned four wins, 10 top five-finishes, 14 top-10s and three pole positions. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet led a race-high 93 laps to win the inaugural Cup race at the Brickyard in 1994. With a driver rating of 99.4, Gordon ranks fifth in that category among active drivers at Indianapolis. According to NASCAR loop data from the last seven races at the Brickyard, Gordon has spent 803 of 1,120 laps in the top 15, ranking him fifth in that category.
Most recently: Gordon opened the July 15 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway from eighth and improved to finish sixth. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet was joined in the top 10 by his teammates, the third time every competing Hendrick Motorsports driver has finished in the top 10 at New Hampshire. After his strong performance at the 1.058-mile track, Gordon now ranks 17th in the driver standings.
Gordon says: “Growing up here (Indianapolis) and going to the track numerous times as a kid, there is just something special about each trip here. But that special feeling changes quickly when I get out on the track because this place is so challenging.”
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Kobalt Tools Chevrolet
At Indianapolis: In 10 Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Johnson has earned three wins, three top five-finishes, four top-10s and one pole position. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Kobalt Tools Chevrolet has the fourth best driver rating with a score of 100 among active drivers in the last seven races at the Brickyard. According to NASCAR loop data for Indianapolis from the same timeframe, Johnson ranks second for fastest laps run (96) and laps led (130 of 1,120).
Most recently: Johnson led two laps en route to a seventh-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 15. The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet started from seventh and overcame a late race handling issue to battle back from 18th and finish seventh. Johnson now ranks fourth in the driver standings.
Johnson says: “Track position (at Indianapolis) is everything. The track position challenge starts in qualifying. Clearly, a fast racecar is important, but maintaining track position and, especially, having track position at the end of the race is everything.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet
At Indianapolis: In 12 Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has recorded two top-10 finishes and led 61 laps. In five of those races, Earnhardt lined up sixth or better for the historic event. He scored his best finish—sixth-place—at the 2.5-mile oval in 2006. According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt ranks seventh among all drivers in the laps led category during the past seven Indianapolis races and has led 48 of the 1,120 laps run during that timeframe.
Most recently: Earnhardt picked up his eighth top-five finish of the season during Cup action at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 15. Earnhardt is the only driver to have completed all 5,488 laps this season, which is a NASCAR record of lead-lap finishes to start a season. The driver of the No. 88 Chevy has 20 straight lead-lap finishes dating back to an 11th-place result last November in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He needs one more to tie Gordon, who posted 21 consecutive lead-lap finishes in 1998-99. After his fourth place finish at New Hampshire, Earnhardt ranks second in the driver standings.
Earnhardt says: “Everyone wants to win at Indianapolis. Everyone wants to go through the process they have at post-race, the celebration and the unique thing that they do. I’ve read about the history and read about how it has survived two world wars and how it was basically the proving grounds for the automobile back in the turn of the century. I would love to be able to say I’ve won a race there. It’s at the top of the list. It battles with tracks like Daytona (Fla.).”