Fontana qualifying: Hendrick Motorsports teammates qualify inside top 19
FONTANA, Calif. – Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will roll off the grid inside the top 19 for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Auto Club Speedway.
Earnhardt led his Hendrick Motorsports teammates by qualifying 15th on Friday in his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS. Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS, will start 16th, while Jimmie Johnson will line up 18th. Jeff Gordon will open Sunday’s 200-lap event from the 19th position.
APPEARANCES: Johnson, Earnhardt and Kahne have appearances scheduled for the California race weekend Click http://www.hendrickmotorsports.com/fans/events for more information.
POINTS REPORT: Earnhardt leads the Hendrick Motorsports stable in the driver standings and ranks second after four Cup races this season. He trails leader Brad Keselowski by nine points. Johnson currently ranks third, while Kahne improved seven positions to seventh after winning last weekend at Bristol, Tenn. Gordon sits 21st heading into Fontana.
STRONG START: Earnhardt is off to the best Cup start of his career with four consecutive top-10 results and an average finish of fifth in the first four 2013 events. Prior to this season, his best start was last year when he drove the No. 88 Chevy to an average finish of 10.25 in the first four 2012 contests.
WINS ON TWO-MILE TRACKS: Gordon and Johnson are tied for the most wins on tracks two miles in length among current, full-time drivers with five victories each. Gordon won his five at Fontana (1997, 1999 and 2004) and Michigan (1998 and 2001). Johnson’s five victories all happened in Fontana, including his first career victory in 2002.
JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION: This weekend, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation jumps on board the No. 48 Chevrolet SS, which will sport the recognizable yellow number on its roof. Johnson previously ran this color number from 2002-2011. This marks the sixth time that the Jimmie Johnson Foundation has been a sponsor for Johnson at the two-mile oval, dating back to 2007. In five previous Foundation starts, Johnson has three wins, four top-five finishes and five top-10s.
ALL-TIME: Johnson leads drivers all-time at the two-mile California track in wins (five), top-five finishes (12), top-10s (14), laps led (851), average start (9.1) and average finish (5.4). Gordon ranks second with 622 laps led there and is tied for second with two pole positions among all-time drivers at the two-mile West Coast track.
KAHNE FOLLOWING A WIN: In the races immediately following his 14 previous Cup victories, Kahne has recorded three top-five finishes, nine top-10s and an average finish of 12th. Kahne, who won last weekend at Bristol, enters Sunday’s race in Fontana with one win, four top-five finishes and nine top-10s in 16 stops at the two-mile oval.
HISTORICAL MOMENT: During his 23 Cup starts at California’s two-mile oval, Gordon has recorded three wins, including the inaugural event in 1997. He also has 10 top-five finishes, 11 top-10s and two pole positions during this time.
HENDRICK AT FONTANA: Hendrick Motorsports has won four of the last nine events at Fontana. The organization has nine wins, 30 top-five finishes and 42 top-10s in 23 Cup events (90 starts) at the two-mile oval.
MORE FONTANA FIRSTS: In addition to Johnson and Gordon, crew chief Alan Gustafson also recorded two firsts at the two-mile California speedway. Gustafson, currently crew chief of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS, scored his first career Cup pole position as crew chief of the No. 5 team in February 2005 and his first career Cup win with the No. 5 team in the second California event later that year.