Kahne qualifies third, teammates Earnhardt and Johnson in top 20 at Michigan
BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kasey Kahne posted the fastest lap time of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates during Friday afternoon’s NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying session at Michigan International Speedway. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS will line up from the third position for Sunday’s 400-mile event at the two-mile oval.
Teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson will join Kahne inside the top 20, starting from the 12th and 17th positions, respectively. Jeff Gordon will roll off from the 29th position when the field takes the green flag in the Irish Hills.
In 58 races (186 starts) at Michigan, Hendrick Motorsports has recorded six wins, 44 top-five finishes and 80 top-10s. Gordon ranks tied for first among active, full-time drivers with 18 top-five finishes, and he leads active, full-time drivers with five pole positions.
Coverage of Sunday’s race is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET on TNT and MRN. Check local listings.
Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS
At Michigan: In 18 Sprint Cup starts at Michigan International Speedway, Kahne has one win, seven top-five finishes, eight top-10s and has led 49 laps. Along with that, he has two pole positions at the two-mile oval and won from the top starting spot in June 2006. Most recently at Michigan, Kahne finished third in August 2012.
Most recently: Kahne was scored 36th at Pocono Raceway after an early-race vibration stalled a potentially strong run. Upon returning to the track, Kahne was clocking lap times faster than the leaders. He now ranks eighth in the driver standings.
Kahne (On the important role his father had on his racing career.): “My dad worked on sprint cars when I was little so I grew up learning about racing. He taught me about the cars, and I also wanted to race and ultimately race for my dad at some point. Because of him is why I race cars and why I got into it. He was the one who taught me first off about the cars, how they worked, how to work on them, and I enjoyed it. I’ve learned a lot from him over the years, and it’s been great having him around and having his support at all my races.”
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS
At Michigan: In 40 starts at the two-mile oval, Gordon has amassed two victories, 18 top-five finishes, 25 top-10s, five pole positions and 954 laps led. He most recently went to Victory Lane in the Irish Hills on June 10, 2001, after leading 143 laps
Most recently: Gordon scored a 12th-place finish last Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway after starting from the 11th position. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS currently ranks 11th in the Sprint Cup driver standings, two points behind 10th.
Gordon (On Michigan.): “The track has gone through a winter, but I don’t expect it to have ‘aged’ much since the last time we were here in August. I don’t expect it to be much different. It’s still going to be real fast.”
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS
At Michigan: In 22 Sprint Cup starts at Michigan International Speedway, Johnson has scored four top-five finishes, nine top-10 finishes, one pole position and 565 laps led. Johnson scored his fourth top-five finish at Michigan in this race last season.
Most recently: Johnson went to Victory Lane for the third time in the 2013 season last weekend at Pocono Raceway after leading 128 laps. The win now ties Johnson for the series lead in victories with Matt Kenseth and extends his lead in the driver standings to 51 points over second-place Carl Edwards.
Johnson (On Michigan.): “The Michigan track surface has had summer and winter on it, and we’ll see how much grip is just in the surface. I would assume we’ll go as fast as we did (last year) if not faster; and with the flatter track, I think the Gen-6 car will outperform the Gen-5. The question really comes down to how much grip is still in the asphalt. I would assume it’s going to be high. On fresh repaves, the grip is always at its highest. I’m not exactly sure how that will play out, but I’m happy that a summer and a winter have been on the track. It will make the racing wider for us, and that’s what we’re all hoping for. We’ve had weird things happen at Michigan, but one of these times it (a win) will happen for us; and I hope it’s this year.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard “Man of Steel” Chevrolet SS
At Michigan: In 27 Cup starts at Michigan, Earnhardt has recorded two wins, two pole positions, six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. He has completed 99.2 percent of all laps he’s attempted (5,252 laps of 5,295 total) and led 293 laps at the two-mile track. Earnhardt started from the 17th position in this event last season and led 95 laps, including the final 30, to earn his second career victory at the two-mile oval.
Most recently: Earnhardt scored his fourth top-five finish and his ninth top-10 finish of the 2013 season last weekend at Pocono Raceway. With the finish, the driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS ties teammate Jimmie Johnson for the series lead in top-10 finishes with nine. He also moved up to fourth in the championship standings and trails leader and teammate Johnson by 82 points.
Earnhardt (On his approach heading into Michigan.): “I think you approach it like any other race, but we are going in with a lot more confidence because we ran well there last year. But you’ve got to be patient. I looked through the notes from last year, and we didn’t unload perfect. We had to work to get it right. You don’t go in with confidence that you are going to go there and it will be perfect. You have the confidence to know that we will get it dialed in.”