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Hendrick Motorsports drivers to start in top 15 at Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon earned starting spots inside the top 10 during Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Johnson will start from the second position, Kahne from seventh, Gordon from ninth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will roll off from the 15th position.

Most recently, Johnson went to Victory Lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July 2012, recording his fourth career win in the 400-mile event and the eighth for Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson and teammate Gordon rank tied for first among NASCAR competition with four career victories there. The Hendrick Motorsports duo has combined to win eight of the 19 Cup events that have been held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In addition to those eight victories, Hendrick Motorsports has 21 top-five finishes and 31 top-10s in 19 races (65 starts) there.

Coverage of Sunday’s race is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN and PRN. Check local listings.

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS
Qualified:
Seventh.
At Indianapolis: In nine Cup starts at Indianapolis, Kahne has two top-five finishes and four top-10s, including a runner-up result in 2005. He led the most laps during the 2011 running of the 400-mile event and has qualified in the top 10 six times. In this race last year, Kahne started 15th and finished 12th.
Most Recently: Kahne finished 11th in the Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 14. As a result, Kahne improved two positions in the driver standings to 10th and now holds a, two-point edge on 11th-place with seven races until the cutoff for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Kahne (On Indianapolis.): “I lived in Indianapolis for three years and watched tons of (Indianapolis) 500s and Brickyard 400s over the years so I really want to win there. I would just love to at some point in time. I came close a few different times. I gave it away in 2005, and we’ve been close a couple other times and just haven’t got it done. But it’s a neat track. It’s a really precise, technical place that seems like you can just miss your mark by a little bit and really slow down your speed of lap, especially with those long straightaways. So it’s a neat place, and I enjoy qualifying there because you can run so hard and then the race is pretty cool, too.”

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet SS
Qualified:
Ninth.
At Indianapolis: Gordon, who grew up in nearby Pittsboro, Ind., ranks tied for second on the all-time motor sports wins list at Indianapolis with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson and Indianapolis 500 winners A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears. Gordon, a four-time Brickyard 400 winner, trails Formula One champion Michael Schumacher, who has five victories at the famed speedway.  Gordon has also recorded three pole positions, 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s in 19 starts at the Indiana track.
Most recently:  Gordon rolled off from the fifth position for the 301-mile event July 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and came home with a 10th-place finish. With his seventh top-10 result of the season, Gordon improved up to 12th in the driver standings. He trails Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne by two points for 10th-place with seven races remaining before the cutoff for the Chase. 
Gordon (On Indianapolis.): “This is just a special place. Flying in, I’m always excited and eager to look out the window and see the track. I think I was 11 (years old) the first time I flew over the track, and I thought that was the coolest thing. I’ve been fortunate to race here as many times as I have plus win here four times. I just love this event and competing here.”

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS
Qualified:
Second.
At Indianapolis:  Johnson is tied for second on the all-time motor sports wins list at Indianapolis with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon and Indianapolis 500 winners A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser. Johnson, a four-time Brickyard 400 winner, trails Formula One champion Michael Schumacher who has five victories at the famed speedway. Johnson has recorded four top-five finishes, five top-10s and has led 229 laps in 11 career Cup starts at Indianapolis.
Most recently:  Johnson lined up from the 43rd position at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and utilized a two-tire pit stop mid-race to crack the top 10. He remained there for the rest of the 301-mile event and crossed the finish line sixth. Johnson was the biggest mover of the day and improved 37 positions from the start of the race to record his league leading 13th top-10 finish of the 2013 season. With the result, Johnson extended his lead in the championship standings to 56 over second-place Clint Bowyer.
Johnson (On when he figured out how to run around Indianapolis.): “It took me quite a while to figure out the track. But I feel tracks that are unique and quirky – one-of-a-kind tracks – I seem to adapt well to them. Those are tracks like Martinsville (Va.), Dover (Del.), Darlington (S.C.), and the Brickyard. There isn’t a track out there like those. In my opinion, once you figure out how to drive those quirky tracks, you’ve got something that doesn’t change. It always takes that line and that rhythm to get it right. And, when I show up at the racetrack, I stay very focused on that particular driving style. We adjust the car to it, and it pays off. So for me, it’s just finding that line and then, once I’ve got it, I seem to own it. At the Brickyard, I found it on my own. I found it through a lot of frustrating test sessions, races, a few crashed cars, and then it finally clicked. I don’t remember the exact moment – I do at Martinsville, but I don’t at Indy. It was just one weekend we came back and the light went off in my mind and I’m like, ‘That’s how!’ And then we won. That was our first win.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS
Qualified:
15th.
At Indianapolis: In 13 Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has recorded three top-10 finishes and led 61 laps. He has started sixth or better for the historic 400-mile event on five occasions and scored his best finish—fourth-place – in this race last season.
Most recently:  Earnhardt began the 301-mile event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway from the third position and came home with a 14th-place finish, his fourth consecutive top 15 result. Earnhardt remains fifth in the championship standings, trailing Hendrick Motorsports teammate and points leader Jimmie Johnson by 118 points.
Earnhardt (On Indianapolis.):  “I like coming to Indy and like the history of the racetrack. The history there is incredible. It’s been able to survive a lot of things, and here we are racing on it today. It is just incredible. It is a challenging place. It is one groove and you kind of fight getting aero-tight behind people.  You know when you show up for practice what you of need out of your car. We will work hard this weekend and see where we end up.”

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