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Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon break track record, qualify top three at New Hampshire

LOUDON, N.H. – An early qualifying draw wasn’t an issue for Kasey Kahne on Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and a late one didn’t hurt Jeff Gordon. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates broke the existing track record to lock up the second and third qualifying spots on Friday. Their teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. secured the 11th and 17th spots, respectively.

In 37 Cup races (134 starts) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has nine wins, 39 top-five finishes and 62 top-10s. Most recently, the organization posted finishes inside the top 14 in the July 2013 event with Johnson (sixth), Gordon (10th), Kahne (11th) and Earnhardt (14th).

Coverage of Sunday afternoon’s race is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN and PRN. Check local listings.

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS
Qualified: Second.
Most recently: Kahne finished 12th at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 15 and improved one spot to rank 10th in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He trails first-place driver Matt Kenseth by 31 points with nine races remaining in the championship hunt.
At New Hampshire: In 19 Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire, Kahne has one win, three top-five finishes and eight top-10s. Kahne’s lone victory at the 1.058-mile oval came in the July 2012 event after he started from the second position and led 66 laps. Overall, Kahne has led 274 circuits at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Kahne (On why he and crew chief Kenny Francis get along so well.): “The reason I think we get along so well is because we have similar personalities. Neither one of us like to talk a lot if we don’t need to. We just talk when we feel like we need to, and we’re usually on the same page. Between that and work ethic; he’s nonstop trying to figure out how to make our race cars faster, and I try to do everything I can to know about the car and also be physically and mentally prepared as I can be. So I think we see what each other does and really like it, and the communication is there, which is a big part of what we do. Being able to communicate with him, understand and be on the same page more often than not has been key for us.”

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS
Qualified: Third.
Most recently: Gordon came home with the sixth-place finish at the Sept. 15 event at Chicagoland Speedway. With the result, Gordon has recorded top-10 finishes in four consecutive races and has finished in the top 10 in seven of the last nine events. Gordon ranks seventh in the championship standings and trails leader Matt Kenseth by 24 points with nine races remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. 
At New Hampshire: In 37 starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Gordon has earned three wins and leads all drivers with 16 top-five finishes, 22 top-10s and 1,316 laps led at the 1.058-mile oval. He also has recorded 16 consecutive top-15 finishes at the Magic Mile.
Gordon (On New Hampshire.): “This is always a track that I look forward to coming to, and it’s one we’ve had success at over the years. I love this track - it’s just one where I have a really good feel of what I need to get the car through the corners fast and be able to make good passes and have good speed.”

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS
Qualified: 11th.
Most recently: Johnson started the Sept. 15 event at Chicagoland Speedway from the ninth position and overcame various issues to score the fifth-place result. Johnson now ranks third in the championship standings and trails leader Matt Kenseth by 11 points with nine races remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. 
At New Hampshire: In 23 career starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Johnson has recorded three wins, eight top-five finishes, 16 top-10s and has led 321 laps. Johnson most recently went to Victory Lane at the 1.058-mile oval on June 27, 2010, after starting from the 10th position and leading nine laps.
Johnson (On returning to New Hampshire.): “We had a great racecar there earlier this year and we’ve tested there, so I’m optimistic going back. The way the race unfolds, it’s definitely a different game when you get into the top-10. Restarts were important and the lane you were in made a difference on how you could pass.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS
Qualified: 17th.
Most recently: Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS, currently holds the 13th position in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after finishing 35th at the Sept. 15 event at Chicagoland Speedway. With nine races remaining in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Earnhardt trails leader Matt Kenseth by 53 points.
At New Hampshire: In 28 Cup starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. He has an average start of 15.9 at the 1.058-mile oval and a 16th-place average finish. Earnhardt has led 351 laps there.
Earnhardt (On New Hampshire.): “We tested New Hampshire last month because we weren’t as good as we thought we needed to be earlier this year. We picked up a few things at the test that will help us. New Hampshire is an important race in the Chase, and we’ll try to go get a good finish.”

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