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Jeff Gordon wins Charlotte pole, teammates in top six

CONCORD, N.C. - Jeff Gordon, a five-time victor at Charlotte Motor Speedway, earned his second pole position of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season on Thursday. The driver of the No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS toured the 1.5-mile racetrack in 27.791 seconds at roughly 194.308 mph to capture the 74th pole of his career. It is his ninth pole at Charlotte, which ranks him tied for second all-time with Ryan Newman there. Gordon now has 12 pole positions at 1.5-mile speedways and moves into a tie with teammate Jimmie Johnson for third on the all-time list at these venues.

This is Hendrick Motorsports’ 16th pole at Charlotte, which ranks as third-best for the organization at Cup tracks. 

Gordon was joined inside the top six by his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Johnson (fourth), Kasey Kahne (fifth) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (sixth), who was celebrating his 39th birthday on Thursday. With all four drivers inside the top six, this marks the organization’s best start at the 1.5-mile speedway since expanding to a four-car operation in 2002. Prior to Thursday, its drivers netted starts inside the top 10 in October 2010.

In 59 events (199 starts) at Charlotte, Hendrick Motorsports has 17 wins, which ranks first all-time among teams at the 1.5-mile oval. Kahne most recently won the 600-mile event there in May 2012 and has four career victories at Charlotte. His Hendrick Motorsports teammates Johnson (six victories) and Gordon (five) rank first and second, respectively, among active drivers in wins at the 1.5-mile track. Hendrick Motorsports has 52 top-five finishes and 81 top-10s and has led 4,146 laps at Charlotte since 1984.

Coverage of Saturday night’s race is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and PRN. Check local listings.

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet SS
Qualified: Fifth.
Most recently: Kahne finished 15th in the Sprint Cup Series event at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 6. With the result, Kahne remained 13th in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings and trails leader Matt Kenseth by 83 points with six races remaining in the 2013 season.
At Charlotte: Nearly every statistical category at Charlotte ranks as a personal best for Kahne, who has competed in 19 Cup events at the 1.5-mile oval. Kahne’s four wins and 11 top-10s are personal bests as well as his eight top-five finishes. Kahne has completed 97 percent of the laps he has attempted at Charlotte and has led a personal best 968 laps at the track. His 11.9 average finish at Charlotte ranks as his second-best among active tracks.
Kahne (On the No. 5 team’s strength at Charlotte.): “Looking at the remaining races on the schedule this season, there are a couple tracks that we’ve been able to run up front at every time we go to them. Charlotte is one of them so I’m looking forward to this weekend. I think it’s a track we can definitely run well at so I’m just focused on trying to get back on track and finishing up the season strong. We’ll do what we can to finish off our year on a high note, and hopefully we can get a win or two at some of our best racetracks.”

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS
Qualified: First.
Most recently: Gordon earned the third-place finish on Oct. 6 at Kansas Speedway. With the result, Gordon improved to fourth in the championship standings and trails leader Matt Kenseth by 32 points with six races remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. 
At Charlotte: In 41 Cup starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Gordon has recorded five wins, 16 top-five finishes, 21 top-10s and has led 679 laps. Gordon’s five victories rank him second among active, full-time drivers at the 1.5-mile oval. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS most recently visited Victory Lane at Charlotte in the October2007 event after starting fourth and leading 72 laps.
Gordon (On heading into Charlotte.): “I am really looking forward to this weekend’s race. We ran well here in May, and we’ve had some great runs since the Chase started. I like how this team is performing and the effort they are putting in right now. I’m having a lot of fun.”

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS
Qualified: Fourth.
Most recently: Johnson started the Oct. 6 event at Kansas Speedway from the third position and finished it sixth. With the result, Johnson remained second in the championship standings and trails leader Matt Kenseth by three points with six races remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. 
At Charlotte: In 24 career starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Johnson has recorded six wins, 11 top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and has led 1,439 laps. Johnson’s six victories rank him tied for first all-time with Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip at Charlotte. He is also a three-time winner of the fall race at the 1.5-mile oval.
Johnson (On Charlotte.): “I’m excited to be racing at home in Charlotte this week. The track has been really good to us over the years and I certainly need another strong performance there, the way things are going in the Chase right now. From spring to fall at Charlotte, temperature-wise, usually ends up being about the same. The new cars have evolved some, so I know our setup will be different than what we ran in the spring. I feel good about it. It will be a little bit of a different combination.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS
Qualified: Sixth.
Most recently: Earnhardt advanced to eighth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings after finishing eighth at Kansas Speedway last weekend. With six races remaining in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Earnhardt trails leader Matt Kenseth by 54 points.
At Charlotte: In 27 Cup starts at Charlotte, Earnhardt has recorded one pole position, five top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. He has completed 93.9 percent of all laps he’s attempted (9,121 laps of 9,718 total) at the 1.5-mile oval. The 39-year-old driver has led a total of 324 laps there.
Earnhardt (On making his 500th start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.): “It doesn’t seem like I’ve been around that long to be honest with you. It just doesn’t. We race a lot of races, though. We run a lot more races during the season than they did in year’s past. It’s been a pleasure being a part of the Series and seeing the changes and the growth. I hope to be around and witness a lot more. It’s just been a dream to be able to succeed and make a living in this sport so I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.”

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